Gilmer County girls basketball coach Jay Chambers has a dilemma, and there's nothing he can do to prevent it. What's more, he's not complaining.
Armed with a 6-foot-4, shot-blocking phenom in sophomore Denae Dobbins and a capable supporting cast, Gilmer County is 12-5, has won nine of 10 games and will play for its first Little Kanawha Conference championship on Saturday. Still, despite the success of Chambers' team-first approach, talk around Glenville invariably returns to Dobbins. That talk could soon spread state wide, and for good reason.
"She's our secret," Chambers said. "I don't know if she's going to be a secret much longer."
Despite limited playing time earlier this season, Dobbins has 121 blocks (7.11/game), an average that would challenge state records -- that is if any were kept. Doug Huff, former sports editor of the Wheeling Intelligencer and state high school sports historian, said he doesn't believe records for blocked shots are kept or ever inquired about.
In addition to her amazing block totals, Dobbins has 164 rebounds and a 9.6 scoring average. She's had two triple-doubles in the past three weeks and in Gilmer County's most recent victories over Clay County and Roane County, had 15 and 11 blocks, respectively.
Despite her impending popularity, you'd never know Dobbins is one of the state's most promising high school players from speaking with her.
An unassuming, soft-spoken 15-year-old, whom Chambers described as a "back-woods girl," Dobbins seems to neither seek nor enjoy the spotlight. She says she merely plays the game for fun.
Dobbins' potential is unquestioned. Already "taller than any boy in our school and still growing," Chambers has a difficult time hiding his own excitement.
Chambers went as far as saying that Dobbins, "with the right work and determination, can name her school," but agreed that despite a work ethic that's been unquestioned, doesn't know if collegiate basketball is in her future. Right now, neither does Dobbins.
"This is exciting, but at the same time I'm used to it," Dobbins said. "I'd like to play in college, but that's not my main goal. I haven't been pushed into this. Basketball was an interest I had in grade school. I just decided to keep playing in high school."
Following a freshman season in which she seldom earned varsity playing time, Dobbins spent the first part of this season as a reserve. It wasn't until prior to a Christmas tournament game against Doddridge County that Chambers -- who coached two-time first-team all stater Chad Drennen earlier this decade -- finally inserted Dobbins in the starting lineup. Chambers said his hesitation was a direct result of Dobbins' reserved nature and his desire not to "put her under too much stress too soon."
Ironically, Dobbins' demure is in stark contrast to her play. Even she had to admit, "some girls are intimidated by me."
Though Chambers speculates about a future loaded with returning players and dominated by the possibility of unmatched success, the team's focus returns to the task at hand -- a possible conference championship and attempting to advance to the state tournament.
For Dobbins and Chambers however, a side agenda is being fulfilled. It's one that should go hand-in-hand with the teams' success.
"I'm going to talk to her parents and speak to them about how to handle the media," Chambers said. "I went through this before with Chad, but she's going to attract even more attention."
And many more interviews with the media.