www.charlestondailymail.com Prep Sports http://www.charlestondailymail.com Daily Mail feed en-us Copyright 2014, Charleston Newspapers, Charleston, WV Newspapers GIRLS BASKETBALL: Bandak leads Charleston Catholic past Parkersburg Catholic http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141211/DM03/141219743 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141211/DM03/141219743 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 22:37:19 -0500 By Derek Taylor CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Welcome back, Catherine Bandak.

The Charleston Catholic senior, who has missed the last two girls basketball seasons with knee injuries after a breakout freshman campaign in 2012, led the Irish to a 36-30 win over rival Parkersburg Catholic on Thursday night, scoring 12 points and pulling down 10 rebounds at the Charleston Catholic Athletic Complex.

"It feels great, and it's really been awesome," Bandak said of her return. "The team's been great welcoming me back, it's great."

While Bandak led all scorers, it was Charleston Catholic's guard play that led the way to a 12-1 lead after one quarter. From there, the Crusaderettes (2-1) never got closer than 35-30 in the final minute.

"The first few games we were the team that came out a little bit flat. We changed things up defensively to turn up the tempo and get our girls into it a little bit more," Irish coach Zach Bogan said. "Then it was, 'Just don't let up. Keep pushing and keep pushing.'"

Perhaps the biggest contributor to that effort was Irish (1-2) junior guard Peyton Mullen, who had three assists and a steal in the first half en route to sharing the game-high in assists with teammate Vida Imani and the team-high for steals with Bandak.

Mullen's early 3-pointer gave the Irish a 6-1 lead and swung momentum decidedly in her team's favor.

"She guarded their best player or second-best player. Reily Sturm is a heck of a player," Bogan said. "She got after her the entire game. To give the effort she gave, one on the defensive end and then to get us going offensively, that's awesome.

"She's one who I usually have to beg her to shoot the basketball but she played awesome. I'm so proud of her," Bogan said.

Mullen acknowledged she was hesitant to take the early 3, but that she is aware she needs to become more of a force on offense.

"I don't really like shooting. I've never really had to because we've had seniors that have been much better," Mullen said. "Now that I'm an upperclassman I kind of have to."

Mullen finished with five points and four steals.

Parkersburg Catholic crawled back into the game by halftime, trailing 20-11, but the early damage had been done. Veteran Crusaderette coach Marty Vierheller said his team, which committed 27 turnovers, played right into Charleston Catholic's hands early on before making use of its size advantage in the second to get to the line and cut into the lead.

"We're not as young as we look, but we play young sometimes," Vierheller said. "We're still battling the unwinnable battle of impatience. That's a lot of it, and if you look at our possessions, especially early when we dug that hole, we're trying to make something happen a little too quickly, wanting it a little too badly.

"It's not due to lack of effort," Vierheller said. "It's due to lack of execution, and our girls are going to do nothing but get better."

Sturm was held to one point in the first half but led Parkersburg Catholic with 10, as Mullen got into foul trouble in the second half. The Crusaderettes shot just 18.9 percent (7 of 37) from the floor but made 14 or 18 free throws to close the gap late in the game.

As Parkersburg Catholic got its gameplan in order, the Irish struggled to close out the win. Charleston Catholic committed nine turnovers in the fourth quarter and made just 3 of 8 free throws down the stretch.

"I think the biggest issue was that we couldn't guard without fouling," Bogun said. "They were shooting free throws every time down. If they were going the make their free throws, we've got to keep them off the foul line, and obviously turning the ball over is not ... It's like we were still playing like it was the first quarter."

Parkersburg Catholic senior Alexa Schaffer led all players with 14 rebounds.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.

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PREP BASKETBALL: Linville, Shamblin lead Nitro girls over Lincoln County http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141211/DM03/141219745 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141211/DM03/141219745 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 22:03:39 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Nitro's girls basketball team improved to 3-0 with an easy 79-50 win over visiting Lincoln County (0-2) on Thursday evening.

The Wildcats led 29-7 after one quarter and 51-15 at the half.

Bethany Linville poured in 29 points for the Wildcats, while Savannah Shamblin added 27 and Torri Porterfield 15.

For Lincoln County, Lindsey Prichard led the way with 23 points.

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PREP SWIMMING: Peyatte applies shot-put skills in another sport http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141211/DM03/141219750 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141211/DM03/141219750 Thu, 11 Dec 2014 21:31:05 -0500

By NICK BROCKMAN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The similarities between swimming and shot put list few, but George Washington senior Nick Peyatte unites the pair of sports in form, dedication and success.

Peyatte excels in vastly different sports, with regional titles in the shot and discus and as a member of three consecutive Patriots swimming state championships. As Peyatte strives for success in each sport, his form and dedication tie the two together.

"Both are extremely demanding on form," Peyatte said. "There are some people who throw, they're just strong and fast guys. They can just heave it out there, but when you have someone who is strong and fast and has the form, there's no one around that can beat them.

"(It's) the same thing in swimming. You can have somebody who's got great arm speed and all that, but if they don't know where to put their arms, they don't know what kind of kick to use or how much to breathe or how to flip-turn, they can't really do much."

Whether it's swimming or throwing, Peyatte toils meticulously to perfect his craft.

"He's extremely driven to be successful in both areas," Patriots swim coach Kaycee McCormick said. "I think that's hard to find in kids his age, being so motivated and willing to work so hard for something that you want.

"I know that Nick is very, very dedicated to practicing and getting better at swimming and throwing. I'm not sure how his track practice goes, but I know he swims every night. He's one of our top swimmers on GW and across the state. They are very different, and I know he's equally dedicated to both things."

In the pool, Peyatte swam as part of GW's state champion 200-yard medley relay each of the past two seasons. His best individual finish came last season, when he placed second in the 100 breaststroke, his premier event. Thus far this season, Peyatte has posted the fourth-best 100 breast and ninth-fastest 50 freestyle time in the state, according to SwimWV.com

At the throwing pit, Peyatte works to match his swimming accomplishments. As a junior, Peyatte won the Class AAA Region III title in shot (51 feet, 1 inch) and discus (132 feet, 5 inches). Peyatte advanced to place third in shot at the state meet, though his regional toss proved to be the longest among AAA athletes for the season.

Peyatte admitted his combination as a dual-sport athlete is unusual, but it was a natural path that led him to each endeavor.

"Since I was probably about six years old, I swam in the summer, so I had always been doing that, and when I was in seventh grade, I started throwing shot and disc," he said. "I ended up being pretty good at it, so I decided to stick with it, and I guess I was better than I thought I would be."

Jim O'Dell, Peyatte's club coach with the Charleston Family YMCA Barracuda swim team, said Peyatte possesses an important skill, too, in finding form and balance.

