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Girls basketball: In Class AAA, no clear favorite has emerged

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The more games that are played the more the better teams are supposed to separate themselves from the pack.

That is the generally accepted view, at least.

Yet, picking out a clear girls basketball State Tournament favorite in Class AAA seems to get tougher each week rather than easier.

"This is probably the most even I've seen it in years," veteran Huntington Coach Lonnie Lucas said last week after the No. 6 Highlanders beat up on No. 8 George Washington, 69-50, at GW.

"There is no big favorite out there."

Unbeaten Greenbrier East (9-0) remains the top-ranked team in Class AAA, but the Spartans have yet to play a top 10 opponent.

Morgantown (10-3) looked like a solid top two or three team at the start of the season. Then, the Mohigans lost to University and Logan along with Mount Lebanon (Pa.).

No. 2 University (9-2) sat on top of the coaches' poll for a while before losing to John Marshall.

The Monarchs (10-2), ranked fourth this week, have losses to Class A Wheeling Central and Parkersburg South.

It looked like a young Logan team was on its way up the rankings until the Wildcats (6-3) lost at Winfield last week.

Huntington has three losses, but they have come by a total of six points. Besides a 49-48 loss to Marietta (Ohio), the Highlanders have dropped games to Logan (56-55) and Spring Valley (61-57).

The Timberwolves (8-2) lost early at Morgantown and by a point this past weekend at co-No. 6 Princeton (8-2). The Tigers are tied with Huntington for the sixth spot in this week's Associated Press Class AAA poll.

No. 9 Wheeling Park (5-4) began the season ranked second in the coaches' poll and No. 8 George Washington (6-3) was third.

Park's only win over a ranked team has been over GW. while they have lost to Morgantown twice, University once and have been handed losses by Wintersville Indian Creek and Zanesville, both from Ohio.

The Patriots have played three ranked teams and lost to each.

In other words, the Class AAA field is a mess.

"I just don't know," George Washington Coach Jamie LaMaster said. "Nobody is really looking great."

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AFTER EARLY losses at Nicholas County and Clay County it looks like a young Sissonville squad is finding its way.

The Indians (9-2) avenged that loss to Clay County with a 46-43 home victory and are currently riding a seven game winning streak.

Leading the way are freshmen Karli Pinkerton and Madison Jones.

Jones is averaging 17.5 points per game and Pinkerton 15.5.

Exactly half of Sissonville's 14-girl roster is made up of freshmen.

*  *  *

THE SCHEDULE for the Big Atlantic Classic in Beckley has been released.

George Washington and St. Albans are taking part in the girls division.

The event runs Jan. 28 through Feb. 2 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

Other teams in the girls division are Greenbrier East, Parkersburg South, Nicholas County, Preston, University, and Westside.

All eight squads play on Thursday, Jan. 31.

The Patriots will face Preston at 5:45 p.m. with the Red Dragons taking on Greenbrier East at 7:20.

The most interesting game that day may well be the final one pitting Class AA top-ranked, defending state champion Westside (10-0) against Class AAA No. 2 University at 9 p.m.

The winners will play at either 4 p.m. or 5:40 p.m. on Saturday, February 2 with the second game possibly featuring a matchup of teams currently ranked first and second if Greenbrier East and University survive Thursday's opening contests.


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