Cumberland Times-News

March 12, 2014

Keyser opens tournament with North Marion at 9:30

Hampshire faces top seed, undefeated powerhouse Parkersburg South this evening in day’s next to last game

Mike Burke
Cumberland Times-News

— CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Two long and winding roads have arrived at the same destination for the Keyser Lady Golden Tornado and the Hampshire Lady Trojans, who return to the West Virginia Girls State Basketball Tournament today, with one road having wound a little longer than the other one.

It has been 90 years since Keyser (23-2) has played in the state tournament, as the Tornado, the sixth seed in the Class AA tournament, will make its first appearance in the modern area today, 9:30 a.m., when it takes on third-seeded North Marion (20-3), the No. 2-ranked team in the state.

Then at 7:15 p.m. in the Class AAA tournament, the eighth-seeded Hampshire Lady Trojans (12-11) will make their first state tournament appearance in 14 years when they play top-seeded Parkersburg South (23-0), the defending Class AAA state champion and the No. 1-ranked team in all of West Virginia, riding a 28-game winning streak.

All West Virginia state tournament games take place in the Charleston Civic Center.

Keyser vs. North Marion

Katie Hoban hit a put-back at the buzzer of the second overtime to give Keyser an electrifying 53-51 win over Lincoln in the Class AA Region II title game last week to deliver the Golden Tornado to Charleston.

Lexi Carr, who put up the shot that Hoban would secure, led Keyser again with 16 points. She leads the Tornado in scoring with 18.1 points per game as well as in assists with 4.2 per game. Lexi Taylor, who averages 14.3 points and 10.0 rebounds per game, scored 10 points and had 11 rebounds.

Katlynn Tichnell scored 10 points against Lincoln and averages just under 10 points a game, while Hoban scored eight points in the Region title game.

Coached by Josh Blowe, Keyser enters the state tournament on a six-game winning streak and as the No. 1 team in the Cumberland Times-News Area poll. The Golden Tornado has also had a 12-game winning streak this season.

Third-seeded North Marion bounced back from a sectional championship loss to beat Webster County on the road, 76-48, to reach the state tournament, as four starters scored in double figures.

Megan Haller scored 15 points and Noca Singleton scored 10 for the Lady Huskies, who received even bigger games from their freshmen guards, Presley Tuttle, who scored 16 points with six assists and five rebounds, and Christa Tobin, who scored 12 points and had eight rebounds. Three North Marion players have state tournament experience.

North Marion made it to the state tournament last season, but was eliminated early. This season, head coach Mike Parrish said his team hopes to make a longer run.

“We don’t want to go down and exit early,” he told the Times West Virginian. “We want to go down and make some noise and give ourselves a shot at winning it all.”

The Lady Huskies brought home three straight titles in Class AAA (2009, 2010 and 2011) before moving down a class last year.

Hampshire vs. Parkersburg South

Ericka Gordon scored 23 points as Hampshire advanced to the state tournament with a 52-46 win over Spring Mills in the Class AAA Region II final. Taylor Harwood scored 12 points and had six steals for Coach Al Straley’s Lady Trojans, while Tori Veach led the way on the glass with eight rebounds.

Hampshire led 17-8 after the first quarter, 27-21 at halftime, then by six points for most of the second half.

Gordon is the leading scorer on the team with 13.8 points a game. Mary Feaster averages 9.3 points and Emilynn Corbin 8.7. Harwood is averaging 6.0 assists and 3.5 steals, while Gordon is the top rebounder with 6.3 per game.

In drawing Parkersburg South, the Lady Trojans have avoided the frying pan altogether and find themselves squarely in the fire, as the undefeated and top-seeded Lady Patriots boast one of the strongest and most consistent programs in West Virginia. State champions in 2006, 2008 and 2013, Parkersburg South’s stated goal is to win its first state championship with an undefeated season. Coached by head coach Scott Stephens, the winningest coach in South history with a record of 209-67, the Patriots have an all-time record of 624-300.

“We have developed a tradition here,” Stephens told the Parkersburg News and Sentinel in delivering a finalist for understatement of the year. “The thing I am proudest of is our repeat success. It's great to see all the little girls in the stands wanting to catch one of the basketballs before the game.”

On the court, it all begins with sophomore point guard Taryn McCutcheon, who already has given a verbal commitment to play for Michigan State, and who recently set the school record for assists in a game with 14 against George Washington.

Against Class A powerhouse Wheeling Central, Keya Bartlett set the single-game mark for steals with 12. A junior, Bartlett already has surpassed the 1,000-point mark for her career and stands in fourth place on the all-time South scoring list, headed by Coach Stephens' daughter, Jill.

In the sectional championship against Wheeling Park sophomore Anna Hayton scored a season-high 32 points. Hayton and fellow sophomore Carlie Wilson give South a dominating inside presence.

The Patriots, all of whom are underclassmen, defeated Logan, 58-34, for last year’s Class AAA title. South starts four sophomores and one junior. Bartlett, who is that junior, entered the season as the school 3-point goal record holder, hitting seven against Logan in the title game. She and McCutcheon were all-tournament selections a year ago.

Mike Burke is sports editor of the Cumberland Times-News. Write to him at mburke@times-news.com.