"The more efficient you are within the water, the better the swimmer you're going to be," O'Dell said. "I think it would be the same in the shot put. Form is very much important to be able to work the body, to get the best leverage or the best velocity of the ball by the movement of the body, and the same for athleticism in the water. If you have good balance in the water, your technique is very good, your athleticism going in and out of the wall, you're going to be the better for it."

Many swimmers with the Barracudas also participate in other sports, O'Dell said, citing two daughters who play tennis in addition to swimming.

"We really have a lot of kids in the program that are multi-sport," he said. "When Nick came up, we really emphasized, in our swim program, a lot of high-intensity-type practices versus high volume."

The workouts match Peyatte perfect, O'Dell said.

"We have a great dry-land program that consists of weights, crossfit-type workouts, cardio, so it really fit his strategy of being a shot-putter and a swimmer," he said. "Swimming really enhanced his athleticism, muscle development and coordination. Swimming is a very balanced sport, so I think it's a good fit for him."

A typical male multi-sport high school athlete might play some combination of football, basketball or baseball, sports that draw crowds, attention and recognition. Olympic sports like swimming and track and field might lack the same appreciation, but that's OK, Peyatte said.

"A lot of times I don't really think about that," he said. "I want to do it for myself. I want to be able to say years down the road that I could do these things."

Excelling in two sports not often mentioned together, it's fair to say not many others also can say they do those things, or at least as well as Peyatte.

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PREP BASKETBALL ROUNDUP: Capital transfer helps Hoover boys win opener; Clay County girls victorious http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141210/DM03/141219856 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141210/DM03/141219856 Wed, 10 Dec 2014 22:26:05 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

Brad Grose had a huge outing in his first game in a Herbert Hoover uniform in leading the Huskies to a 72-63 victory over Nicholas County in the season opener for both schools.

Grose, a Capital transfer, tallied game high's in both scoring with 23 points and also rebounds (13) for Hoover (1-0). Also for the Huskies, Mathew Justice added 20 points.

In falling to 0-1, Nicholas County was led by Jacob Gross with 16 points and Nick Nutter contributed 13 points.

In girls action:

Clay County 70, Braxton County 28 - Katelyn Horrocks led all scorers with 13 points including three 3-pointers as the Panthers won at home. Four Clay County players scored in double figures.

McKinzee Barker and Payton Lucas both netted 12 points and Summer Alley added 10 for the Panthers (2-0). Clay County's defense held Braxton County (0-3) to just 28 points on 12 field goals. Tara Hunter led the Eagles with eight points in the loss.

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Bellomy lifts Winfield to win over Nitro http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141209/DM03/141209152 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141209/DM03/141209152 Tue, 9 Dec 2014 22:49:58 -0500 By Derek Taylor CHARLESTON, W.Va. - What began as a mutual debut for two new coaches turned into a potential preview of the Kanawha Valley's top individual boys basketball players Tuesday, as Winfield senior John "Bear" Bellomy scored 34 points and led all players with 15 rebounds as the Generals fought off a pesky Nitro club 75-63 at Nitro High School.

Bellomy, who had 23 points at halftime and did not sink a shot from the floor in the second half, was pushed in the scoring column by Nitro guard Trevon Taylor. The Wildcat junior finished with 31 points after scoring 11 in the first quarter to stake Nitro to a 16-15 lead.

"The second half, they were really jumping our screens so I couldn't get a shot off," Bellomy said. "That's what opened up the lanes for a drive. We were reading the defense."

Bellomy made the most of those open lanes even though he had trouble finishing as the game wore on. He drew contact frequently enough to shoot 21 free throws, and he sank 15 of them.

While Bellomy found new ways to get on the scoreboard as the game evolved, Taylor had to change his early shooting streak to lend support to the Wildcats' defensive challenge of slowing a Winfield front line that was considerably larger. When he did, Winfield went on an 11-0 run to take control of the game in the second quarter.

"He stepped up more on defense and got more guys involved on the offensive end," first-year Nitro coach Garrett Burdette said. "That was the best I've seen Trevon play since I've been watching game film and coming to watch Nitro play before I was coach here.

"He stepped up. He was our best player tonight."

Winfield looked ready to turn the game into a blowout at several junctures in the third quarter. Turnovers - a total of 28 of them - helped keep Nitro from ever falling completely out of the ballgame.

"That's the difference in a game between a 10-point game and a 30-point game," Winfield first-year coach Bryan England said. "We knew that was one of the things that we were going to have to work on, is being able to handle the pressure.

"I told them (there were) three keys to win the game: win the battle on the boards, get to the free-throw line and don't turn the ball over," England said. "We did two of the three."

Winfield dominated the glass, in fact, grabbing 46 rebounds to Nitro's 27. In fact, Brandon Preece led the Wildcats with six rebounds, and played sparingly after the first quarter.

Meanwhile, Winfield sophomore Tate Hancock finished with a double-double, and hauled down 11 rebounds to go with his 14 points.

"We just couldn't catch our break," Burdette said. "We'd get it down to eight then they'd come down and hit a big shot. We just couldn't break that barrier of eight, really."

Winfield got all 75 of its points from its starting lineup, with Alex Osburn finishing with 20 points in support of Bellomy. Reserve Neil Salada came off the bench for Nitro in the second half and finished with 10 points and a team-high four assists.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.

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Prep basketball: Massey's 28 leads Sherman over Raiders http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141209/DM03/141209155 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141209/DM03/141209155 Tue, 9 Dec 2014 22:12:22 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Senior Sarah Massey netted a career-high 28 points to lead Sherman to a season opening 75-27 home win over Liberty Raleigh (0-3) in girls high school basketball action Tuesday.

Sophomore Kendra Pannell also tallied a career-high 21 points for the Tide, which led 39-12 at the half. Sherman senior point guard Jordan Lewis added nine points and 14 assists.

For Liberty, Stacy Williams scored 16 points.

Nitro 63, Point Pleasant 18 - Savannah Shamblin scored 25 points to lead the Wildcats to the road win. Also for Nitro, Bethany Linville hit three 3-pointers on her way to scoring 13 points, while Kayla Humphrey added 11.

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Poca knocks off visiting Scott http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141208/DM03/141209225 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141208/DM03/141209225 Mon, 8 Dec 2014 22:33:42 -0500 By Chris Wade POCA, W.Va. - Three years ago, Kenny Sayre stepped in to take over a Poca girls basketball program that had folded their team six games into the previous season of 2011-2012.

Sayre has turned the Dots into a competitive program the past few seasons and on Monday night, Poca picked up a big signature, knocking off perennial power Scott 45-40 in their home opener.

It was the first time Sayre and the Dots (2-1) had knocked off the Skyhawks (0-1) in three years and only for the second time in over six years.

