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    Braxton County Girls Set High Goals for Season

    FLATWOODS _ With four starters back from a squad that reached the Class AA Final Four, it's easy to understand why Braxton County is considered one of the top girls basketball teams on that level.

    And it's also easy to understand why veteran coach John Carson is setting high goals.

    "We've been to the state tournament four times (during his 11-year tenure)," said Carson. "Each time we do a little better.

    "With virtually the same team back from last year, our goal is to get to the finals and win it."

    Of course the veteran mentor knows that won't be an easy task.

    "There are a lot of good Class AA teams," said Carson. "And we play a very challenging schedule. Every game is competitive."

    Plus the Eagles are a marked team. BC was ranked No. 3 in the coaches' preseason poll so opposing teams will be gunning for them.

    "We'll get everybody's best shot," said Carson. "They'll all want to knock off Braxton County."

    But, that will be an imposing task as the Eagles have experience, talent and size.

    "We feel our strengths are our quickness and our height," said Carson. "We've got two 6-2 girls out there ... not many teams can say that."

    One of those 6-2 girls, Mary Grace Carson, is the coach's daughter and also the leading scorer on the team.

    Just a sophomore, Carson, who averaged 16.8 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, is considered one of the best underclassmen in the state.

    She'll be at one forward and will be joined by 6-2 senior center Mary Stewart and 5-8 senior forward Katie Hailer.

    Stewart is a solid post player and a three-year starter. She averaged 8.9 points and 4.0 rebounds per game last season.

    Hailer, who was the sixth person last year, averaged 4.0 points and was a key contributor.

    In the backcourt, Mindy Kniceley, a 5-4 senior, returns and will be in the starting lineup for the fourth straight year. She averaged 9.0 points and 8.4 assists per game last year.

    Amy Williams, a 5-4 senior, joins Kniceley in the backcourt. She's a three-year starter who averaged 6.0 points per contest in '95-96.

    Heather Singleton, a 5-7 senior, and Terra Crites, a 5-10 sophomore, are the top reserves. Both will be counted on heavily this season.

    Coach Carson hopes BCHS is able to push the tempo.

    "We're going to be an up-tempo team," said the taskmaster. "We like a fast-moving game. We'll be pressing, trying to force opponents into making mistakes."

    Carson sees two keys to success this campaign.

    "I think we have to stay out of foul trouble and stay injury-free," related Carson. "If we can stay healthy, we can be very competitive every night."

    The Eagles open Tuesday, Dec. 10 at Nicholas County.


    10 _ at Nicholas Co.; 13 _ at Clay Co.; 18 _ Calhoun Co.; 20 _ at Gilmer Co.; 27 _ Richwood; 31 _at Wirt Co.


    8 _ Lewis Co.; 9 _ Wirt Co.; 13 _Buckhannon-Upshur; 15 _ at Roane Co.; 17 _ at Lewis Co.; 22 _ at Calhoun Co.; 24 _ Roane Co.; 29 _ at Webster Co.; 31 _ Nicholas Co.


    5 _ Clay Co.; 7 _ Gilmer Co.; 12 _Webster Co.; 14 _ at LKC; 15 _at LKC; 21 _ at Richwood.
    Updated December 6, 1996
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    Doddridge County Should Be Much Improved

    WEST UNION _ Don't expect Doddridge County to repeat last season's 11-13 mark this year _look for the Bulldogs to better it.

    Unlike last season when coach Craig Kellar's squad had only one returning starter, the Bulldogs return four starters to a team that went 8-3 down the stretch before falling to Parkersburg Catholic in the Region II title game.

    "We came a long way," acknowledged Kellar. "Hopefully, we'll start the season like we did the second half of last year."

    Doddridge is led by all-stater Kristi Evans, a 5-6 senior guard who averaged 15.4 points a game last season. Evans, a solid player on both offense and defense, is being counted on to provide leadership to the young team. Joining Evans at the guard positions will be sophomore Tabby Hayes, a 4-11 dynamo who took over the point guard position halfway through last season, and junior Traci Rollins (5-4) who excelled on defense last year.

    Senior Mandy Smith, who Kellar describes as a scrappy competitor and one of the team leaders, will also receive a good deal of playing time. Junior Jennifer Ash and sophomore Amber Powell will also see a lot of action coming off the bench.

    "I feel like our guard play is real strong," stated Kellar. "All of the girls can handle the ball and they all make good decisions with the ball. They can all shoot it, if you leave them open."

    Underneath the basket is where the Bulldogs' most glaring weakness shows, a lack of height. But Doddridge will counter this with speed, good technique and determination.

    Marlena Swisher (5-8, Sr.) and Nicole Kelley (5-6, Jr.) are the starters in the paint. Look for senior Missy Whitehair (5-4) to get the first call from the bench backing up the post positions.

    Sophomore Shara James (5-6) and junior Kortni McConnell (5-8) will also be in the rotation underneath the basket.

    "Several of the post players got a lot of playing time," related Kellar. "We just don't have the height that a really outstanding high school team normally has. We're just going to have to work real hard on getting position for rebounds and depend on our perimeter shooting to open up our inside game."

    One intriguing prospect for Kellar's squad is Lori Trent (5-10, Fr.). She will start the season splitting her time between varsity and JV ball.

