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Class A girls basketball: State tournament primer

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — All eight teams in the Class A state tournament begin play Thursday at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center. Both Class A semifinals are Friday, with the title game set for 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

A look at each team in the field in order of seeding.

1 — Saint Joseph Central (22-1)

Having won nine of the last 11 Class A championships, the Irish are again the team to beat. Saint Joseph ran through a highly challenging national schedule, with its only loss coming in a close contest against Mount Notre Dame of Cincinnati. Only five St. Joe games were played against state competition this season and none were decided by fewer than 29 points. The Irish have four players averaging double-figure scoring, led by junior Grace Hutson’s 19.5 points.

2 — Parkersburg Catholic (25-0)

Last year’s runner-up is the lone remaining unbeaten team in the state. The Crusaderettes like to apply fullcourt pressure any chance they can and had not allowed 50 points in any game until a 69-56 win over Tug Valley in the regional final. Sisters Madeline Huffman and Leslie Huffman combine to average nearly 33 points and form one of the state’s most feared backcourts, while versatile forward Aaliyah Brunny is pouring in 17.2 points on average.

3 — Gilmer County (20-5)

The Titans have won seven of eight and are unbeaten against Class A competition outside of two losses to Parkersburg Catholic. Sophomore guard Trinity Bancroft is the lone double-figure scorer at 16 points per game, but four teammates are averaging at least eight. Gilmer County, which has surpassed 60 points in 16 victories, won its only title in 2016.

4 — Pocahontas County (21-4)

The Warriors bring a nine-game win streak to Charleston as they prepare to face a familiar opponent in Summers County. Pocahontas County split two regular season matchups with the Bobcats, losing the first and winning the second. Laila Calhoun, a 5-9 senior, produces a lot of offense for the Warriors, who have surrendered only 106 points in three postseason games. Pocahontas County has never appeared in a title game.

5 — Summers County (19-6)

Something has to give when the Bobcats meet Pocahontas County, with the two teams having combined for 17 straight victories. Summers County narrowly escaped Charleston Catholic, 47-43, in its regional final to reeach this stage. The bulk of Summers’ offensive production comes from juniors Taylor Isaac and Gavin Pivont, who average 21.5 and 17.6 points, respectively. The Bobcats have never won a Class A crown, but have no shortage of success on the hardwood and won five straight AA titles from 2007-2011.

6 — Wheeling Central Catholic (14-11)

Winners of five straight, the Maroon Knights have climbed over the .500 mark and come to Charleston a confident group. Central is hopeful its challenging schedule helped prepare it for this stage. The Maroon Knights will meet Gilmer County in a matchup of the only Class A schools outside of Saint Joseph to win a championship since 2008. Senior Kaylee Reinbeau, a 6-foot-1 standout, will look to make her mark down low.

7 — Tucker County (18-7)

Making its 16th consecutive appearance at the state tournament, the Mountain Lions will need to impose their will inside to have a chance at pulling the upset against Parkersburg Catholic. Tucker has won six straight games, including a hard-fought 64-58 victory over Doddridge County in the regional final. Five-foot-11 senior Terra Kuhn leads the team with 19.1 points, while sophomore guard London Hood will need to be up to the task against the Crusaderettes’ relentless fullcourt pressure. Tucker County has not advanced to a state title game since it finished off a three-peat in Class AA in 1998.

8 — St. Marys (16-8) 

After losing four straight games late in the regular season, the Blue Devils found their stride at the right time. St. Marys has yet to be seriously challenged in the postseason, though it will certainly have its hands full with a deep and talented Saint Joseph team. Five-foot-9 junior Kylie Wright leads the Blue Devils with 12.1 points per game. St. Marys twice played No. 2 seed Parkersburg Catholic in the regular season and lost both contests convincingly. St. Marys finished Class A runner-up to Saint Joseph in 2010, 2011, 2013 and 2014.



Thursday, March 12

Game 1 – No. 3 Gilmer County vs. No. 6 Wheeling Central Catholic, 9:30 a.m.

Game 2 – No. 2 Parkersburg Catholic vs. No. 7 Tucker County, 1:00 p.m.

Game 3 – No. 1 Huntington St. Joseph’s vs. No. 8 St. Marys, 5:30 p.m.

Game 4 – No. 4 Pocahontas County vs. No. 5 Summers County, 9:00 p.m.

Friday, March 13

Game 5 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner, 11:15 a.m.

Game 6 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner, 7:15 p.m.

Saturday, March 14

Game 7 – Championship, 2:30 p.m.

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