"It was a big win, and I'm proud of that win," Sayre said. "I had never beat Scott and Poca beat them maybe one time in the like the last six years. I think they upset them once. They have had such a dynasty."

It was a close game throughout, with neither team leading by more than six points. The Dots clung to a 34-32 lead in the fourth quarter and consistently made free throws down the stretch to pull out the win.

Nine of the Dots' 11 fourth quarter points came from the foul line as Poca only missed two of its 11 attempts. Senior McKenzie Ball was 5 of 6 and freshman Aubrey Chandler was a perfect 4 of 4.

"I was so nervous but I was really excited when I made them," Ball said. "When they started fouling, I thought we might have it. It was really good and boost my confidence to make them."

Leading 40-39, Ball sank two free throws with 32.5 seconds to play before Andrea Rankin hit a foul shot for Scott with 23.9 remaining to make the score 42-40 in favor of Poca.

Ball, a senior shooting guard, was fouled, and once again made both to give the Dots a small four-point cushion with 21.7 seconds left. After a missed shot inside, Ball hit one final free throw inside of five seconds to provide the final margin.

"Those free throws were big," Sayre said. "McKenzie is pretty tough. She is my best free throw shooter. I told her to not give up the ball and just keep it. Aubrey made a couple of them too."

Sayre is happy with where Poca has come, especially with under the circumstances that he took over a program in disarray.

"Any time you beat a team like Scott, that's a big win for us," Sayre said. "We have been turning things around and will get better as the year goes on. We have a junior varsity team now and 14 girls out. I was really tickled with the numbers.

"It's not so much me. It started two years ago with Madi McGrew and Paula Ord. They were the only seniors. They were the ones who kept the program going. They went down the halls and got girls to play. This year, the girls have done the same thing."

Sophomore Casey Skeens had a solid all around game for Poca, scoring 13 points, dishing out five assists, collecting six steals, and grabbing four rebounds. Ball added 10 points for the Dots, and Chandler contributed eight points and seven boards.

For Scott, it was their season opener for not just the team, but also first year coach Brandon Burns, who takes over the Skyhawk program from longtime coach Jon Porter. Scott loses a lot of players off of last year's state tournament team.

Landyn McKinney had a big game for Scott, leading the team in points with 15 and rebounds (17), including 13 in the first half. Rankin added 10 points and 10 boards. As a team, the Skyhawks outrebounded Poca 40-27.

"We have three players back from last year and everyone else is brand new," Burns said. "We are a work in progress but will get better. I think this is the first game since 1981 or 1982 that John Porter hasn't coached at Scott High School. This will be a learning experience for all of us."

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Bandak's return key for Charleston Catholic http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141207/DM03/141209319 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141207/DM03/141209319 Sun, 7 Dec 2014 22:09:05 -0500

By NICK BROCKMAN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - A new asset brings size and should allow the Charleston Catholic girls basketball team the versatility to package its best lineup this season.

Catherine Bandak, a 6-foot-1 senior center, returns after missing back-to-back seasons with knee injuries, and with her presence inside, Catholic figures to find its players' true positions after playing last year without a natural post player.

"It's a lot of the same style as last year, but just some different parts, which they're getting used to," second-year Irish coach Zack Bogan said.

One year after reaching the Class A State Tournament, the Irish (0-2) have opened the season with consecutive losses to Hurricane and Bridgeport, but with Bandak's height and skill set, Catholic has a newfound option inside this year.

"She gives us an interior presence and her effort is always through the roof," Bogan said of Bandak. "She gives us another scoring option, and she's still shaking off the rust from being out for a couple years. Once she's back in the swing of things and settled back in playing, she's going to be tough on teams."

With Bandak inside, the Irish will look to utilize 5-11 sophomore Vida Imani at the wing after handling a lot of interior responsibilities last season.

"She's more comfortable out on the perimeter," Bogan said of Imani. "Last year, we played her out of position a lot just because that's what the team needed, and she was able to adapt and do a really good job for us. Now, we're able to do a little bit more with her, put her out on the perimeter, get the ball in her hands some more and let her create plays, which is what she excels at anyway."

Meanwhile, guards Caroline Dundervill, Peyton Mullen and Maddie Blaydes provide reliability in speed and defense.

"I would put them up against almost any set of guards in the state in terms of being able to get up and down the floor and defend," Bogan said. "I don't know that you'll find a better group of girls. Those girls can fly. They get up and down the floor, they can attack the basket. Defensively, they can guard anybody and do a good job."

Dundervill, a junior, will handle the primary point guard duties.

"We don't really take her off the ball much," Bogan said. "She has a pretty good command of our offense. She's got the keys to the car and she's driving for us."

Meanwhile, Blaydes represents one of the team's top shooters and passers, with Mullen a solid defender, who can also slash to the basket offensively.

Juniors Raegan Palmer and Sophie Bumgarner are expected to be among the team's top reserves.

This year, the roles and responsibilities have changed a bit, but one aspect remains the same.

"As a coach, I harp on defense all the time," Bogan said. "It's definitely the focus of our team, and it's our strength as well. It's a point of pride for our girls to come out and defend people and to force turnovers, to get out and make it really difficult for teams to run their offense against us."

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Hurricane, Winfield victorious http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141204/DM03/141209503 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141204/DM03/141209503 Thu, 4 Dec 2014 22:28:03 -0500

FROM STAFF REPORTS

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Abby Watson had 22 points and Mary Rogoszewski added 14 to lead Hurricane to a 56-46 victory over visiting Charleston Catholic in girls basketball mutual season opener on Thursday.

Catherine Bandak and Vida Imani had 18 and 14 points respectively for the Irish, who trailed by 20 at halftime.

Winfield 73, Point Pleasant 23 - Haylea Roberson had 35 points, which included five 3-pointers, to lead the Generals (1-0) at Point Pleasant (0-1).

Megan Cavender and Cheyenne Sawyer each had 11 for Winfield. Marlee Bruner's 12 points led the hosts.

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Hurricane seeks third consecutive state tourney berth http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141203/DM03/141209641 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141203/DM03/141209641 Wed, 3 Dec 2014 22:49:46 -0500 By Rich Stevens CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Hurricane High School boys basketball program is on the rise, but with the loss of six key players to graduation, the Redskins could be in rebuilding mode in coach Lance Sutherland's fifth season.

"This will be one of those years where we'll grow as the season progresses," said Sutherland, whose team was 8-15 in his first season (2010-11) before reeling off four consecutive winning campaigns and has a career record of 62-38.

