PARKERSBURG, W.Va — The Parkersburg South girls’ basketball team made the most of a young roster last season by winning the Class AAA state championship. This year the Patriots are still young — with every starter returning, but none of them seniors — as they seek to repeat.
“We started out last season with high hopes of becoming a good basketball team,” coach Scott Stephens said on MetroNews High School Sportsline. “Then we got to Charleston and won a game, then we started to have higher expectations and the girls lived up to them and I was very proud of them.”
The Patriots lost their first three games last season and four of their first six, but those struggles were forgotten by March when they defeated Logan 58-34 in Class AAA title game.
“We were young and we were playing a lot of freshmen last year,” Stephens said. “It took them sometime to adjust to the speed and the physicality of the high school game. About halfway through the season they adjusted well, and we came on strong at the end of the year.”
South this year starts four sophomores and one junior.
“(We’re) blessed with a bunch of talent, it’s sometime tough to get them all in the game,” Stephens said.
Keya Bartlett, who in just two seasons holds the record at Parkersburg South for made 3-pointers (including her seven in last year’s title game), returns with her backcourt mate Taryn McCutcheon. Both were all-tournament selections last spring.
McCutcheon was a late season freshman call-up who played exceptional in the postseason. In the clinching game, she finished with nine points, 13 assists and four steals.
“We’ve got Keya Bartlett coming back for us — don’t tell anyone she can shoot it, as well as Taryn McCutcheon, who will go onto Michigan State when she graduates,” Stephens said.
Standing in the way of the Patriots are their cross-conference rivals Morgantown and University. Parkersburg South lost four games to those two teams last year, but in the end, the Patriots took care of Morgantown in the state semifinals. All three teams have been ranked in the top five of the state with South at the top of the rankings.
“I think the team who come out of this (region) can win it all again,” Stephens said. “It’s a grind, especially when you might play that same Morgantown and University team four times before you even get to Charleston.”