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Wire reports
March 10, 2011

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State Tournament Inside Reports

Sports Thursday March 10, 2011 Girls State Tournament: Fickiesen sets record as St. Marys rolls by Christopher Wade For the Daily Mail Charleston Daily Mail Advertiser CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During introductions of teams at the basketball State Tournaments, opposing players typically meet at halfcourt and greet each other with a handshake.

Greater Beckley Christian's Julia Peterson, however, didn't shake hands with one player from quarterfinal foe St. Marys. Instead, the junior stayed at center court and exchanged greetings with six Blue Devil players.

She was the last member of the six-player Greater Beckley roster to be announced.

As expected, top-seeded St. Marys dominated shorthanded Greater Beckley 76-29 in the Class A quarterfinals of the girls' tournament Wednesday night at the Charleston Civic Center.

Despite the one-sided defeat, Crusader Coach John O'Neal was more than pleased with his team's season.

"We started the season in November with just six players and not even being sure we were going to have a team," O'Neal said. "We seriously debated whether or not field a team.

"I don't think we can focus on the margin of defeat in this game as much as we focus on the fact we went 18-5, we won our sectional and won our regional. It was a wonderful season and accomplishment, and I'm very proud of the girls."

Blue Devil Coach Howard Meeks wasn't celebrating his team's victory until crediting the Crusaders.

St. Marys (25-0) moves to a semifinal at 1 p.m. Friday against Wheeling Central (19-7), which downed Pocahontas County, 48-41, in Wednesday's quarterfinal nightcap.

"I want to compliment Coach O'Neal and his girls," Meeks said. "To have no bench with just one sub, they played us hard for four quarters. We got to remember it's not just about wins and losses, its about character and growing as young women and programs.

"I want to congratulate them for getting here. Some programs would have folded up and canceled their schedule but that's not what they did. They beat some nice programs to get here. They won 18 games so they did something right. You have to tip your hat to them."

Greater Beckley managed to march through its 24-game season with few problems, except lack of depth.

"We managed to get through an entire season with six kids and navigate around illness, injury, and foul trouble," O'Neal said. "We never had a kid foul out of a game or miss a game due to illness or injury. I really feel like we were blessed from start to finish."

Greater Beckley (18-6) was no match for St. Marys, which forced 36 turnovers, and had 32 steals - one shy of the Class A single-game steal record set by St. Joseph against Fayetteville in 2009.

St. Marys senior Kelsea Fickiesen, a Youngstown State signee and runner-up for the Rat Thom Award as state Player of the Year, set the single-game steal record with 15, topping current Charleston Catholic Coach Ashley Shepler's 13 as an Irish senior in the 1999 tournament against Pendleton County.

Fickiesen led St. Marys with 24 points and seven rebounds to go along with her 15 steals. Audra Clark added 12 points and nine boards.

Senior Laura Ward led Greater Beckley Christian with 16 points and nine rebounds.

Girls basketball regional pairings

Class AAA Today's games

NOTE: All games at 7 p.m.

Regional co-finals

NOTE: All games at 7 p.m.

Class AAA

Tuesday's results

Region 1

Wheeling Park 58, Fairmont Senior 28

North Marion 74, Morgantown 58

Region 2

Bridgeport 60, Hedgesville 40

Martinsburg 53, Robert C. Byrd 43

Region 3

George Washington 58, Nicholas County 56

Greenbrier East 76, Parkersburg 62

Region 4

South Charleston 71, Spring Valley 37

Huntington 68, St. Albans 48

Class AA

Wednesday's results

Region 1

Weir 54, Ritchie County 35

Ravenswood 59, Oak Glen 43

Region 2

Frankfort 67, Philip Barbour 27

Braxton County 50, Berkeley Springs 35

Region 3

PikeView 55, Westside 51

Summers County 91, Independence 31

Region 4

Chapmanville 56, Sissonville 40

Scott 50, Clay County 21

Class A

Thursday's games

Region 1

Madonna (18-6) at St. Marys (23-0)

Williamstown (20-5) at Wheeling Central (17-7)

Region 2

East Hardy (17-8) at Trinity (16-5)

Clay-Battelle (13-10) at Tucker County (16-7)

Region 3

Meadow Bridge (15-7) at Pocahontas Co. (20-2)

Richwood (13-9) vs. Greater Beckley Christian (17-5) (site TBA)

Region 4

Burch (12-13) at Hunt. St. Joseph (14-7)

Charleston Catholic (18-5) at Gilbert (16-8)

Tuesday March 1, 2011

Charleston Daily Mail

Girls basketball: St. Albans feels no pressure in matchup against Huntington

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Sure, being eliminated in sectional play last week was hard on girls high school basketball teams around the state.