Key losses include point guard Jake Lemmerman, forward Garrett DeFries, Alex Estep, Tanner McCallister and - most importantly - 1,000-point scorer Henry Sorsaia. They were key to Hurricane's run to the Class AAA state title game last season, The Redskins, the tournament's No. 7 seed, upset No. 2 South Charleston in the quarterfinals and top-seeded Washington in the semis before falling to Huntington 55-54 in the championship. For the season, Sorsaia averaged 18.3 points per game while DeFries averaged 10.7. Sorsaia is at NCAA Division III Shenandoah, averaging 18.7 minutes and 5.3 points per game.

That brings the Redskins to two returning players who also played integral parts to their run at the Charleston Civic Center - guard Trey Dawson and forward J.T. Rogoszewski - both of whom were also key figures in Hurricane's Class AAA state baseball championship last spring.

Dawson already has committed to play college baseball at Louisiana State University and Rogoszewski will play baseball at the University of North Carolina. Dawson is the team's top returning scorer who averaged 13.2 points last season. Rogoszewski progressed steadily during last season, earned a spot on the All-Tournament team and finished the season at 10.8 points per game.

Those seniors will be joined by three other 12th-graders in Hurricane's probable starting lineup. Noah Fenerty, Sutherland's "first true big man" at 6-foot-5, will be joined by a pair of football players - quarterback Dylan Tinsley and wide receiver Brandon Ford.

Sutherland pointed out that Dawson and Rogoszewski won't be pressured to handle all of the scoring.

"They all can shoot pretty well," Sutherland said. "That's the thing. The Fenerty kid from 18 (feet) and in he has a nice shot. Brandon can slash and score. This is just one of those group of kids that can do it."

Sutherland typically doesn't employ more than six or seven players in his rotation, but hopes to get that number up this season.

"My top five, I'm good," Sutherland said. "I just have to make our bench. If you noticed the past three or four years I only go five, six, seven deep. My goal is to play 8, 9, 10 kids this year."

His depth starts with Jake McClellan, a 6-3 senior who is "trying to cram four years of basketball into one year," after not playing the past three seasons.

He'll also get help from 6-1 sophomore Jacob Lawrence, the younger brother of former Hurricane baseball standout Drew Lawrence. Junior Sean Stallo, sophomore Braxton Dobert and freshman Nick Muto, who is 6-3, could also contribute when all is said and done.

And while the names have changed, the philosophy won't.

"My whole thing is KISS mode ... keep it simple stupid," he said. "My goal is to never have to set up an offense, but if we do, we have that taken care of. You have to score in transition and keep the other team from scoring in transition."

He said the team's first six games will be a good measuring stick. Hurricane opens the season at home on Dec. 13 against Winfield, before consecutive road games against Capital (Dec. 16), Poca (Dec. 23) and in the South Charleston holiday tournament at the South Charleston Community Center Dec. 26-27.

"These kids have been playing together since middle school," Sutherland said. "They know how to play. They still have a bitter taste in their mouths from last season. They'd love to see it through."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: St. Albans must replace Wilson http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141203/DM03/141209642 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141203/DM03/141209642 Wed, 3 Dec 2014 22:48:32 -0500 By Derek Taylor CHARLESTON, W.Va. - It could be easier to determine the identity of the St. Albans girls basketball team in 2014-15 than it was a year ago.

That could be a good thing or it could be a bad thing, SA veteran coach Scott James said as the Red Dragons prepare to open the regular season with a home game against Cabell Midland on Dec. 12.

Point guard Torii Wilson, who was named to the All-Kanawha Valley Team in 2014 as a sophomore, moved to Parkersburg in the offseason and will suit up for the Big Reds this winter. That could clear the way for 5-foot-10 senior power forward Breanna Propst to regain her previous status as the team's on-court leader that became somewhat diluted as Wilson rose to prominence last season.

"Breanna's doing a tremendous job in the preseason," James said. "She's worked very hard, and has increased her game in going to the basket better and doing some things differently than she has in the past. It really makes her the focal point."

At the same time, it could make the Dragons easier to defend. James said.

"Basically (Wilson's move) means that we went from having two point guards to one," James said.

An intriguing statement in that returning senior Lexie Cooper, the Daily Mail's Kanawha Valley Defensive Player of the Year in 2014, is a shooting guard.

Freshman Jaden McDaniels (5-4) will take over at the point for SA. James said she is more athletic than Wilson, but lacks some of the former SA player's intangibles at this point.

"She lacks the knowledge and maturity that Torii had, but she's coming along," James said. "She's really grown in the three weeks we've been practicing, and we think she's going to be a good one."

St. Albans came within a win of reaching the Class AAA state tournament in 2014, an event that would have ended a drought that stretches to 1993. However, after SA beat Midland twice during the regular season the Knights pulled off an upset in a Region 4 co-final at St. Albans, 52-42.

The Red Dragons, who are ranked 10th in the Associated Press Class AAA Preseason Poll, finished 19-6 a year ago. Improving on that mark will rely on Propst's emergence and a staple of James' teams: defense.

Cooper (5-5) will be called upon to increase her offensive output, but James does not want to sacrifice her defensive abilities in that pursuit.

"We're expecting even better things out of her defense, but she's going to have to step up and give us more on offense," James said. "Thus far, she's done a good job for us taking the ball to the basket better, shooting better, and just all around."

Junior Cameron Davis (5-8) returns to her starting spot at center, and versatile sophomore Allie Johnson (5-9) will be SA's fifth starter after making an impact coming off the bench last year.

"She can run the point if we need her to," James said. "She can play the two, three or four and she handles the ball well."

The Dragons look to be nine deep, with sophomore Haleigh Legg expected to get significant time at center and forward. Juniors Katelyn Fields (5-5), Kasey Burks (5-5) and Zoei Kirk (5-4) will also see significant playing time after lettering last season.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter at @ItsreallyDT.

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PREP BASKETBALL: Riverside girls face rebuilding season under new coach http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141202/DM03/141209792 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141202/DM03/141209792 Tue, 2 Dec 2014 19:25:46 -0500 By Chris Wade CHARLESTON, W.Va. - After coaching at the middle school level, Sam Terry gets his first opportunity to lead a high school team after taking over the Riverside girls basketball program.

Terry has coached and run an AAU program for several years as well and led the Cedar Grove girls team the past three years.

The eastern Kanawha Valley native will coach in his first high school game when Riverside opens its season at home on Dec. 9th against Oak Hill.

Terry is excited for his first high school coaching gig with the Warriors.

"It's an opportunity I wanted and I'm excited about with the chance to coach there," Terry said. "I live in the community and know the girls and seen them grow up. The program has been down for a while and I'm looking to improve it."

Terry hopes his familiarity with the area and players gives him a leg up in starting his vision for the program.

"I think it helps a lot and gives me a little bit of a head start," Terry said. "I know a lot of the parents. I coached the girls in middle school and some of their sons played in my AAU program, and have seen us be competitive."

