CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Behind another record-breaking barrage of 3-pointers, St. Joseph Central’s small-school dynasty continued.

The Irish captured their sixth consecutive Class A state title by sinking 17 3-pointers during an 83-48 romp over No. 2 St. Marys on Saturday.

“We talked about coming with energy, because we didn’t the first two days” of the tournament, St. Joseph coach Shannon Lewis said. “Today the shots were falling, and it’s a tribute to these seniors who showed what they were made of.”

The six-year run surpassed Summers County’s record of five straight titles from 2007 to 2011.

St. Joseph (23-3) smashed its own single-game tournament record for 3-pointers, set earlier in the week. Griffin Dempsey led the way with 30 points, including seven 3s that tied her individual mark established in last year’s title game.

“I really don’t know what it is about (championship games),” said Dempsey, who has committed to UNC-Charlotte next year. “It being St. Marys helped a lot, but I think it’s just used to getting used to playing at the gym and getting into the flow of the game.”

St. Marys (24-2) got a strong performance from Ashley Hall with 19 points and six rebounds, though she also had six turnovers.

“It’s been an amazing experience,” an emotional Hall said. “I love these seniors to death and I’m really sad it’s over.”

Kendra Walker finished her stellar high school career 14 rebounds but only nine points on 4-of-14 shooting.

Mikaela Britton scored nine points while making 4-of-5 from the field, but said the Irish’s speed was too much to overcome.

“They are really fast and they know how to work well together,” Britton said.

In what quickly became a mismatch, St. Joseph hit its first three 3-pointers and led 21-7 after one quarter. The Irish forced 23 turnovers and committed only six, amassing a 31-5 edge in points off turnovers.

“We got (St. Marys) out of the zone quick and from there they were scrambling on defense,” Lewis said.

Rachel Lee, who surpassed the 1,000-point career mark, finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Mychal Johnson, who was banged up in the first half, returned to compile 15 points and nine assists.

Asia Petitte, an Evansville commit, rounded out the double-figures scorers with 13 points.

“Yesterday I struggled a little bit, and today I really wanted to come out and play well for the team,” Petitte said. “My whole goal was to win the state championship.”

In the waning moments of the game, as each Irish senior came off the floor to a standing ovation, Mychal Johnson was replaced by her little sister Mychelle. It was a fitting moment as they finished their last high school game together.

“I totally forgot she wasn’t in the game, and then I go to come out and it was my sister there,” Mychal said. “I kind of didn’t want to come out, because I wanted to play the last few seconds that I had with her.”

The Irish extended their win streak to 83 games over in-state opponents. Another facet of dominance: They have trailed only four times in 18 state tournament games since their run began.

Class A All-Tournament 
Griffin Dempsey – St. Joseph Central
Kendra Walker – St. Marys
Rachel Lee – St. Joseph Central
Ashley Hall – St. Marys
Stephanie Betler – Tucker County
Anna Whelan – Charleston Catholic
Vida Imani – Charleston Catholic
Mychal Johnson – St. Joseph Central
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  • freddie

    Congratulations St Joes on a fine job of your continuing RECRUITING!

  • KN

    Here's some irony for you. We are a Catholic family with children who play for a small public single A school. The population base the private schools can draw from in addition to the "scholarships" given to go play for private schools (remember, they're not all Catholic schools) is just something the public schools can never compete with. I know families with ball players from other communities and I know what "incentives" were offered to their kids to attend their school to play sports. Until the WVSSAC decides to do something about the issue nothing will change. It is their job to correct this. Other states make the private schools play in their own tournament division or play up a class, so why can't WV do the same? I watched the Irish play in Charleston, and I love watching talented kids play ball. They were amazing. But, St. Joe's, put your money where your mouth is and play up. It's like watching high school seniors come back to win the Little League Championship at the end of the year just because they can.There is no logical way all that talent just happens to end up at one school year in and year out. It's time for a change!

    • Irish_time

      KN - giving scholarships is not allowed under ssac rules. Report the school that is giving scholarships and that takes care of that. As for Class A schools playing up .... does this mean Poca, which can draw students from two of the most populated counties in W.Va., compared to Webster County, should have to play up to Class AAA competition? Remember, any student can play sports at any high school provided that student enters the chosen high school by 9th grade year. Funny, I don't remember schools like Class A schools Mullens, Pineville, Burch, Peterstown, Mount Hope, Sisterville etc. every complaining about private schools. Those communities rallied behind their basketball programs and achieved success. Now, it's all about whining and complaining.

      • mark

        irish time. How in the world does the low income kid that is a good athlete get to play for these Catholic and Christian schools? If it takes money to attend? Someone previously stated 8,000.00 dollars a year in tuition! This is definitely beyond me and I could never afford to send my kid to school like that. But he is a really good athlete and Id like him to win a state championship. Any private school suggestions? And who do I need to get ahold of? Or maybe one of the recruiters, I guess you call them, can get ahold of me? Just moved in the area.

