The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

March 29, 2014

Johnson named state’s top girls hoops player

HUNTINGTON — Heading into her senior year, there weren’t many things in basketball that Huntington St. Joe guard Mychal Johnson hadn’t done.

Whether team championships or individual honors, she had amassed about every award possible except one.

Coming into the season, Johnson had three goals in mind – winning a fourth-consecutive Class A title and sixth overall for the Irish, maintaining her unblemished lifetime record against West Virginia competition and earning West Virginia State Player of the Year honors.

Johnson secured the first two goals with an 83-48 win over St. Marys on March 15. This week, she completed the trifecta of goals when she was named the W.Va. State Player of the Year, as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.

“It feels really good because we accomplished so much during my four years,” Johnson said. “It’s great to go out with this because I didn’t win it last year.”

In each of her four years, Johnson was mentioned as a candidate for the award, but this year’s performance earned her the sole right of being called the state’s best.

Johnson, who also won the Gatorade West Virginia State Player of the Year award for the second-straight year, averaged 20.3 points per game, 5.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.9 steals per game for the Irish, who finished 23-3 and undefeated against West Virginia competition for the sixth-straight season.

The Notre Dame commit concluded her career in West Virginia basketball having never lost to an in-state opponent ever – whether in middle school or high school.

She now looks forward to carrying on a West Virginia tradition at the Division I power conference level, which includes players such as Alexis Hornbuckle, Renee Montgomery, Whitney Bays and Jessica Sell.

“I’m just trying to prepare by lifting weights and working out because that next chapter starts in the summer,” Johnson said. “It’s not over, but this portion is over.”

Johnson said one of the most special aspects of the West Virginia Player of the Year award is that she and Parkersburg South’s Taryn McCutcheon were the top two vote-getters for the award.

Both have a close relationship through AAU basketball where McCutcheon plays with Johnson’s sister Mychelle for the West Virginia Thunder.

“It’s so great because she plays for my Dad’s AAU team,” Johnson said. “Our families are close and her Dad talked about how she looked up to me. It’s good to know that she looks up to me and we’re the top two players in the state and she’s just a sophomore.

“In the next couple of years, she’s going to be the one to be player of the year and that’s a good feeling. It’s good for her starting young and playing well.”

McCutcheon, the Michigan State commit, led Parkersburg South back to the Class AAA title game for the second-straight year.

She averaged 13.7 points, 7.2 assists and 3.9 steals per game while directing the Patriots back to the championship game where they fell to Morgantown in the finals.

University’s Mariah Callen finished third in the voting. The senior averaged 17 points, 6.6 assists, 4.2 steals and 3.0 rebounds per game.

Westside's Hope Lester, a Marshall commit, was fourth in the player of the year voting while Fairmont Senior’s Emily Stoller was fifth.

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