The Lady Tigers beat Sissonville 56-40 in the Class AA regional championship game and advanced to the state tournament for the first time since 1996.
Chapmanville got a tough draw with No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Summers County and came away with an 80-38 loss to the Bobcats at the Charleston Civic Center. Summers, which has not lost a game since 2008, won its fifth straight state championship, closed out at 28-0 and increased its winning streak to 90 games.
It wasn’t a disappointment, however, for the Lady Tigers, which finished 15-10 and nudged themselves into the elite division of Class AA West Virginia high school girls’ basketball.
The challenge this season is to maintain that and make it back to Charleston.
It won’t be easy.
Chapmanville graduated no seniors from its team last year but the Lady Tigers will not have the services of starting guards and twin sisters Allison and Jenna Evans, who opted not to play basketball in their senior years, instead focusing on softball. Allison averaged 10.4 points a game last season while Jenna checked in at 8.5 per contest.
That leaves two big spots to fill.
Last season, the Evans twins and Kelli Garrett formed a potent three-guard backcourt. All three could handle the ball, make quick moves to the bucket and step out and knock down the 3-pointer.
But now, more of the responsibility will fall onto Garrett, a 5-foot-3 guard who led the team last year in scoring at 14.6 points a game. Garrett led Chapmanville in the regional win at Sissonville as she drained three 3-pointers and tallied a game-high 22 points.
Chapmanville coach David Williamson, who has led the Lady Tigers to back-to-back winning seasons, said last year’s trip to the state tourney did wonders for the program.
“We ran into a buzz saw with Summers County but we ended up giving them the best game in the state tournament,” he said. “The margin was 42 points but in the next game they beat Frankfort by 50 and then in the finals they beat Scott by 45. We felt good about going to state. That’s our goal this year, to go back to Charleston and with a better seed.”
Williamson expects Garrett to have a big season.
The Lady Tigers are going to need it.
“The last two years she’s been our leading scorer,” Williamson said. “I told her that this year she has to be selfish and she has to look for her shots. She has to force the issue more. That will be the first time in her career that she will have to do that. She’s always played off of other people and has let the game come to her. Now she’s got to be more aggressive.”
Also back for Chapmanville are starting post players Kaylee Maynard, a senior, junior Katelynn Hall and sophomore guard/forward Kristin DesRocher, who came on strong last season and played both on the wings and in the backcourt.
All four will have to lead the Lady Tigers in the 2011-12 roundball campaign.
Hall, a 5-8 forward, averaged 8.1 points a game. DesRocher averaged 6.5 points per contest, while Maynard scored 3.8 a game for the Lady Tigers.
DesRocher is the other possible starter in the backcourt with Garrett. She was primarily Chapmanville’s sixth man last season.
“She played guard last year and some forward but we look for her to slide into the point guard position,” Williamson said. “She had a good season last year as a freshman and she will be running the point to start out the season. When the other teams run the zone she will probably run in the high post with another girl running the point.”
Coach Williamson said the backup guard slots are all open.
“That’s to be determined. We’ve got four or five girls who are scrapping for one position,” he said. “We have Hailey Price, Autumn Baisden, Kaitlin Manns and Jessica Rideout, who shoots real well. Chelsea Prichard is also in that group.”
Maynard and Hall are the Lady Tigers’ go-to players in the paint.
“Maynard started for us last year and Hall started every game for us and averaged near a double-double,” Coach Williamson said. “We lost the twins but we still return four out of our top six players.”
Michelle Mangus, a junior forward, will also be counted on for quality minutes. Talya Berry, a 6-0 center, has also opted not to play basketball this season, Williamson said.
“She played JV the last couple of years but she came on at the end of last season and saw a little bit of playing time in some varsity games,” Williamson said of Mangus. “She’s going to step in to take Berry’s playing time. She will be our first post player off the bench.”
Emma Paris, who did not play last season, is back on the team.
“She’s another junior who sat out last year. She’s one of our better big girl shooters but sitting out last season really hurt her,” Williamson said.
Hillary Hainer, a freshman, has also been impressive, Coach Williamson added.
“She’s going to be fighting for a varsity rotation spot,” he said. “We may go deeper this year on the bench, maybe eight, nine or 10. Our girls, however, have to buy into their roles. One player might play 20 minutes one night and four the next.”
Tiara Pridemore, a sophomore, gives the Lady Tigers another option.
Chapmanville enters the season as the Class AA No. 9-ranked team in the state in the AP poll and the No. 7-ranked preseason squad in the coaches poll.
Chapmanville is scheduled to open the season on Thursday, Dec. 8 at county rival Logan.
Two other highlights to the Lady Tigers’ schedule is a Dec. 16 game against Buffalo at the Hoops Classic at the Charleston Civic Center and a contest at Summers County on Dec. 31 in the Charleston Catholic Shootout.
“It is nice to be able to play them,” Williamson said of Summers County. “I hope they are still undefeated when we play. That will give us a shot at ending their streak. We’re also playing Buffalo in the Hoops Classic and that’s good to be able to get the girls out there on the Civic Center floor right before Christmas time and go and get something to eat. It’s a 3:30 game, so it will be a little bit different atmosphere. Buffalo is ranked No. 3 in the state in one Class A poll, so our scheduled doesn’t get any easier.”
CRHS hosts Logan on Jan. 26 and also has a home-and-home non-league series with Tug Valley.
Chapmanville has Cardinal Conference home-and-homes with league foes Point Pleasant, Herbert Hoover, Tolsia, Poca, Wayne, Scott and Sissonville.
Scott, which lost 86-41 in last year’s Class AA state championship game and are led by WVU signee Makenzie White, is the preseason No. 2 team. Tolsia is ranked No. 5 in the state.
“The Cardinal Conference is as good as ever,” Williamson said.
The Lady Tigers’ Class AA sectional is brutal with Tolsia, Scott, Tug Valley, Wayne and new school Mingo Central, who expects to have a good season this fall.
“Our sectional is the best one in the state hands down,” Williamson said. “There are three top 10 teams in the state fighting it out. Scott is really good with White.
“Tolsia has four starters back and has one of the best coaches in the state with Ric Morrone. Mingo Central is the wild card with the four Single-A schools consolidating. That just throws another tough team into our section.”