FAIRMONT — In a 2019-20 season surrounded by uncertainty and unprecedented circumstances, it was a pair of unstoppable individual stars and two impeccable all-around teams who brought a certain degree of night-to-night assuredness to the Class AA girls’ basketball hoops scene all year long.
Whether it was making outstanding performances routine, or dominant victories the regular, the collective merits of both forces on each of the individual and team fronts headlined the Class AA all-state teams, as selected by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
While Nitro phenom Baylee Goins and Fairmont Senior sensation Marley Washenitz proved themselves to be two of the state’s most powerful singular talents in leading their respective squads to the Class AA state tournament, North Marion and Winfield coalesced its skill across their respective rosters into Class AA’s top two title contenders.
For their phenomenal seasons, Goins and Washenitz were both locks for the Class AA all-state first team, while the Huskies and Generals tied with a state-best three players receiving all-state honors, including senior standouts Taylor Buonamici and Z.Z. Russell, respectively, as first-team selections.
“They’re just all unselfish. That’s how they’ve played throughout their careers and it’s good to have that. When they’re all scoring and all sharing the ball, that’s when we play our best,” said North Marion coach Mike Parrish of his team. “But this season, even when shots weren’t falling, we did other things to win games. That’s what this team is about — they play hard and they’ve been through some tough, hard-fought battles.”
One of the things I have said time and time again is that this team’s chemistry is what makes them so lethal — those girls are best friends on and off the court. The love they have for each other is equal to the love they have for the game,” Winfield coach Kelsey Spang of the Generals. “Starting at the beginning of November, we worked six days a week — on Saturday mornings when these girls could’ve been sleeping in like their peers, they were in the gym working to get better not only individually but as a team. We set lofty goals for ourselves and we knew this was our year to do some great things.”
Goins earned the third Class AA first-team nod of her career, and this season, the junior star was also named first-team captain for the first time. For the season, Goins averaged 26 points, 7.4 rebounds, 7.6 assists and 3.5 steals a game as she led Nitro to its first state tournament berth since 2007.
“We set a goal at the beginning of the year to make it to the state tournament and I feel like everyone except for ourselves doubted us,” said Goins, who ripped off 44 points and 45 points in consecutive elimination games against Wayne in the sectional semifinal and Lincoln County in the regional to propel the Wildcats to Charleston. “We just had to come together as a team and continue to fight all season. We went through a lot of controversy and we could’ve given up, but we kept pushing through and kept working.”
Washenitz put up similarly gaudy numbers to get Fairmont Senior back to the state tournament as she averaged a double-double of 24 points and 10 rebounds, while also tallying six-plus assists and steals per game. Senior guards Buonamici and Russell, meanwhile, were the orchestrators of Class AA’s top two ranked teams. Buonamici, who now has all-state third team, second team and first team honors in her career, finished her senior season at North Marion with averages of 17.9 points, 5.8 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 2.8 steals a game. Russell, who earned her second career all-state first team appearance, scored 18.9 points a game to lead Winfield this season, and she saved her marquee performance for the state tournament, where she poured in a record 41 points in the Generals’ quarterfinal win over Westside.
Also earning spots on the Class AA all-state first team were PikeView’s Laken McKinney, Lincoln’s Victoria Sturm, Wyoming East’s Skylar Davidson, and Herbert Hoover’s Allison Dunbar.
McKinney averaged a double-double of 17.2 points and 11.6 rebounds a game for the Panthers, including a 25-point, 18-rebound effort in the team’s state tournament quarterfinal win over Fairmont Senior. Sturm (15.9 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 3.1 apg, 2.1 spg) led what was a balanced attack all season for Lincoln to get the Cougars back to Charleston as the No. 4 seed. Davidson did it all as the floor general for Wyoming East as she dished 8.5 assists per game to go with 14.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.8 steals a game. And Dunbar, who became the all-time leading scorer at Herbert Hoover, finished her career with the Huskies in fine fashion as she averaged 22.5 points a game.
On the all-state second team, Braxton County senior forward Jocelyn Abraham was named captain after averaging a double-double of 22.4 points and 10.0 rebounds. Joining Abraham on the second team as fellow senior leaders are Frankfort’s Makenna Douthitt, Lincoln’s Allison Rockwell, Bluefield’s Jaisah Smith, Mingo Central’s Ziah Rhodes, and Winfield’s Lauren Hudson. North Marion junior Karlie Denham and Logan sophomore Peyton Idlerton rounded out the second team.
The all-state third team is captained by Westside senior Rianna Kenneda after she led the Renegades to the state tournament. Bridgeport landed two players on the third team in Paige Humble and Gabby Reep, while the rest of the third team consisted of Winfield’s Emily Hudson, Wayne’s Alanna Eves, River View’s Kristen Calhoun, Grafton’s Meredith Maier, and North Marion’s Katlyn Carson.