When I checked out the release of the 2014 Class A girls all-state basketball team on Monday, March 24, my first reaction was both negative and positive. I was expecting that at least our top three girls in scoring and stats, juniors Tristin Day and Bobbie McNabb plus sophomore Melissa Murphy, would all be voted to one of the four all-state teams. After all, PCHS sophomores Day and McNabb plus graduating senior Heather Snead were all voted to the 2013 honorable mention all-state team last season, and PCHS had not made it to states for the first time in five years. We did get back to states this year and had a record ranking of number four in one of the two key polls tracking the teams.
As I was gathering the data about the all-state selections for an article, it quickly became apparent that the coaches and media do respect our program very much. After all, Day was selected as one of the top eight girls in Class A basketball by being named to the first team, in what may have been the most competitive year in Class A history. Many Class AA schools with top programs, like Magnolia, were moved down to Class A in recent years to name just one contributing fact.
Many voting sportswriters and coaches, particularly in Classes AA and AAA, never see our players play nor read about them unless our girls make it to states or play their teams. That is why the PCHS girls program for many years has scheduled teams in both the larger classes and traveled to play stronger opponents while trying to get stats to coaches and to the media.
We did not have our best game at states this year, and a better second half might have added Melissa to the list and moved Bobbie up a notch or two. Our girls did have the season stats worthy of more slots. When we played Tucker, our MaxPreps programs showed how the total of our top three players exceeded Tucker’s in every stat except blocks, and both programs have very tough schedules. I am sure that Tucker is also stunned that they did not get at least three picks also with their many years of success.
The top eight vote getters named to the first team this season by vote of coaches and sports writers were: Mychal Johnson (captain), Griffin Dempsey and Rachel Lee of Huntington St. Joe, Kendra Walker – St. Marys, Chelsey Parkins – Buffalo, Julie Bishop – Gilmer County, Vida Imani – Charleston Catholic and our own Tristin Day. All eight are seniors except for Imani, a freshman, and Day, a junior.
Tucker County senior Stephanie Betler was named to the eight member second team along with St. Joe sophomore Mychelle Johnson, younger sister of Mychal.
Senior Anna Whelan of Charleston Catholic, sophomore Francesca Steele of Notre Dame and St. Joe senior Asia Petitte were three players named to the eight-member third team.
Thirty girls made the honorable mention team including local stand-out players: Lady Warrior Bobbie McNabb, Richwood sophomore Hannah Brown plus seniors: Tygarts Valley’s Paige Pritt, East Hardy’s Marilyn Cassell and Pendleton County’s Hillary Ord.
Forty-six Class A schools fielded girls basketball teams this season. St. Joe, regarded as the best team in any class, won a record sixth straight state championship and had a record six players honored with all-state picks. The once-in-a-lifetime success of St. Joe, who was loaded with seniors this year, made fewer top slots available to other schools. The next best teams, as far as number of picks, dropped to three all-state picks for only three schools: Trinity, Wheeling Central and Fayetteville. Every other school got from zero to two picks.
The schools ranked behind number one St. Joe based upon the value of their picks (from four points for first team to one point for HM) were: number 2 (tie, seven points) – St. Marys and Wheeling Central, number 4 (six points) – Charleston Catholic, and number 5 (tie, five points) – Pocahontas County and Trinity. Only Trinity with three picks and St. Joe with six picks out of those top six schools ended up with more than two all-staters.
While St. Joe graduates it’s top four players with three going on to play Division I ball, Coach Mike Kane will have his four highest scorers/stat leaders returning next year: Day (17.3 ppg), McNabb (11.5), Murphy (10.1) and freshman Sarah Ryder (9.8). Ryder did have stats at states this year to qualify her as a candidate for the all-tourney team. Add the fact that PCHS (16-8) was ranked from number four to number seven all season long in the AP and Coaches Polls, and the respect, expectations and pressure will be even higher next season for the highly regarded Lady Warriors.
PCHS girls, Tucker boys lead All-PVC teams
PCHS’ Murphy, McNabb, Day and Robertson honored
The PCHS girls and the Tucker County boys led their respective squads with three of the nine girls and three of the ten boys all-Potomac Valley Conference selections respectively made by vote of the two groups of coaches.
Lady Warriors underclassmen Melissa Murphy, Bobbie McNabb and Tristin Day anchored the girls squad. The other six picked for the honor were all seniors: Stephanie Betler and Bekah Simmons – Tucker County, Paige Pritt – Tygarts Valley, Hillary Ord – Pendleton County, Marilyn Cassell – East Hardy and Beth Cook – Moorefield.
Tucker County boys voted to the squad were seniors Ian Nichols, Mitchell Mason and Austin Zirk. The balance of the boys (seniors unless noted) picked were: Evan Arrington and sophomore Logan Cooper – Pendleton County, Derrick Villarico and sophomore Ben Sycafoose – Tygarts Valley, junior Cary Robertson – PCHS, junior Aaron Cole – Moorefield and junior Michael Miller – East Hardy.
Tucker County’s Tom Gutshall and Jim Ambrose were honored by vote of the fellow coaches. Gutshall announced his retirement after the state tournament and hit 500 coaching wins this season. Ambrose led his team to the state semifinals vs St. Marys for the second straight time and second straight loss to a senior-loaded St. Marys team.