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Girls basketball: New addition, defense playing a big role in success for Cougars

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- After winning 14 games last season the Capital High girls basketball team has continued to build on that success with a 2-1 start.

Defense has played a big part for the Cougars.

"Defensively, we're putting five out there who we think can defend anybody," Capital Coach B.J. Calabrese said.

The Cougars so far have allowed an average of 46.6 points per game, with wins over Hurricane and St. Albans and a 49-31 loss Saturday at Logan.

"It was one of those games where we just couldn't get over the hump," Calabrese said. "It was really disappointing."

Capital trailed by just four points just before halftime.

"They hit a 3-pointer at the buzzer to go up seven but we thought we were still okay if we could just come out and score a couple of times right after halftime," Calabrese said. "But they scored the first few of the second half and we could never catch up."

Another big help this year had been former St. Joe player Dashia Foster.

"She comes off the bench for us right now and is averaging about six points but is in double figures in rebounds," Calabrese said. "She wasn't with us this summer, so she is still trying to feel confident with the girls."

The 6-footer gives the Cougars something they have sorely lacked in recent years - height.

"Right now, we have three girls around 6-foot," Calabrese said. "That's something I haven't had in the past and in the (Mountain State Athletic Conference) you need that size."

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CALABRESE IS in his sixth season as head coach at Capital, making him one of the longest tenured girls basketball coaches in the area this year.

Herbert Hoover's Greg Ullman and Winfield's Tim Toler are both in the fifth season with their programs. George Washington's Jamie LaMaster is in his ninth season and Scott James is the longest serving coach, in his 10th year running the St. Albans' program.

Buffalo, Hurricane, Poca, Nitro, Charleston Catholic, and South Charleston all have new coaches this season, while Riverside's Dusty Herscher and Rich Skeen at Sissonville are in their second seasons. Skeen also coaches the Indians' boys team.

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A LOT HAS been made nationally of Bloomington (Indiana) South High School girls basketball team beating host Arlington High of Indianapolis 107-2 last Tuesday.

Just three days later there was a rout in West Virginia that was almost as bad. Nicholas County (5-1), also the visiting team, defeated Oak Hill 72-4.

"We knew going into the game it was going to be bad," Grizzlies' Coach Tom McGirl said. "We did not press at all and we just stood behind the perimeter on defense and let them pass the ball around."

Jordan McDonald and Kaitlyn Goodman each hit buckets in the first quarter for the Red Devils to account for their scoring. The Grizzlies, ranked third in Class AA, substituted early and often, with 11 players scoring.

"I didn't want to get anywhere close to triple digits," McGirl said. "Shealyn Shafer is averaging 20 points a game and just scored 10 because she spent more time next to me on the bench than on the court."

The 0-4 Red Devils roster lists 20 players, but only one junior and five sophomores. The rest of the players on the roster are freshmen. Oak Hill has also lost to Class AA No. 1 Westside 113-13 and Beckley 67-12.

"Last year both games were very competitive," McGirl said. "They're just extremely young."

The Red Devils did challenge undefeated Valley, ranked ninth in Class A, before falling 55-39.

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JUST DOWN the road in Fayetteville last week Jessica Brown scored the 1,000th point of her career for the 5-0 Pirates.

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MORGANTOWN, Westside, and St. Joseph sit atop this week's coaches' rankings in Class AAA, AA, and A respectively. Locally, George Washington (1-1) has fallen from third in the preseason poll to eighth and South Charleston (4-1) is tied with Cabell Midland for 10th in Class AAA. Scott (3-1) is fourth in Class AA while Valley (4-0) is ninth in Class A.


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