Girls basketball: State talent on the rise
A memo to those pacing the floor with worry about the supposed demise of quality high school girls basketball in West Virginia.
Relax. It's in good hands.
While a record-low number of Kanawha Valley teams qualified for the State Tournament in 2013, the sport is flourishing outside the confines of Kanawha and Putnam counties. In fact, if the All-Tournament teams selected after Parkersburg South, Bridgeport and St. Joseph won state championships Saturday are any indicator, the sport should get stronger in the next two-to-three years.
Of the 24 players named - eight in each class - to the All-Tournament teams, eight were sophomores and four were freshmen.
"It just makes me want to work harder and get back here next year, to be in the same spot and the same game, but just come out with a win next year," Westside sophomore center Hope Lester said after the 2012 Class AA champion Renegades (25-2) were dethroned by Bridgeport (25-2) on Saturday.
Lester was remarkably composed after Westside's loss. She finished the tournament with 54 points and 31 rebounds, but was held to 5-of-16 shooting in the title game by undersized Bridgeport sophomore pivot Hannah Fetty.
Lester had made 17-of-26 shot attempts in Westside's preliminary round wins. She and Fetty - a 5-7 forward charged with the task of playing center after the Indians lost 6-foot junior center Raina Young to an injury last month - were named to the Class AA All-Tournament squad.
In Class AAA, the tenacity of Parkersburg South freshman point guard Taryn McCutcheon left one of the tournament's most lasting impressions on spectators and opposing players.
"I didn't guard her, but I had to help on her and she was tough," Logan (17-10) sophomore guard Shayna Gore said after South (20-7) beat the Wildcats 58-34 in the Class AAA title game.
"I've never seen anyone play that fast before," Gore said.
Another underclassman, Spring Valley point guard Sarah Kelly, joined McCutcheon and Gore on the All-Tournament team. A triple-double waiting to happen, Kelly had the first such stat line to involve steals in tournament history during the first round.
Each of the aforementioned Class AAA guards found their way to the All-Tournament team, as did Spring Valley sophomore forward Madison Morris, Logan freshman center Monica Mitchell and Parkersburg South sophomore guard Keya Bartlett, who broke the record for 3-pointers in a tournament with 14.
Bartlett made seven of 3s in the title game.
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CAPITAL LOST to Spring Valley (23-4) in the Class AAA quarterfinals last Wednesday, and was the only Kanawha Valley entrant into the State Tournament. It was just the second time since the tournament went to an eight-school, three-class format in 1984 that only one area school qualified. The other occurred in 1997, when George Washington fell to Fairmont Senior in the Class AAA championship game.
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THE THREE championship games produced the second-most lopsided composite margin of victory in the 37 years of the state tournament. Parkersburg South, Bridgeport and St. Joe (25-1) won their titles by a total of 82 points, an average margin of victory of 27.3 points.
The most lopsided set of title games in tournament history came in 1999. That year, Wheeling Park beat George Washington 69-35, Oak Glen won the Class AA title by beating Tolsia 67-33 and Mercer Christian beat Williamstown in Class A, 49-23, for a composite margin of victory of 96 points.
The smallest composite margin of victory came last year. Greenbrier East, Westside and St. Joe claimed championships in 2012 by a combined total of 16 points.
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MIKI GLENN averaged a point per minute while leading Bridgeport to its first state championship.
Glenn, a Class AAA All-State selection last year before the Indians dropped to Class AA, tied Westside guard Hope Davis with a tournament-high average of 31.7 minutes per game.
Glenn led all players in scoring through three games, and finished with 95 points, an average of 31.7 per game.
She finished four points shy of the Class AA tournament record for points in a tournament, owned by Doddridge County's Susan Robinson and set in 1987.
It was one of the few scoring records Glenn did not break last week. She set a standard for points in a game with 40 against Nicholas County in the semifinals. She also established records for free throws made in a game (19) in the first round against Lincoln and free throws attempted in a game (23 vs. Lincoln).
Former Summers County standout and 2008 player of the year Jolysa Brown saw her records for free throws made and attempted in a tournament bested by Glenn as well. Glenn made 51-of-58 attempts.
Brown was 31-of-47 in the 2008 state tournament, when the Bobcats beat Lincoln for the state championship.
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ST. JOSEPH'S fifth consecutive Class A state championship tied the record for most consecutive titles established by Class AA Summers County (2007-11). It also extended the streak of private school Class A championships to 10.
Williamstown, which won the title in 2003, was the last public school to win the Class A crown. In 37 years of the state tournament only eight public schools have claimed championships in the class: Fort Gay (1976), Montcalm ('80), Tyler County ('81), Van ('82), Doddridge County ('85), Athens ('86), Burch ('90) and Williamstown.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT