CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- With all the competition of the State Tournament, teams across the Mountain State travel annually to the St. Albans Girls Basketball Summer Shootout.
Forty-four teams from 39 schools, including all three reigning state champions, will participate in the 11th annual tournament to be held Tuesday and Wednesday across four locations.
"We have all three state champions from this past year coming," said Scott James, St. Albans girls basketball coach and shootout organizer. "We've got some of the strongest programs in the state. It's one of the things that makes it appealing to everybody, is the variety of teams we get from all over the state."
Included in the schedule, Class AAA Parkersburg South will play Class A Huntington St. Joseph on Tuesday in a matchup of reigning state champions.
That contest will also feature two of the state's top players in Patriots sophomore guard Taryn McCutcheon and Irish senior Mychal Johnson, a 5-foot-8 guard. McCutcheon earned Class AAA All-State first-team honors as a freshman, while Johnson, a Notre Dame commit, captained the first team squad.
It's those types of unique matchups that lure both fans to watch and coaches to attend the St. Albans tournament, James said.
"One of the things that draws a lot of people is you usually get matchups against teams you don't normally see during the regular season," he said. "I've got like East Fairmont playing Clay County, Robert C. Byrd-Sissonville, Bridgeport-Tolsia. Those are teams, all six are strong (Class) AA programs, but they don't play each other during the regular season."
The Class AA field features state champ Bridgeport, as well as runner-up Westside, which is led by 6-foot junior center Hope Lester, a Marshall commit. Lester averaged 18 points and 11 rebounds en route to her first team All-State selection.
Many teams from the Kanawha Valley will also be in attendance, including host St. Albans, Nitro, Capital, George Washington, Sissonville, Charleston Catholic, Poca, Hurricane, Winfield, South Charleston and Riverside.
Other teams attending from across the state include Class AAA schools Huntington, Parkersburg and Preston. In Class AA, North Marion, Fairmont Senior and Scott will participate as well as Class A squads Parkersburg Catholic, Pocahontas County and Gilmer County. From Ohio, Ironton will also attend.
This year, the talent's long, but it's youthful across the state, James said.