Terry realizes it's going to a challenge to turn Riverside into a winning program, but feels it can be done.

"The challenge is getting the girls out to play," Terry said. "In years past with the seasons they have had, the girls lose interest. They look at other sports. I just want them to give it a chance and see what we are doing new."

Terry must start from scratch as Riverside lost all five of its starters from last season. Four of them graduated and their best player, Brittany Wood, an all-state selection, decided not to play her senior year.

That leaves a lot of inexperience returning for the Warriors, leading to Terry adjust his preferred style of play until the younger girls get use to his system.

"Right now, the style I like and what we can do may be a little different, especially at first," Terry said. "I like a little uptempo with quick scores off the break. Right now we are starting from scratch and are looking heavily on the defensive side and being aggressive.

"We are going to be a young team. We have five freshmen and five sophomores. Three of those freshmen will see significant varsity time. There will be some growing pains but as the younger girls get experience, we will be a better team and competitive in mid season."

Senior Kenzie Smith, sophomore Ashley Hancock, and junior McKenzie Hudnall give Riverside the most experience coming back, having all played varsity minutes, giving Terry a foundation to build on.

"Kenzie hasn't played for two years but decided to come back, and I'm thankful for that," Terry said. "She has some experience, and does a lot. She received a scholarship to play volleyball in college, so she is a very good athlete and hard worker.

"Ashley played a lot of varsity and we are looking at her for one of the guard spots. McKenzie is nursing a injury but will be back soon and also played varsity last year. She has a lot of experience. We will lean on them for leadership."

The rest of the roster include the six freshman, including Carly Price, who Terry is expecting big things from to go along with Chelsie Adkins, Casey Maynor, and Brooke Balser, as well as sophomore Jerri Anne Jefferies.

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PREP WRESTLING: Independence's youth getting tested http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141202/DM03/141209800 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141202/DM03/141209800 Tue, 2 Dec 2014 18:00:50 -0500 By Tom Bragg CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Independence cruised to the Class AA/A state wrestling team championship last season, topping second-place Oak Glen by 63 points in the standings. This season, the Patriots return the bulk of the wrestlers that placed in Huntington to give the program its second state title.

Two sophomores - Jacob Hart and Noah Adams - lead the way for Independence after winning individual state titles as freshmen. Hart's title came at 126 pounds, while Adams won his at 152.

Independence, which won its other state title in 1996, has 38 wrestlers in practice. Of those, 18 are freshmen. Coach Cliff Warden said because of that the guys that have been around before are moving up in weight to help make room for the lighter newcomers. Hart, for example, will start the season at 152 while Adams will be at 170 or 182.

That, however, does not mean the Patriots' young wrestlers are having an easy go of it in the wrestling room.

"The younger kids came out of the room the first two weeks bleeding, crying and mad," Warden said. "I get across to them some of their toughest battles are going to be in our practice room with the older kids. The older kids beat up on them and it's sort of about survival."

Some of those "older kids" include Independence's other state place winners from last season - seniors Dustin Justice (2nd, 160), Cody Clifton (2nd, 145), Teddy Stover (4th, 113) and juniors Will Cox (5th, 120) and Alex Daniels (2nd, 170). Of the large group of ninth graders, Warden said several have been able to keep up with the tournament-tested upperclassmen so far in practice.

"Three or four of those freshmen have stepped right in and work as hard or harder than the other kids do," he said. "If you can get those younger kids to close the gap on a Jacob Hart or Noah Adams. If you get that good of a kid in the room, younger ones will come fast."

* * *

IN CONTRAST with Class AAA where there are 11 returning individual state titlists, Class AA/A brings back just six winners from last season.

Sophomores Hart and Adams from Independence are the youngest of that group. Greenbrier West's Marqise Frazier (170) and Fairmont Senior's Brent Barber (285) return to defend their titles as seniors, while Roane County's Cam Moore (113) and East Fairmont's Dalton Michael (138) are juniors.

* * *

KANAWHA VALLEY teams will look to rebound from a poor showing last season in the Class AA/A team standings. Herbert Hoover's 13th-place finish was the highest among the four Kanawha and Putnam County schools in the field. Sissonville finished 32nd, Buffalo tied for 33rd and Poca tied for 43rd.

Only three KV wrestlers placed individually in AA/A last season. Two of those - Hoover's Zane Weese (2nd, 220) and Sissonville's Ryan Keckley (6th, 113) - have since graduated. Herbert Hoover sophomore Chase Stover, who took fifth at 106 last season, is the only returning place winner among the valley's AA/A programs.

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

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PREP BASKETBALL: GW girls team has plenty of veterans http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141202/DM03/141209821 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141202/DM03/141209821 Tue, 2 Dec 2014 17:08:54 -0500

By NICK BROCKMAN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Many talented tools return to the George Washington girls basketball team that should allow the Patriots to mix and match for success against any opponent this season.

George Washington returns one of the Kanawha Valley's top players in senior Alanna Mobayed as part of a deep and veteran lineup poised for the postseason.

"We're going to have to lead with our experience and versatility," coach Jamie LaMaster said. "I can go fast, I can go slow, I can go big, I can go small. I think that comes with just having enough experienced players back. They've been around and can adjust to what you're asking them to do."

The Patriots graduated Kelli Jo Harrison, a 1,000-point career-scorer now with Fairmont State. GW will also play without 5-foot-11 senior Olivia Miller, a contributor on last year's regional finals team, who has accepted a soccer scholarship to James Madison. Still, the squad returns many veterans in Mobayed, as well as fellow seniors Hailey Stewart, Maria Romeo and Lilly Ash.

"I've got four four-year seniors back," LaMaster said. "Those kids, they're playing. They're not just on the team. They're four, four-year playing kids. They were all playing last year as juniors, and, at this point, they're projected to be major contributors as seniors also."

Mobayed, a 5-foot-7 guard, brings size and multiple skills to the Patriots that allow her to shift across any of five positions, LaMaster said.

"She can play in the post, she can defend, she can attack the rim or I can step her out on the perimeter," he said. "Now, you're asking one of the bigger kids to come out and try to guard her, and that's going to be a challenge, because she's got the experience and ability of being a guard to slash to the rim. I think her strength is slashing to the rim, attacking the rim. She's versatile, aggressive, can play so many different positions and just a competitor."

With Mobayed off the ball, junior Jessica Lowen will operate at the point guard position, while Stewart and Romeo represent outside shooting threats.

At the four spot, LaMaster said he plans to utilize junior Elisha Davis. Other players expected to contribute inside include Mobayed, Ash, who can also play the wing, and 6-foot-3 sophomore center Shionna Banks.

As a freshman, Banks last year played a key role as part of the interior defense, and LaMaster said he'll look for that again from Banks, who boasts a good touch offensively, too.