But starting tonight the pressure is really turned up.

Win and advance to the State Tournament; Lose and you came so very close.

Class AAA regional qualifying games tip off tonight followed by Class AA Wednesday and Class A on Thursday.

Locally, three AAA squads are still alive and kicking.

South Charleston (22-1) hosts Spring Valley (17-7), George Washington (17-7) hosts Nicholas County (20-3), and St. Albans (13-10) visits Huntington (18-6).

Both the Black Eagles and the Patriots could have the upper hand in their contests, while St. Albans will go into its first regional game since 1999 with a tough hill to climb.

"We're just looking forward to the opportunity," Red Dragons Coach Scott James said. "The girls confidence is good and their excitement level is high."

The Highlanders won the one regular season meeting between the teams 69-31.

"They put a good one on us," James said. It wasn't even much of a ballgame."

St. Albans is led by 6-foot senior post player Kandace Parsons, who is averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds per game.

Huntington counters with 6-1 senior Talequia Hamilton, who is averaging 19.4 points, and guard Kiki Smith at 15.2.

"The pressure is not on us; nobody gives us a chance," James said. "We just can't go down there nervous and spot them a big lead."

As for George Washington and Nicholas County, a quick look at each team's record may make it hard to figure out how the Patriots could have the edge.

A look at each team's schedule clears that up.

The Grizzlies' 20-win season came with a schedule dotted with Class AA schools.

When it comes to common opponents, one of Nicholas' losses came to a Parkersburg team the Patriots beat twice easily including by 21 points last week.

The Grizzlies lost in the sectional final to Greenbrier East, another team the Patriots previously defeated.

That does not mean George Washington should cruise though.

"They play extremely hard, are scrappy," Patriots Coach Jamie LaMaster said. "We have to match their intensity and effort."

George Washington is led by senior All-State guard Dri Nazario, who is averaging 18.7 points and six assists. She gets support from sophomore guard Rachel Ward, who is averaging 13.1 points, junior center Alexa Peoples at 12.6, and freshman Kelli Harrison at 10.8.

Harrison is the squad's top rebounder, pulling down eight a game.

Nicholas County features a balanced attack led by point guard Madison Martin, who scored 33 points against Princeton in a sectional semifinal game.

"They've had a lot of success this season," LaMaster said. "We have to play good fundamental defense against them."

At South Charleston, Gary Greene's squad is looking to make a return trip to the state tournament and the title game.

The Black Eagles defeated Spring Valley 51-33 on the road during the regular season.

"I don't think what happens in the regular season means a lot," Greene said. "Any team that has made it this far is pretty good."

The Black Eagles are led by junior point guard Brittany Gordon, who is averaging close to 20 points and eight assists a game. They have plenty of balance though with junior Keke Allen averaging around 16 points and close to 10 rebounds along with senior center Shelley Smith around 11 points a contest.

Senior Alexa Morgan has returned from an early injury and is also averaging in double figures.

The Timberwolves started out hot this season winning 10 of their first 11 before stumbling down the stretch with a 7-6 mark.

They are led by junior point guard Megan Perry, who averages 13 points a game, followed by post players Kyle Perdue at 10 points a game and Hannah Bailey at 9.3.

"They have our respect," Greene said. "We've got to play good sound defense and put some pressure on the ball."

On Wednesday Sissonville hosts Chapmanville and Scott hosts Clay County in Class AA regional qualifying games. On Thursday Charleston Catholic travels to Gilbert.

All of the games are scheduled to start at 7 p.m.

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