GLENVILLE, W.Va. — Gilmer County’s 2016 girls basketball story has been told, relived and reflected upon countless times already.

And while the Titans’ first state championship was an incredible feat — ending the streak of then seven-time defending champ St. Joseph Central — Gilmer County’s 2017 team has had to take on a new role, and mindset, in an effort to defend that title.

“We have the target now and the girls have definitely felt that pressure,” said head coach Amy Chapman. “We have to get better at handling that. The start of the season was rocky, but we have used it as a learning moment, something we can push through and bounce back from those challenges.”

The Titans (8-1) have bounced back nicely from some early-season adversity as Gilmer County fell to Tucker County 55-48 in just the second game of the year.

“Tucker County came ready to play,” Chapman said. “They played us well defensively and we weren’t ready for it mentally. We took them for granted and weren’t real fundamental with the basketball. We didn’t do some things defensively that we are capable of. They completely exposed our weaknesses.”

It was a pivotal teaching moment for Chapman with her club – a loss that almost did more good than anything, helping put last season firmly in the past.

“I’ve been telling the team that we can’t keep thinking about last year, we have to move on,” she said. “It’s just a totally different team. We lost two (starters) from last year, but those two were really significant to our program. We’ve had to have kids step up.

“That loss brought us back down,” Chapman continued. “We were still up on that high of the state tournament from last year. But it’s a whole new year and other teams are reloaded and we have a target on our back. We have to expect teams to come in ready to play and we have to work a lot harder in practices.”

Senior starters Mackenzie Huff and Emile Jedamski moved on after last year’s title. But the Titans still returned several key pieces, including leading scorers and Concord signees Riley Fitzwater and Kylie Shuff.

Matt Sunday, WVMetroNews.com

Gilmer County’s Riley Fitzwater is one of the best shot-blockers in the state, setting records a season ago at the state tournament.

The 6-foot-3 Fitzwater has established herself as one of the more dominant players inside the lane in the state, while Shuff proved her toughness and athleticism throughout last year’s title run.

“Both of those two are great leaders,” Chapman said. “They both worked hard over the offseason and traveled around with an AAU team – they’ll hopefully get to play four more years together in college after signing with Concord.”

Also back in the mix is another senior, Carly Somerville, who averaged around 10 points per game last year as well.

“Carly has been a starter from her freshman year, too,” Chapman said. “The only games she hasn’t started were her first two games of her freshman season. She has played a lot of minutes on the floor, she knows her role and does it really well.”

Gilmer County debuted fourth out of Class A in the first release of the MetroNews Power Index, while Tucker County’s win over the Titans helped propel the Mountain Lions to Class A’s top spot.

GILMER COUNTY
Girls Basketball Schedule

1 12/07/16 7:00PM H – WEBSTER COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL  67 17  W
2 12/12/16 5:00PM A – IOGA TOURNAMENT GILMER VS TUCKER  48 55  L
3 12/13/16 7:00PM A – DODDRIDGE COUNTY  66 25  W
4 12/15/16 4:00PM A – ST. MARYS  54 33  W
5 12/20/16 7:00PM A – ROANE COUNTY  51 39  W
6 12/27/16 7:00PM A – CALHOUN COUNTY MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL  68 17  W
7 12/29/16 2:00PM A – WINFIELD  52 41  W
8 12/30/16 2:00PM A – NICHOLAS COUNTY  49 43  W
9 01/03/17 7:00PM H – DODDRIDGE COUNTY  66 31  W
10 Cancelled 7:00PM A – WEBSTER COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL   
11 01/07/17 7:00PM H – CALHOUN COUNTY MIDDLE/HIGH SCHOOL   
12 01/11/17 7:00PM H – CLAY COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL   
13 01/13/17 7:00PM H – RAVENSWOOD   
14 01/16/17 10:45AM A – EF CLASSIC-SUMMERS COUNTY   
15 01/20/17 7:00PM A – BRAXTON COUNTY   
16 01/24/17 7:00PM H – ROANE COUNTY   
17 01/27/17 7:00PM A – CLAY COUNTY HIGH SCHOOL   
18 02/01/17 7:00PM A – WILLIAMSTOWN   
19 02/03/17 7:00PM H – BRAXTON COUNTY   
20 02/07/17 10:30AM A – SHOOTOUT AT THE BIG HOUSE (CIVIC CENTER)   
21 02/11/17 7:30PM A – LKC NOC-WACO CENTER   
22 02/15/17 7:30PM A – LINCOLN   
 wins: 8   lost: 1   ties: 0

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