The #7 ranked (AP 2015-16 Preseason Poll) Pocahontas County High School Girls basketball team got a rest the first week of the season, and then faced four tough opponents last week. PCHS was seeded #4 out of eight Class A teams at states last season and hosted last year’s #3 seeded Tucker County team (preseason-ranked #3) on December 8.
The very next night (December 9) PCHS boarded buses to Baker to face East Hardy, who vastly improved over last year’s season, and now has one senior on varsity with nine sophomores who played varsity and improved last year as freshmen. With one day of practice, the Lady Warriors then boarded a bus again on December 11 for the annual trip to Summers County High School for the 25th Rogers Oil Classic, an event that began in 1991.
Preseason Class AA #5 Summers County played PCHS on Friday, and PCHS lost their two top scorers from last season, all-staters Tristan Day and Bobbie McNabb. The duo is now playing basketball at Garrett College in Oakland, Maryland. Strong players Natalie Hartzell and Olivia Knisely also graduated. On Saturday night, December 12, PCHS would play in the consolation game versus a short, fast Class AA James Monroe team with one of the most talented freshmen in West Virginia.
Tucker County 69
When PCHS played at TCHS last season on January 21, it was the only matchup between the two rivals in 2015-16 and ended in a 56-45 TCHS 11-point win as compared to Tucker’s 69-54 15-point win last Tuesday. Tucker’s height the last several seasons has been one factor in its success. Tucker took the second quarter 25-10, and that PCHS letdown ended up being the 15 point difference in the final score. PCHS shot only 25 percent in the second frame while averaging 43 percent in the other three quarters. Tucker also had the advantage of playing and winning two games the week before against #4-ranked St. Mary’s and a strong Class AA Phillip-Barbour team, while PCHS was idle.
Producing high statistics for PCHS in the game were juniors Mary Kelly – 15 points, Sarah Ryder – 14 points and eight rebounds, Melissa Murphy – nine points and Tiffany Hoover – five assists and three points. PCHS committed 12 turnovers to only nine for TCHS and pulled down 25 rebounds to 33 for TCHS. High Scorers for TCHS were sophomore Sydney Nestor – 21 points and 11 rebounds, seniors Madison Reall -12 points and Leslie Nestor – eight points. TCHS improves to 3-0.
The PCHS JV missed 22 field goals in the first quarter and never recovered as TCHS took every quarter in the JV game and won 46-23. High scorers were PCHS junior Brittney Sharp – eight points and Riley Evans of TCHS – 10 points.
East Hardy 42
East Hardy led PCHS in the contest until the Lady Warriors tied the game early in the second quarter at 10-10. From that point on PCHS never trailed, but the Cougars would come within three points several times. The final score Wednesday was a 50-42 PCHS win. East Hardy drops to (0-2) with a previous loss to strong Paige County Virginia.
PCHS junior all-stater Sarah Ryder was game high scorer with 24 points and 15 rebounds, followed by junior all-PVC first teamer Melissa Murphy with 13 points and six rebounds. Leading EHHS were sophomores Julia Hahn with 12 points and Maxine Cassell with 10 points.
PCHS JV freshman Aliza Carr hit her second three of the JV game at the end of the game with the score tied at 23-23, and that shot won the JV game for PCHS 26-23. Carr was team high scorer with eight points, and EHHS sophomore Skye Metzer was game high scorer with 11 points.
Summers County 77
The West Virginia girls record books are full of Summers County state and national records, including the longest win streak of 105 wins, that was broken by Scott in January 2012. Summers County did not make it to states last season, and they are on a mission and want their 10th state Class AA championship. The Bobcats have now won their tournament 16 times in 25 years with their 46-37 victory over Chapmanville in a closer than expected championship on Saturday. The SCHS record improves to 4-0.
The Lady Warriors could not stop the all-state Summers County twins, juniors Brittney (22 points and 13 rebounds) and Whittney Justice (17 points, eight rebounds and five steals). Sophomore Hannah Taylor added 16 points, 12 rebounds and six assists. Junior Morgan Miller had 12 points. PCHS was led by juniors Kelley, Melissa Murphy and Ryder with eight, seven and six points respectively plus 11 Ryder rebounds. Summers won the rebounds battle 50 to 34 and committed only 10 turnovers versus 42 for PCHS.
The PCHS JV team played their best game this season in a 43-44 losing effort to Summers County. The Lady Warriors JV led at the end of the third quarter 28-22 with a great 11-2 third period effort. Summers County’s Nicole Lin would hit 12 points including eight of nine free throws in the fourth quarter to take the lead back at the buzzer for the SCHS win. PCHS made four of 12 free throws, and SCHS hit 15 of 25 free throws. PCHS committed 53 turnovers to 31 for the Bobcats, but PCHS out-rebounded Summers 26 to 17. The PCHS JV drops to 1-2.
Leading the way for PCHS JV was Brittney Sharp with 20 points, 12 steals and four deflections. Lin and Megan Thompson of SCHS had 17 and 10 points respectively.
James Monroe 57
The Lady Warriors took their first lead over the Lady Mavericks, 42-39, at the end of the third quarter when Kelley hit her third three-pointer of the game. James Monroe’s biggest lead was eight points early in the third quarter, and Pocahontas would extend their lead to six points at 48-42. Three things then happened: Ryder got into foul trouble and had to sit on the bench; PCHS nerves caused several turnovers and JMHS freshman Gracie Mann made 10 of her game-high 33 points and two of her nine rebounds in the fourth quarter. Mann is the daughter of the JMHS coach, and only scored three points in the previous night’s loss versus Chapmanville. Ryder got her fifth foul right after she returned to the game, and the Lady Warriors were heartbroken about the loss of a game they thought they had in the bag. JMHS improved to 2-3, and PCHS dropped to 1-3.
Sarah Ryder received a trophy for being named to the all-tournament team. Ryder tallied 20 points, 11 rebounds and one block, while Mary Kelley put in 13 points, and Melissa Murphy contributed nine points. Megan Bailey of JMHS had 12 points.
Next up for the Lady Warriors is a trip to Richwood on Thursday, December 17 (6 p.m. JV/7:30 p.m. V), East Hardy at PCHS on Saturday, December 19 (2 p.m. JV/4 p.m. V) and a trip to Tygarts Valley on Tuesday, December 22 (7 p.m. V only). Schedules are updated on the SSAC web site (V schedule with JV and V times) and on MaxPreps– V and full JV schedule including two games versus the Harman varsity.