"I want her being a shot-changer, a rebounder, rim-protector type kid," LaMaster said of Banks' defensive presence.

From the freshman class, Dee McMillan is expected to provide depth at guard for the Patriots.

With so many options available, LaMaster said he can utilize several combinations of floor lineups to attack opponents.

"You're talking about going eight deep right now, any combination that I have confidence in," he said. "We have been playing those kids in different starting lineups, rotating down, three in, three out, and they've got a lot of game minutes together and they've been together for a while."

The depth at each position, as well as skill level, gives LaMaster and the Patriots hope for returning to the state tournament after falling in the regional co-final in back-to-back seasons.

"We're really looking for an opportunity to get back to that final eight, that state tournament level," he said. "We definitely want the opportunity to get back to the Civic Center. That's the ultimate goal, is to make that final eight."

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PREP WRESTLING: George Washington hopes success carries over to this season http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141201/DM03/141209903 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141201/DM03/141209903 Mon, 1 Dec 2014 21:18:18 -0500 By Tom Bragg CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Huntington, Parkersburg and Parkersburg South are among the cream of the crop of West Virginia high school wrestling programs. When the final matches were complete at last season's state tournament, those were also the only three schools to finish ahead of George Washington in the Class AAA team standings.

This season, GW hopes to become a regular name among those programs with a core of returning experience from that fourth-place team. The Patriots lost 138-pound state champion Jensen Loria to graduation, but reigning 285 champ David Smith returns for his senior season after committing to play football at Kent State University in October.

Smith finished his junior season with a 52-2 record, but GW coach Richard Harper said he thinks Smith can do even better as a senior.

Harper said Smith entered last season in need of dropping close to 40 pounds to make weight, and that hurt him in his two losses. Once he had the weight under control, however, Smith turned into a state champion.

"What happened is it clicked for him during the season," Harper said. "He had two losses and both of those were due to losing weight. He didn't have his body trained to handle it yet. By the end of the season at the state tournament his weight was under control.

"In the offseason he really committed himself to the weight room. He went from a boy to a man. He's a lot more experienced and he knows what he wants. He's going to be a good leader for us. He's a nice kid and keeps things funny in the wrestling room but when he flips that switch you don't want to be the man under him. Trust me."

The Patriots return three other place winners from last season's state tournament in junior Hunter Jones (2nd, 106), junior Phillip Sharp (3rd, 106) and junior Sam Moore (4th, 113).

"There's a lot of leadership and I'm looking forward to it," Harper said. "They are all solid wrestlers."

n n n

HUNTINGTON ENTERS the season as the two-time defending Class AAA state champion, but coach Rob Archer cautions against using that designation to label his Highlanders as the favorite to win the next state title.

"Each year is a different story and I honestly don't know what the story is going to be this year," Archer said.

The Highlanders again have a decorated group of wrestlers returning and this season are led senior Jordan Allen. The 120-pound champion in Class AAA last season, Allen has the chance to become a rare four-time state champion after titles at 113 as a sophomore and freshman.

What weight class Allen, or any of the Highlanders, will wrestle at is still up in the air. Archer said with many of his wrestlers coming off injuries in the offseason and another group just joining the team from Huntington's football team there is still a lot for the Highlanders to determine. That, to him, makes it difficult to look ahead at things like a third team title or fourth individual honor for Allen.

"The fact is that (Allen) could go into the season not being the favorite because there are guys in his weight class he hasn't seen all three years," Archer said. "I don't know where we stand but I don't believe we're the favorite. We're in the mix but I don't think we're the favorite."

n n n

IN ADDITION to GW's Smith and Huntington's Allen, there are nine other individual Class AAA state champions returning from last season.

Of those 11, eight are seniors - Smith, Allen, Huntington's Logan Grass (106), Winfield's Bryce Humphreys (132), Wheeling Park's Dylan Taylor (145), Parkersburg's Trapper Hays (152), Lewis County's Kyle Rogers (170) and Ryan Carson (195).

Hays, the 2013 Outstanding Wrestler Award winner, and Humphreys went undefeated last season. Humphrey was also the champion at 126 as a sophomore.

The remaining three returning champions are juniors Lucas Simpkins from Ripley (126), Brandon Tenney from Buckhannon-Upshur (113) and sophomore Justin Allman from Parkersburg South (182).

n n n

WHILE WRESTLING has been thriving in recent seasons at GW, the other schools in the Kanawha Valley have been hard pressed to recreate that success.

Only three wrestlers from schools other than GW that placed at last season's state tournament return this season among the Kanawha and Putnam county Class AAA schools. Two are from St. Albans - juniors Micah Crewdson (4th, 120) and Trey Harman (5th, 138). The other is Nitro senior Hunter Skeens (6th, 220).

Contact sportswriter Tom Bragg at tom.bragg@dailymailwv.com or at 304-348-4871. Follow him on Twitter @TomBraggSports.

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GIRLS BASKETBALL: Ullman, Hoover aim to reach state tournament http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141201/DM03/141209904 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141201/DM03/141209904 Mon, 1 Dec 2014 21:16:12 -0500 By Chris Wade CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Herbert Hoover coach Greg Ullman continued to lead the Huskies' program resurgence last season, tying a school record for single-season wins with 18.

With six returning players with a lot of starting experience, Ullman hopes for continued big things for Hoover when the Huskies open their season on December 9th at Chapmanville.

"We have got some momentum going from last year, tying a school record for wins," Ullman said. "We have six girls returning that got a lot of time and experienced the winning. They have a good winning attitude."

Ullman likes where the program is.

"I am very proud and happy with where we are at," Ullman said. "We made the regionals last year and would like to take that extra step and get to states. That is the goal. Four or five years ago, that wouldn't have been a thought. We have came a long way and are very competitive now. The kids have the confidence that we can beat anybody on our schedule. They have started to turn the corner and have worked very hard to get where we are at."

Bailey Aab, Caroline Thornburg, Bethany Romine, Zoey Carte, Keri Harding, and Hannah Schoolcraft return, having started at some point last season.

Aab and Schoolcraft are expected to be the heaviest contributors in the post, giving the Huskies an inside presence. Both excelled on the soccer field, with Aab earning first-team All-State and Schoolcraft earnined second-team honors.

"Bailey will play the five position and will be our main post player," Ullman said. "She's a whopping 5-foot-5. However, she's very athletic, is a rebounder, and is a scrapper. She averaged a double-double last season.

"Schoolcraft is probably the most aggressive kid on the team. Her soccer skills carry over to basketball as far as athleticism and desire. She can rebound, shoot the 3, and handle the ball a little bit. She's very strong, and is an all-around player."

Romine and Thornburg will provide the Huskies with solid shooting, especially from 3-point range.

