The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

March 12, 2014

Fayetteville to face formidable foe

Lady Pirates return to states for first time since 2009, will take on No. 2 St. Marys

FAYETTEVILLE — Returning to the state tournament Thursday for the first time since 2009, some things haven’t changed for the Fayetteville High girls.

Sure, there are new faces in the rotation, but the Pirates will still face a formidable foe in the first round. In 2009, FHS fell 91-60 to No. 1 St. Joseph in the quarterfinal round, and St. Joseph eventually won the first of five straight titles.

This time around for Fayetteville, it’s No. 2 seed St. Marys who will stand in the way first.

The No. 7 Pirates will clash with the Blue Devils at 1 p.m. Thursday in the opening round of the Class A portion of the tournament at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.

St. Marys, seeded behind only a St. Joseph squad in search of its sixth consecutive championship, logged a sterling 22-1 record this season, with the lone blemish coming at the hands of Wheeling Central.

Coach Howard Meeks, in his seventh season, envisioned somewhat of a slower start this year because, although he has seven seniors, most didn’t have varsity experience as the campaign tipped off in December. “I expected a couple of losses by Christmas time. We kind of grew as the season went along.”

St. Marys rolled up win after win, standing at 19-0 when it faced Wheeling Central on Feb. 21, an outing that resulted in a 58-37 setback. Meeks said his girls “went up there expecting it to be too easy. It was definitely a wakeup call.”

The Blue Devils have enjoyed a solid tournament run in recent years, with 2013-14 being their fourth appearance in the small schools state tourney in the past five seasons.

In 2010, 2011 and 2013, St. Marys was runner-up to St. Joseph, which Meeks likened to a “national AAU” basketball program, and last year the Blue Devils were bounced in the region co-final by Wheeling Central, the eventual state runner-up.

Fayetteville, meanwhile, will be stepping onto the Civic Center floor for the first time since that 2009 defeat.

Of the Pirates, Meeks said, “Congratulations to Coach (John Mark) Kincaid and the girls. We know what it’s like to be from a small town.”

He said he saw a relatively young Fayetteville squad play Buffalo in the West Virginia Hometown Invitational Tournament finals at St. Marys on Feb. 1, which resulted in a 59-52 Bison victory. “They (Fayetteville) struggled a little on offense in the first half against Buffalo, but they really impressed me with their never-say-die attitude and their athleticism.”

In St. Marys, Kincaid says his Pirates will face “a really talented, pretty impressive looking team.”

He said the Blue Devils run well in transition and are also productive in the half-court set. “It’s pick-your-poison. We’ve got to get back on defense, and we’ve got to keep the big girl (leading scorer Kendra Walker) off the boards and keep a body on her.”

Leading the Blue Devils is Walker, a 6-foot-4 senior center who averages 18.2 points per game. Others in the starting lineup include sophomore guard Ashley Hall (15.1 ppg), senior guard Mikaela Britton (10.2 ppg), senior forward Haley Everett (2.0 ppg) and senior guard Tari Ashworth (2.5 ppg).

Other main contributors include two freshmen — Jordan Fox (10.0 ppg) and Jenna Nichols (5.6 ppg).

Everett and Nichols are among the most successful defenders, Meeks said.

Fayetteville will counter with senior Maddie Pritt (12.6 ppg and 4.1 rpg), freshman Kendall Malay (12.6 ppg and 7.6 rpg), senior Avina Sedlock (10.1 ppg and 4.3 rpg),  junior Kaitlyn Sisler (4.3 ppg and 2.9 rpg) and sophomore Kathryn Peelish (4.0 ppg and 4.0 rpg).

Main reserves include sophomore Kaylee Wood (3.7 ppg and 5.4 rpg), freshman Faith Norris (2.1 ppg) and freshman Hannah Franklin (1.5 ppg).

Pritt and Malay have been battling injuries, and Sisler missed Monday’s practice due to illness.

“I think by Thursday we should be full-tilt,” Kincaid said.

St. Marys has defeated Clay-Battelle, Trinity and Magnolia in the postseason.

Fayetteville advanced out of the section losers’ bracket, falling 48-47 to Midland Trail in the section final before defeating Sherman 57-51 in the region co-final contest.

“They look ready,” Kincaid said of his team.

— E-mail: skeenan@register-herald.com

1
Text Only
High School Sports
Saints Training Camp

Business Marquee
AP Video
Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase Obama Seeks Limits on US Company Mergers Abroad Large Family to Share NJ Lottery Winnings U.S. Flights to Israel Resume After Ban Lifted Official: Air Algerie Flight 'probably Crashed' TSA Administrator on Politics and Flight Bans Raw: National Guard Helps Battle WA Wildfires