      • nicjo

        i know you still have to have good coaching, a good system, and hard work but there is no way to regulate everything. had a mt. hope football coach say that if a kid couldn't get playing time a Woodrow they would "find" a way to Mt. hope. this happens all over. think any of williamstown's players couldn't make it at parkersburg? or valley fayette's at a charleston area school? how many class A champions of a certain year were AA the previous year?

      • nicjo

        #1 there were very few private schools in single A when these schools were winning i.e. moorefield's first football title wheeling central was AA
        #2 these private schools have "figured out the system" since then
        #3 I have witnessed and played enough games in some areas of wv to know you better have a big lead heading into the forth quarter because you'd be playing more than 5 or 11

  • Mountain man

    All you need to chill. A good friend of mines daughter plays for reidsville eastern high school in Ohio. They are level 4 there which is A here. They play 6 girls and dressed only 9 during the season. St. Joe beat them by 2 in overtime at tourney in Huntington. They are from a very rural area in southeast ohio. They handled the pressure D and lead most of the game only to fall in OT. They just won the ohio state championship beating several catholic schools. It's all about players & coaches. Get over it.

  • Joe

    Sean St.Mary's: really? Congrats to the 3 girls because they go to a public school? Grow up! These are high school athletes, don't take your immature anger out on individual high schoolers

  • DRG

    The issue here is not the recruiting, its where the private schools are located. St. Joes can draw from a population of 100,000 people in the tri-state area, while public class a schools are drawing from towns of less then 2,000 people or counties of less then 10,000 people. The most logic fix is to make the private schools play up a class or they will not be eligible to participate in wvssac sanctioned events. But nothing will change while the diocese is lining the pockets of the ssac. They have to support Ray's outrageous salary while he sets on his fat ass in his office on 47.

    • Wirerowe

      What DRG . I agree with what DRG except it has nothing to do with the dioces. These schools could be atheist or snake handlers it wouldn't matter. Rural schools with small geographically defined school districts cannot compete with urban schools with undefined school districts that many times are on state borders. It is not the SSAC 's job to help these urban schools attract students by creating the excitement from winning championships. It is the SSAC's job to create fair play. They should find a way to make the urban A schools play up. If they can't, they should step down.

      • Scott

        Why not do like Maryland and not permit State Tournament play for private Catholic schools? It makes sense. I just watched the ACIT's this week with teams like Mt St Joseph from Baltimore, Paul VI from Fairfax, Bishop O'Connell from Arlington. There is no way public schools can compete against these private schools. Every team has multiple D1 players. These teams are nationally ranked and have sponsors like Nike and UA. It just isn't fair to the public school kids.

  • Fact Check

    I hate to burst the bubble of some of these commenters but out of the six seniors, 3 have gone to st joe since kindergarten, 2 since 4 and 5 grade and one since sixth grade. They were not recruited. Their skill comes from hard work and dedication to each other.

    • nicjo

      Here's a scenario. Let's say Jarod moves into Harrison county, he is a former WVU athlete with 3 children, and wants to enroll the oldest at Notre Dame. The children are ages 1-5. Then there is non-athletic Jack, with the same family situation. Now Notre Dame wants to make sure they keep each class under 70 kids so they can stay single A, and they are currently at 68. Who are they going to let in?? How about Cabell county home of St. Joe's. Cabell a population of 97,000. Tucker county 7,000. Private schools don't filter who they want or don't want? Baloney.

      • What?

        nicjo - you make no sense. The enrollment ceiling for class A schools is around 400 students. The largest Catholic school - Wheeling C - has about 220 students. Notre Dame is not filtering anything. Your rationale is totally useless.

    • Re- Check Facts

      Asia Petitte played at Teays Valley Christian in 2008-09 7th grade by my public school calculations. This is on Max Preps if you want to check it out. Played in 10 varsity contests. How many years of eligibility do you get? 4 for public schools. Also last season coach Lewis said in a pre-season interview in the Harold Dispatch that she "had returned to her old school" but somehow returned to St.Joe's in time for the season to begin.

    • Love the Game

      Reply to "Fact Check": ok, when I add up your "hometown" players I only came up with 6 total. We all know that you can't play with SIX players. Since you want to state the facts, please tell us where the other 8 players are from.

    • Private school

      Don't even bother to explain! It's the same tired argument year after year. There is a reason that hear kids go to private school vs public school.

  • Say What?

    My fellow Protestants: Quit whining about Catholic vs public already! I watched three quarters of the game, and witnessed a St. Marys team that needs to work on defensive pressure. In your face kind of pressure. Of the ten threes that the other team made in the first half, only one was contested. As far as offense goes, the Blue(purple) Devils were a cold-shooting team today. It happens. The Catholic girls could've been on that side of the coin, but they were not. Not today, anyway. Also, a few hundred more line drills and a few hundred more laps of duck walks may have helped with the mismatched speed. The Devils looked out of shape today and nervous about trying not to screw up.