"Caroline is one of our shooters," Ullman said. "She is an outside threat. She will play the two guard. She's a streaky shooter, and could hit five or six in a row.

"Bethany is a 3-point shooter. She has hit over 70 over the last two years. She averaged about 12 points a game. She is a legitimate scoring threat any time she shoots. She has worked very hard on her all-around game. We will get more out of her than just 3s."

Carte and Harding will provide Ullman and the Huskies with solid defense and intangibles.

"Zoey will run the point through the year," Ullman said. "She's not a tall kid at about 5-foot tall but she is a winner. She was on the softball team that won the state title, along with Caroline. She knows the hard work it takes to win, and will be one our leaders.

"I really look for Keri to blossom. She has been in the shadows. She can shoot, drive, and is a very smart player. She knows everything that is going on the floor."

Ullman is also excited about the rotation filling out with senior Courtney Grimm as well as a what he called one of the biggest freshman class of seven he has had with the Huskies, led by Taylor Bailey, who had a solid first season with the soccer team.

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Sophomores will guide Sissonville http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141201/DM03/141209905 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141201/DM03/141209905 Mon, 1 Dec 2014 21:15:03 -0500 By Michael Dailey CHARLESTON, W.Va. - Sissonville High School boys basketball coach Rich Skeen guided a youth-laden squad to a 9-14 record in his 10th season with the Indians' program.

It looks like his eleventh season will be more of the same.

The Indians will enter the regular season with a team make up of two seniors, six sophomores and eight freshmen as they look to make some noise in the Cardinal Conference this season.

"That's our whole program right now," said Skeen of the void in upperclassmen. "Normally you would like to say you're young when you have four sophomores, but we were young last year when we started four freshmen throughout the year.

"We only started three at a time, but this year all four will probably start,"

Those four returning sophomores do have some talent, including the Indians' top two returning leading scorers in Blake Newhouse (11.6 ppg) and Chance Brown (10.5 ppg).

Sophomores Seth Bowlin and Bryce Taylor also started at times last season, with Austin Slate and Craig Boggess rounding out the sophomore class.

With no juniors in the program, Skeen hopes his experienced sophomore class can fill the void.

"They've matured and they had a great offseason," Skeen said. "We told them at the end of last year that they can't play like sophomores this year. They have to play like juniors this year and they've really worked to get better."

While they've shown improvement in the weight room and on the court, the one thing Skeen wishes for is more height.

"Their maturity level has improved and they're wiser than sophomores, but the problem is that they haven't grown," Skeen said. "I've had some small teams in my previous 10 years here, but this may be the shortest team I've ever had. We're just little."

At 6-foot-6, senior Steven Hairston is the tallest player on the roster, but Hairston brings with him just three years of basketball experience.

"He didn't play basketball until his freshman year, but he's come a long way," Skeen said. "He has momentary lapses, but he's worked really hard and turned himself into a pretty good player."

The next two tallest players are freshmen Zac McCutcheon and Michael Pinkerton, both at 6-foot-2. Every other player in the program is shorter than 6 feet.

"We're pretty much all guards except for Steven Hairston," Skeen said with a chuckle. "We'd like to go up tempo, we would, but with our numbers, we're not sure. Twenty-two games is a long season and a lot can happen along the way."

Skeen, though, thinks this team's work ethic may help them overcome any deficiencies in height.

"I really like coaching this team," Skeen said. "They practice hard and they play hard. They don't any minutes off, even in practice. To have a young team and to have them work so hard, really says something about them and they're a joy to coach, they really are.

"Our goal is to just get better. They've done everything in the offseason that we asked them to do. We're not going to measure our success in wins and losses this year and we're going to certainly try to win every game, but when these guys become juniors and seniors, they're going to be an awfully experienced group.

"They've really worked hard and hopefully somewhere down the road they'll get paid for it."

The Indians open their season on the road at Nicholas County on Dec. 13.

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PREP BASKETBALL: Roberson key to success of Winfield girls http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141130/DM03/141139923 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141130/DM03/141139923 Sun, 30 Nov 2014 21:58:19 -0500

By NICK BROCKMAN

FOR THE DAILY MAIL

Youth lines the Winfield girls basketball roster as does one of the area's top guards in senior Haylea Roberson.

Roberson paced the Generals in scoring last season en route to the Class AAA Region 4 co-final, but in order to compete in the Mountain State Athletic Conference and return to that level, Roberson will need the aid of a youthful group of teammates.

"The MSAC is quite competitive and quick, so they need to learn to adjust to the speed and the competitive level, and hopefully, they'll respond well with it," first-year coach Chuck Slater said.

Roberson, named to the third team All-State by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association last season, averaged nearly 18 points per contest as a junior for Winfield. She is 300 points shy of 1000 career points, Slater said.

"She's a very excellent player and has a lot of skills," Slater said. "Haylea's a good ball handler."

With Roberson's guard skills and sophomore Rachel Kraschnewski, a 5-foot-10½ center, the Generals expect to have a nice inside-out combo.

"That'll be real beneficial," Slater said. "Rachel, she'll be a good post player and Haylea can run the floor and shoot outside and penetrate very well. Rachel rebounds well and she's got a good touch in the low block area. She's good in the paint."

Senior Cheyenne Sawyer, who averaged nearly seven points per game last season, and sophomore Megan Cavender represent the team's other returning players. Karly Rogers and Chelsea Kirby mark the team's losses as graduating seniors.

A large group of freshman will also be expected to make large contributions this season in Sydney Cavender, Kim Moore, Keaton Broughton and Madison Turley. Sydney Cavender, the younger sister to Megan Cavender, will play the three or four position, with Moore at the four or five, Slater said. Broughton is expected to be a two-guard primarily, with Turley also a two-guard/defensive specialist.

As a first-year coach at Winfield with a young squad, Slater said it's important to learn how to best utilize each player's skills.

"Right now, I'm learning each kid's abilities and strengths and trying to implement them into offensive and defensive areas where they can be most productive," he said.

Slater, Winfield's former softball coach, replaces former girls basketball coach Tim Toler, who now directs the Generals softball program. While Slater continues to learn more about his players, he said he has seen strengths already.

"Their speed and defense should help us and hopefully we can full-court pressure and try and get transition baskets," he said.

That's especially important to Slater, a former assistant at Hurricane, Teays Valley Christian School and coach at Winfield Middle School.

"I like to go full-court pressure as long as we have the talent to do that," he said. "I think we have talent to do that. I also like to pressure the ball as much as we can and set up plays for our offense on the half-court, to improve our chances to score, eliminate turnovers."

With Roberson leading the way, the Generals should be in good position as the team's core of freshmen adjusts to varsity competition. That'll be particularly important, as well as team health, on a thin roster full of youth and potential.

