The Press Box For Week of Jan. 13
Sports is alive and well in West Virginia from pee-wee’s to high school to college. The WVU mens’ basketball squad is nationally ranked and, as of this writing, has lost only one game. The WVU women’s team is also playing extremely well and is nationally ranked.
For those who may not know, West Liberty is the No. 1-ranked basketball team in D-II and is an excellent team to watch. I have taken in most of their home games this year and they may be the best shooting team I have seen. Nearly every player on the team can knock down the three and their ability to take the ball to the bucket makes their inside game just as effective. The team as a whole is just as impressive on defense.
As of this writing, they remain undefeated and have received all 16 first place votes in the polls. It’s a short drive up to West Liberty and well worth the trip to watch the Hilltoppers. Both the men and women are on a mission with the Lady’s currently ranked 16th with a 10-1 record.
On Feb. 27, they will be playing their final home doubleheader against Wheeling Jesuit live on nationwide television at home. The women’s game will tip off at 2 p.m. with the men’s game to follow at about 4 p.m.
Of local interest, ex-Magnolia athlete Mark Winters is a member of Jesuit’s team while Parkersburg has two ex-players as starters for the Hilltoppers.
On the local high school scene, several area schools and players are making some noise. This week, I want to look at some of the role players on teams who, without their help, would be in trouble.
Tyler Consolidated has been playing under a new coaching staff this year. When the team leader and scorer Jace Reed went down, some of the younger kids got thrown in the fire. They have responded well and Coach Jones has done an excellent job in building an offense that gets everyone involved. I watched them last week against Williamstown and saw them as a team who battled from start to finish. They made some mistakes but each week they are getting better. Nate Lancaster, Kyle Mason and Kyle Frum are really starting to learn the game. Frum has proved he’s not afraid to battle it out with anyone. Richmond and Smith, both 6-foot, 3-inches tall, are hitting the boards and being aggressive. The two young guards Dylan Roberts and Griffin Phillips are getting more confidence with each outing.
They dropped one on Thursday at Parkersburg Catholic, but more important than the loss was an injury to sophomore guard Dylan Roberts. Coach Jones can ill-afford to lose another player. Let’s all hope Dylan will be back soon
They may or may not win too many games this year, but they can be a dangerous team come tournament time. The Knights have been in most of their games this year, but just need to get over the hump and put a couple of wins together.
The Lady Knights have a nice ball club and go about nine deep. Team leader senior point guard Katelyn Gogan showed some spirit on Friday night at St. Mary’s. She injured her ankle on Thursday night in a win against Wirt County and was listed as doubtful for Friday’s big game with the state’s number three ranked team. She showed her toughness by playing in obvious pain the whole game and scored a team high 14 points.
The Lady Knights only have two seniors on the squad and at times they play two sophomores and two freshmen. They now stand at 7-5 on the season with their home tournament classic this weekend. JoLee Walton looked good in the JV game at St. Mary’s as she poured in 17 points in the win.
Paden City’s Boys have been playing without their big man and leader Luke Cooper, who injured his left shoulder in a collision with a Valley player. It’s uncertain when he will return. The Wildcats, who played only six players, are now down to five and have still been playing decent ball. They finished the Valley game without Cooper and got the win. On Jan. 4, they played a good game against Bishop Donahue at McMechan and were up by nine at halftime before bowing out in the second half.
The Cat’s are undersized without Cooper, but Coach King is hoping they develop into better players that can stay competitive until Coop returns. The Wildcats have good speed and are a tough bunch, who can handle the ball, shoot and play defense. Aaron Heasley recently hit five threes against Bishop and the team as a whole hit 14.
After hitting 14 3’s against Bishop, they came back on Friday with another fine performance and knocked down 13 threes in the loss to Magnolia on Friday. Coach King is hoping to get Cooper back in the lineup soon. Deven Price caught my eye with his hustle and toughness against Magnolia. He had five steals with two coming when he picked Boswell clean. Aaron Heasley continues to improve as he and Zach Yeater each accounted for six of their teams 13 3’s.
Grasshopper basketball is getting ready to host their two major tournaments in Paden City with the Hannah Croasman and Karen Duke events taking place this month and in February. All games will be played at the Paden City Health and Recreation Gym in the old Middle School. Contact Josh Fulks for more information.
The OVAC Wrestling tournament will be held this weekend in Wheeling. Tyler Consolidated has several wrestlers who are capable of bringing home the gold. Brandon Keys, Chase Cooper, Tyler Anderson, Cory Chipps and Cody Hunter should all do well. Coach Chad Snider works hard getting his team prepared for their meets and has the sport going in the right direction.
Paden City continues to stay competitive in in most sports even though they are one of the smallest high schools in the state and they lose kids each year to Magnolia and Tyler Consolidated. It is my position that if you are going to live in Paden City and enjoy the benefits that come with this town, then you should send your kids to Paden City High. Doctors, lawyers, a federal judge, mayors, dentists, teachers, college professors, major university football coaches, college athletes, artists, military men and women, law enforcement, TV news people, engineers, chemists, high school principals and professionals from nearly every occupation have graduated from Paden City High School. While the decision is yours to make for you and your children, don’t say they can get a better education elsewhere. Paden City has a great school and great teachers.
It’s like everything else, the grass always looks greener on the other side. Many have found that to be true. When they pulled their kids from their hometown school to attend another or decided to home school or whatever, they end up regretting it.