    • Scott

      You can practice all you want, but everybody has an individual ceiling. Fact is they were outclassed. Not taking anything away from St Josephs. I could train all I wanted, but could never beat Usain Bolt in a foot race. Superior talent almost always wins.

    • Yea right

      I tell you what. Take all the girls that get free education from being recruited off that team and lets see the final score. They would be playing the same as St Mary's today. You can say our girls didn't play well all you want. But when the competition is completely out of the league then there is zero chance of redemption no matter how you play.

  • Art in Ohio

    It was never a game. St. Marys was completely out matched in all phases of the game. I believe Huntington would beat Parkersburg South if the game was played today. I don't know where the Catholic schools come up with these great players year in and year out but they seem to have several D-1 prospects every year. St Marys lost two games this year both to Catholic teams. That's all I have to say about that.

    • Love the Game

      St. Joe actually played the 2013 AAA state champs Parkersburg South in regular season last year (2012-2013 season) and beat them. Just goes to prove the talent on that team is AAA talent. So defeating a single A team (that plays other single A, in state teams) is not an accomplishment at all.

    • LoL

      Look at who St. Marys played...what is that like 3 solid games? Look at St. Joe schedule...St Marys goes 3-23...anyone can win if its a super weak schedule.

      • T

        One team has a roster full of legit D1 basketball players.

        The other is full of girls from a town with 2,000 people in in that won't play a meaningful game of basketball after high school.

        Who's gonna win?

  • shocked

    Congratulations? I guess.

  • Discouraged Fan

    Tired of St Joe winning all the time its just another type of bulling They need to be like Huntington prep and go national.Public school kids work hard to go to the state tourney to play for second
    we have to play with what walks in the door

  • From the cheap seats

    Schools that are able to openly recruit and have students from any county should not be able to compete in SSAC sanctioned tournaments. Credit Saint Mary's for getting to this game 3 years in a row and winning the true public school state championship!

    • Scott


    • Concerned

      I completely agree. If a really good team keeps getting destroyed in the championship game, something is going on. St. Joseph should not be in the same league. It isn't even competition at this point. This will keep happening unless something is changed. Congrats to St Mary's.

      • Chuck

        Let's say this slowly for the SM crowd, these seniors have went to ST Joe since GRADE SCHOOL. Great group of girls who are very talented, singled minded and well coached.

        • mike

          yes. Well coached by one of the fathers who coaches the same girls in AAU and then sits courtside at the high shool games calling all the plays, defenses and even timeouts. It's a great benefit to be able to coach out of season as well as in season. You just need a flunky to claim to be the high school coach. I have even heard that the father/AAU coach even goes into the locker room before games and at halftime, but I haven't seen this myself.

        • Re- Check Facts

          Chuck why is Asia Petitte listed on the 08-09 Teays Valley Christian roster on Max Preps if as you say she went to St. Joe in GRADE SCHOOL? Something isn't adding up.

        • Playerswin

          The players are very talented. You could take any single A school coach in the state and win with those players. They have four starters that are better than any other single a player in the state.The coach at st Jo's could not win any state championship with any other school in the state at any level He is playing with a loaded deck. He is a fraud

        • Really

          Even if that were true (looking at the roster it is not), what about the other 5 years? The answer is they should be in their won catholic league or playing at least double A.

      • sean St.Marys

        It is time the WVSSAC steps up. Like Pa. Oh. Va. NC. and Md. private schools in those states play one division above their numbers. So the likes of St.Joseph,wheeling cc,Trinity, and yes our neighbor parkersburg cathlic, should all be playing in AA. Maybe its time for a change in administration at the WVSSAC if they can't see the light. It's what every true public school deserves. I believe furthermore,that if a child,does not reside ,in the county, they shouldn't be able to play there. Some schools are cutting the real taxpayers throat.We are paying for educations of other countys children.

        • Low Rider

          This "recruiting" argument is totally bogus. If Parkersburg Catholic truly recruits, they have been doing a really bad job at it and need to find a new recruit in coordinator. The Crusader girls finished 8-18 this year, and haven't won a state championship in nearly 10 years. Their roster is made up of kids that have been in the catholic school system since elementary school. I think many people in WV are tired of hearing public school supporters crying when they lose.

        • Dave in VA

          Not true about Maryland. Private schools in that state cannot compete at any level in the Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association (MPSSAA). They are completely ineligible in all sports.

          • Scott

            They can play regular season games, but Catholic or any private school is ineligible for post season tournament play.

        • sean St.Marys

          Keep your heads up Lady Devils. Your town is truly behind you, all the way!!!!

          Congrats To:
          stephanie Belter Tucker county
          Ashley Hall and Kendra Walker
          From SMHS
          Three kids not from private recruiting schools. 3 out of 8