"We should have a good, competitive group of young ladies," Slater said. "Hopefully nobody gets hurt and we'll be in condition. We've been doing a lot of conditioning in practice to keep their ability to finish games."

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BOYS BASKETBALL: South Charleston will lean on Knapper, Grier http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141130/DM03/141139938 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141130/DM03/141139938 Sun, 30 Nov 2014 19:43:10 -0500 By Rich Stevens CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The fifth consecutive trip to the state tournament for South Charleston resulted in a brief visit after the No 2-seeded Black Eagles suffered a first-round defeat to No. 7 seed and eventual Class AAA runner-up Hurricane last March at the Charleston Civic Center.

A roster dotted with youth and inexperience will be relied upon to take the next step for the coach Vic Herbert and the Black Eagles.

Herbert is entering his sixth season at the school with a 109-23 record. He has a 247-58 mark with one state title (1991 at Logan) in 12 seasons overall, but his SC teams haven't reached the state title game.

The key cog for South Charleston as it chases its sixth consecutive 20-win season under Herbert is point guard Brandon Knapper. Knapper, who committed to West Virginia University in September, burst onto the scene as a sophomore in 2013-14, earning first-team Class AAA All-State honors. He averaged 18.9 points, 5.2 assists, shot 86 percent from the foul line and, as the team's best shooter, hit 52 percent of his shots.

What the Black Eagles won't have is their best post player from last season, A.D. Cunningham. He averaged 15.5 points per game in 2013-14, but suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in a football game against St. Albans in September and will miss the season. They also don't have 6-3 guard Jonah Cosby, who transferred to George Washington. Cosby had 14 points in SC's 67-53 win over Greenbrier East last season.

The loss of Cunningham is particularly a heavy blow to the South Charleston front court.

"It's going to be tough," Herbert said about the loss of Cunningham, who was a third-team All-State pick last season. "We're going to have to find a way to replace, more than anything, his toughness and tenacity. I think we can replace the points."

The SC backcourt will be stocked with experience, led by Knapper and guard Kentre Grier. Grier is a record-setting quarterback for the football team. Then, it could be a multitude of players helping the Black Eagles, including 6-foot-3 sophomore Tamon Scruggs. His father, former Woodrow Wilson star Anthony Scruggs, shared state player of the year honors with DuPont's Randy Moss in 1994.

"We have nine or 10 players who I think will be really good players and have a chance to be in that top eight," said Herbert, whose team opens the season on Dec. 15 against Shady Spring at the South Charleston Community Center. "We'll be deep again, but we're going to be young. We'll be experienced in the backcourt, but very inexperienced in the frontcourt."

There are two seniors on the roster in forwards Cheyenne Mabry (6-4) and Jacob Miller (6-5). Mabry hasn't played basketball since his freshman year and Miller is a wide receive on the football team.

Herbert is also counting on help from juniors Deshawn Hatfield (6-2, forward) and Jalen Stevens (6-2, guard) and sophomores Jacob Hill (6-3, forward) and Derrek Pitts (6-3). Pitts dressed varsity as a freshman last season and was a key member of the football team this season.

"Mabry is a man," Herbert said. "He's got a chance to be a pretty good player for us. Jalen Stevens hits the glass really good, he's a great defender."

The Black Eagles will continue their hard-nosed brand of defense. Even without Cunningham, SC plans on pressuring the opposing guards and forwards.

"Defensively, we'll be like our hair's on fire, as usual," Herbert said. "Offensively, we might be a project for a while. We'll rely heavily on Kentre and Brandon until the post guys catch up."

At season's end, Herbert said his team "has a shot to be really, really good.

"We have the leading candidate for player of the year and a WVU commitment (Knapper)," Herbert said. "That's good and bad, because every time we play somebody they'll be out to prove a point that he's not any better than they are. We have to find somebody to take off some of the pressure he'll have on him."

Contact Assistant Sports Editor Rich Stevens at richstevens@dailymailwv.com or 304-348-4837. Follow him on Twitter @richdailymail

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BOYS BASKETBALL: Buffalo staring at rebuilding season http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141130/DM03/141139939 DM03 http://www.charlestondailymail.com/article/20141130/DM03/141139939 Sun, 30 Nov 2014 19:41:57 -0500 By Chris Wade Coaches expect to lose key players to graduation but when it's an entire team, it makes things that much more difficult.

That's the scenario this season for Buffalo boys basketball coach Chuck Elkins, who lost his entire starting lineup and key reserves to graduation last year.

The cupboard may be a little bare, but Elkins and the Bison will look to have a productive season when Buffalo opens the season at home against St. Joseph.

"We lost everybody that you would see in our box score," Elkins said. "We are basically starting all over. It hasn't happened very often."

According to Elkins, it's taking a little time getting the new players adjusted to his system, and Buffalo making the quarterfinals in football delayed some as well.

"It has been a challenge," Elkins said. "We had eight guys that started the first day of practice, and nine more when football was over.

"They still haven't got the seven practices in. We are piecing things together. Luckily, we have a later opening date to get a couple more practices and scrimmages in."

Despite the challenge, it is one Elkins is looking forward to.

"This bunch of guys have worked extremely hard, and played a lot this summer," he said. "They are good to be around, and it's going to be a fun year."

The only player returning with any varsity experience is point guard Austin Hensley, and he only played two games before being lost for the season to a shoulder injury.

Hensley separated his shoulder in the first Buffalo football game last season, and was lost for the year. He returned for basketball season, and re-injured the shoulder.

"He he not got hurt, he would have played a considerable amount," Elkins said. "He will be the starting point guard, and is a pretty good player. He's a good ball handler, shoots the 3 pretty good, and is a good penetrator."

Hensley is the only senior on a Buffalo team that largely consists of juniors. Of the top seven in the rotation, five are juniors, and the other a sophomore.

The juniors consist of Nicholas Whittington, Ty Smith, Devin Rich, Jacob Easton, and Jarrett Bailey.

"Nicholas is our three-man," Elkins said. "He is pretty good shooter, and ball handler. Devin will rebound and play physical. Jarrett is our swing man and is a good outside shooter."

Two players that Elkins is interested in their development is Smith, a 5-foot-10 junior, along with 6-3, 260-pound center Jacob Easton.

"Ty is just one of those kids you have to have on the floor to win," Elkins said. "He isn't a great shooter or ball handler, but is a great hustler, rebounds, and dives on the floor.

"Jacob is going to be our post man. He's a back to the basket player. He's got a little jump hook and is going to be our size presence, take up the middle, and be a space eater."

Sophomore Logan Hunt, a 5-9 combo guard, is the other player heavily in the mix for starting or heavy minutes.

"We have a good bunch of juniors," Elkins said. "Hensley is the only senior. We will get better as the season goes along, and then have everybody back next year."

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