The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Latest Sports

March 2, 2013

Grizzlies became the hunter instead of the hunted

Nicholas back in state tournament for first time since 2001 campaign

BECKLEY — When Nicholas County got beat 48-41 at Scott late in the season, coach Tom McGirl didn’t get miffed at his team.

He didn’t put it down as “one of those games.”

Instead, McGirl and the Grizzlies used the loss to become a better team.

“That loss was huge,” he said. “We had to refocus. The girls had to decide if they wanted to be hunted, or the hunter.”

Obviously, they made the right decision.

Nicholas (20-3) will make its first state tournament appearance since 2001 Thursday when it meets North Marion at 9:30 a.m. in a Class AA opening-round game at the Charleston Civic Center.

The Lady Grizzlies followed the Scott loss by beating Poca (66-30) and AA power Clay County (58-47) in the sectionals. Then, they returned the favor to Scott, winning 39-29 in the Region 4 co-final in Summersville.

“The best thing that happened to us this season was losing at Scott,” McGirl said. “We got bullied. They shoved us around. We weren’t up to the challenge that night.”

That certainly changed.

“The kids were ready next time. They hit big shots and played great defense,” McGirl said. “Shealyn (Shafer) refused to be denied.”

Shafer, a 6-foot senior center, scored 16 points and was a force on the boards against the Skyhawks.

A second-team all-stater last year when Nicholas played in the Class AAA ranks, Shafer is averaging 19.8 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2 blocks, 2.9 steals, 2.4 assists and 79 deflections.

“Shealyn doesn’t look at anybody in awe,” McGirl said. “She can score inside or outside, and has the best 3-point percentage on the team.

“She’s the hardest worker I’ve ever coached. As good a player as she is, she’s an even better person. I feel blessed to have coached her.”

But it wasn’t just Shafer who came up big against Scott. Junior backup guard Makayla Willis sank several key baskets while the Skyhawks were focusing on Shafer.

“Makayla was the MVP of the regional,” McGirl said. “She hit three 3s that basically turned the game.”

Willis averages just four points a game, but has really come alive in the tournaments.

Besides Shafer, the other starters are point guard Mykenzie Martin, a sophomore averaging 10.1 points, 3 assists and 38 3s; 6-foot senior forward Nicole Hamilton, who contributes 6.3 points, 6.3 rebounds and has made 67 deflections; and senior guard Lauren Young, a three-year starter who tallies 7.8 points and 5.5 assists per game and has a 3-1 assist-turnover ratio.

Like Willis, Lindsay Hogan’s scoring average — 2 ppg — is deceiving. A streak shooter, she’s capable of lighting up the scoreboard if she’s on.

McGirl knew he had a shot at states after an early  home win against Robert C. Byrd, which was ranked No. 3 in the preseason.

“We beat them by 24, and it was actually not that close,” he said. “We knew we had the nucleus to have a good season, and the kids have stayed healthy and done a good job.

“It all starts with Shealyn, but as the season went along the supporting cast has developed into a nice team.”

North Marion, 18-4 after postseason wins over Oak Glen (83-32), Fairmont Senior (51-50) and Braxton County (65-59), is making its fourth trip to states in the past five years.

Winners of 13 consecutive games, the Huskies have solid junior posts in Anna Moscufo (14.2 ppg) and Noca Singleton (6.4) and smooth-shooting guards in senior Audia Bartlett (11.5), who is back from ACL surgery, and freshman Megan Hallar (12.3).

Hallar scored 27 points in the win over Fairmont Senior and poured in 18 against Braxton. Moscufo added 13 points against Braxton, mostly in the second half.

“It’s an interesting matchup. They’re a lot like us,” McGirl said. “They’ve got talented post players and two guards who can flat-out shoot.

“You never know what can happen when you go to the state tournament. We’re excited for the challenge.”

— E-mail: dstillwell@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
Latest Sports
  • cato Word is out on Marshall's Cato

    Rakeem Cato is easily the face of Marshall football. He also has been mentioned as a darkhorse candidate for the Heisman Trophy. That status is legitimate.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • bush Bush making Saints look good

    For his first four seasons, Rafael Bush was simply looking to land on a roster — any roster.

    July 30, 2014 1 Photo

  • Practice, not temps, heats up for Saints
    The temperatures may have only been in the low 70s Tuesday afternoon at the Saints new practice facility at The Greenbrier, but now a third of the way into the 15 practices, it’s clear that the heat has turned up with playing time and positions on the line.

    July 30, 2014

  • Bowles has a support system
    Colin Bowles, the 14-year-old little brother of Corey, is coming into his own as a successful athlete. The younger Bowles competed last week at the U.S. Junior Amateur in The Woodlands, Texas, making the cut before bowing out in match play. Right there beside Colin, as he has been his entire life, was older brother Corey,

    July 30, 2014

  • Terre Haute hands Miners 2-1 loss in 11 innings

    Ryan Sabo singled home Clayton Smithson in the bottom of the 11th inning to lift the Rex to the win and put the West Virginia Miners’ postseason hopes in serious jeopardy

    July 30, 2014

  • WVU’s Smallwood waives preliminary hearing

    West Virginia running back Wendell Smallwood, arrested on a felony charge of witness intimidation in a first-degree murder case, waived his preliminary hearing Monday, his case now being moved to Superior Court, where more serious crimes are argued, according to The News Journal.

    July 29, 2014

  • Steelers LB Spence caps lengthy comeback

    The whistle blew and Sean Spence sprinted forward, each cathartic step distancing the linebacker from the horrific knee injury that threatened to end his NFL career before it even really began.

    July 29, 2014

  • After years of drama, Redskins enjoy a calm camp

    The Washington Redskins are the team that gave us Michael Westbrook punching Stephen Davis, Dan Snyder landing his helicopter during practices, Albert Haynesworth turning the conditioning test into a sideshow and Mike Shanahan using the podium to remind everyone that he was Robert Griffin III's boss.

    July 29, 2014

  • ingram Run game a point of emphasis for Saints as camp continues

    The New Orleans Saints did a lot of things right in 2013.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

  • gibson Gibson gets a different perspective at Greenbrier

    Tony Gibson is no stranger to a football sideline.

    July 29, 2014 1 Photo

Saints Training Camp