FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — The Fayetteville boys basketball team entered this week 5-0, emerging as one of the hopeful Class A state championship contenders.
The Pirates finished 19-3 a season ago, falling as the eight seed in the state tournament to the top seed Magnolia, 72-43.
But Fayetteville lost just one senior from that team, returning its leading scorers Will Fenton and Ricky Meadows.
The 6-foot-6 Fenton scored 18 points per game a year ago and is averaging double figures again this season.
“Right now, it’s been getting me the ball inside, because not a lot of guys can matchup inside,” Fenton said of his game. “I can go out to the wing and shoot a little bit, too. Hopefully, if I get to play college basketball, I won’t be down inside that much.”
But it has been the overall depth of Fayetteville beyond Fenton that has made the Pirates an even tougher out.
“We have a really solid rotation and we go pretty deep,” Fenton said. “We’re very hard to guard and we have a lot of shooters. You can’t really just focus in on one guy. You have to be honest with us, so I really like our odds of making a run this year.”
It was an invaluable experience last year in the state tournament, despite the loss, as the Pirates look to take another step this season.
“We have a lot of younger guys who got some experience last year that have really stepped up this year,” Fenton said. “I don’t really think we are taking a step back, I think we’re taking a step forward. Going to the state tournament last year was a big motivation for us. We know what the atmosphere is like and we’re ready to go back.”
Earlier this season, Fenton hit a personal milestone, eclipsing 1,000 points for his career in a win over Valley (Fayette).
“I just needed five points going into the fourth quarter,” Fenton said. “I made four foul shots and only needed one more point. I got the ball in the post, turned to the middle, hit a step-back fade and it rolled around the rim and went in. It was a great experience, something that only happens once. So I just tried to take it in.”
Overall, it has been a senior year full of big expectations athletically for Fenton who also quarterbacked the football team to the state semifinals this past fall.
“It’s been outstanding,” Fenton said. “The first three years, we weren’t very successful at most of our sports. Last year, we knew we were good at football, but our record just didn’t show it. Then we turned some heads in basketball.
“Coming back into this football season, it was a great way to start off the sports year (with the semifinals),” he continued. “We knew we would be good again in basketball, we just had to get the jitters out of the way. We’ve played sound so far and really couldn’t ask for more.”
And as for his ultimate plans beyond his senior year with the Pirates?
“I would love to play basketball at Marshall – that’s always been a dream of mine, to play basketball or football there,” he said. “But I just have to see what happens with basketball, first, before I make a final decision on what I want to do.”
And goal number one right now is getting Fayetteville back to the state tournament — and then some.
“It would be amazing if we could get back,” Fenton said. “It would be an honor to be there and represent Fayetteville well. We definitely would like to make a run and win a state championship this year. We think that we have the components to do it.”
The Pirates will be one of the favorites to advance out of Region 3 as they are joined by Charleston Catholic, Midland Trail, Pocahontas County, Richwood, Valley (F) and Webster County in section one. Section two features Greater Beckley Christian, Greenbrier West, Meadow Bridge, Montcalm, Mount View and Summers County.