Bruce McKean
Contributing Writer

PCHS Varsity, 40
Greenbrier West Varsity, 36

Pocahontas County High School girls basketball coaches Mike Kane, Alan Taylor and Chloe Bland have had a big task over the summer to replace three starters who graduated and to get the youngest team that I can ever remember, ready for sectional play with a schedule that includes top-10 teams Summers County, Tucker County, and Charleston Catholic. PCHS opponents Midland Trail and Notre Dame also received some votes in the pre-season polls as did PCHS. Summers, Catholic, Trail and also top-10 ranked Fayetteville are all in our region.

The first test for 10 of the 11 young Lady Warriors playing on varsity was a trip by car to Greenbrier West High School in Charmco November 30. None of us could remember the last time that West scheduled a game with PCHS, so the major improvements to that school and gym were a surprise to some of us. 

Both teams struggled to score, and PCHS took the first quarter 7 – 4, and West led 15 – 11 at the half.  Sophomore Sage McLaughlin kept us in the game with a third quarter-high six-point effort, as the quarter ended 21 – 20, PCHS. Returning starters and now sophomores Alexa Taylor and Charity Warder got hot in the final period with five- and eight-points scoring efforts respectively that resulted in PCHS winning the game 40 – 36.

PCHS improved on its field goal shooting percentage each quarter with the following percentages: 13, 18, 40 and then 60. West made only five of 17 free throws, while PCHS connected on 12 of 22. Leading PCHS in the game (all sophomores) were: Warder – nine points, McLaughlin and Kira Bircher – seven points each, Taylor – seven points and five assists, Laila Calhoun – four points, eight rebounds, six steals, three blocks and two assists, and Jerica Reed – four points. 

GWHS senior Julie Agee sank a three pointer at the buzzer that cut our final margin to four points. Agee was game high scorer with 14 points. Senior Brittany Bevins tallied 13 points and 11 rebounds.

PCHS Varsity, 43
Greater Beckley Christian Varsity, 30

Two days later, December 2, the Lady Warriors varsity squad  headed by car to Prosperity to face Greater Beckley Christian.  The Crusaders were playing their first game of the season in their brand new gym that replaced one of the smallest gyms in West Virginia. PCHS had a bigger crowd of fans at the game than the host team.

When these two teams met last year at their smaller GBCHS gym, PCHS came away with a tough 43 – 40 win over the much taller team.  Six Crusaders saw action last year, and all but one played last season, and four of their six players are now seniors.  All six GBCHS players are 5’ 9” or taller, while only two PCHS girls are 5’ 9” or taller.  

GBCHS also had one new player, six-foot freshman Keyana Jones, who transferred in from Oak Hill High School this season.  It did not look good for the young PCHS varsity that has no seniors, two juniors, six sophomores and three freshman, and junior starter Brianna Hefner is out with an injury from a preseason scrimmage.

Surprisingly, PCHS took a 13 – 7 lead after one quarter while hitting 42 percent of their field goals, five of 12, but missing four of six foul shots. GBCHS made one three-point shot and hit all four of their foul shots. The Lady Warriors missed 10 of 12 shots in the second frame, scoring only five points, just as they did last year, but kept the lead at 18-16 by the half.  

Calhoun would hit six of her 13 game-high points in the third quarter that ended 27 – 21, PCHS, and Warder tallied nine of her 12 game points in the fourth quarter to lead the team to a 43 – 30 victory.  Warder had a double-double for the game with 13 rebounds, and Calhoun grabbed three steals and fouled out with 4:16 to go in the game. McLaughlin and Taylor each contributed seven points, and Taylor also had three steals.  Bircher had the most assists with four, and she got the only block of the game.

High scorer for GBCHS was sophomore Grace Mitchell with nine points.  Senior Brooke Daniels scored seven points and pulled down 10 boards, while senior Abigail Hill tallied nine rebounds.  The taller GBCHS (0 – 1) out-rebounded PCHS by only 31 – 29 and committed more turnovers than the Warriors, 26 – 24.