    "She could be a good one someday," conceded Kellar. "She's done a good job in practice and she's learning real quick. She listens real well. She's not ready to be thrust into the middle of things yet, but we expect her to be an excellent post player someday."

    Aggressive defense is always the norm for Doddridge and don't look for this season to be any different. The 'Dogs will play a match-up defense and hope to keep a lot of pressure on their opponents.

    The offense has received a little revamping. Kellar and assistant Dave Mires have worked hard on installing a motion offense to utilize their team quickness against the man-to-man defense. Teams planning on stopping the Bulldog offense by stopping Evans will find themselves in trouble.

    "We're pretty deep," said Kellar. "I don't mind putting any of those 12 in. I wouldn't hesitate a minute to put any of them in the game. I feel pretty comfortable that we have some people that can shoot the ball."

    Doddridge starts the season against some tough opponents and Kellar realizes his team is going to have to be ready to play.

    "We need to get off to a good start," stressed Kellar. "Early in the season, we play some of the state's top teams, and we've got to get ready quick."


    10 _ Gilmer County; 13 _ Ritchie County; 18 _ at Williamstown; 20 _at Notre Dame; 23 _ Tyler Consolidated; 27 _ Kermit Vanscoy Tournament; 30 _ Kermit Vanscoy Tournament.


    3 _ Ravenswood; 6 _ at Parkersburg Catholic; 8 _ at St. Marys; 15 _Notre Dame; 17 _ at Ritchie County; 21 _ Parkersburg Catholic; 27 _ Williamstown; 31 _ at Ravenswood.


    5 _ at Tyler Consolidated; 7 _ St. Marys; 12 _ Magnolia; 14 _ at LKC Tournament; 19 _ at Bridgeport; 21 _ at Liberty.

    Updated December 6, 1996
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    Notre Dame Eyes
    Strong Season, But
    Must Avoid Injuries

    Coming into last season, Notre Dame girls basketball coach Steve Gibson believed his team could be one of the best in the state. But as the season progressed, the Irish lost their top two scorers to injuries and found themselves fighting to survive.

    But, as a new season approaches, Gibson and his Fighting Irish look to improve on last year's 13-8 record. And, ND returns a solid group of veterans that should lead the way.

    The Irish come into the season losing five seniors and two others to transfers, but return three players who have played a great deal in their high school careers. Seniors Melissa Ferro (5-5, G), Angie Martino (5-6, G) and Toni Kay Oliverio (5-6, G) all have played since their freshman year and, when not injured, have produced good things for the Irish. They are expected to start and be team leaders.

    "Our experience with Toni Kay, Angie and Melissa should help us out early on in the season," stated Gibson. "When they weren't injured, they have started since they were freshmen, but some injuries have kept them out of the lineup the past couple years.

    "But, put that experience together between the three of them and we hope to win several ball games."

    Other players looking to see a bulk of the action include sophomores Courtney Oliverio (5-9, F) and Clarice Dent (6-1, C). Senior Suzanne Vozniak (5-3, G) and sophomore Sarah Freeman (6-3, C) look to be the sparkplugs off the bench this season.

    Juniors Sylvia Basille (5-7, F), Jesselyn Mineo (5-7, G) and Deanna Cooper (5-8, F), along with guards Lauren Byron (5-7, Soph.), Michelle Ferro (5-7, Fr.) and Janay Riley (5-3, Fr.), all could see playing time.

    "Our depth could hurt us this year, but we do have a lot of experience in some players which helps. Others are going to have to learn the game before they can contribute," related Gibson.

    "Our ball handling and shooting are our strengths. We have some decent shooters. Our top seven players that are going to see the bulk of the minutes have good all-around games. If we can play together as a team we're going to be tough to beat. The biggest thing is we are going to have to stay injury-free.

    "Last year I thought we had a shot at the state tournament, but lost two big players due to injury. If we stay healthy we can have one of the best teams I've had since I've been here.

    "This is the first year I can actually state with confidence that we have the ability to win every game on our schedule. I think we can compete with any Class A team in the state and, if we stay healthy, any team in the region. I don't look for any team to blow us out this year."


    10 _ Clay-Battelle; 13 _ South Harrison; 16 _ at Cameron; 18 _ at Grafton.


    2 _ Hundred; 4 _ St. Marys; 7 _ Calhoun County; 9 _ Valley Wetzel; 15 _ Doddridge County; 20 _ at Doddridge County; 23 _ Hundred; 27 _ at Clay-Battelle; 29 _ at St. Marys; 31 _ at Calhoun County.


    3 _ Grafton; 11 _ Cameron; 13 _ at Valley Wetzel; 19 _ at South Harrison.

    Updated December 5, 1996
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    Liberty Will Battle
    Inexperience After
    Losing Four Starters

    Liberty must overcome inexperience after losing four starters from last year's 5-15 team if it hopes to be competitive in the 1996-97 season.

    "We've lost 10 seniors over the past two years," said coach Gary Courtney. "It has taken a toll on us experience-wise."

    Courtney's team is primarily underclassmen and his only returning starter, Julie Bee (5-7, F), is only a sophomore. Despite having three seniors to lead his team, two of them will be seeing their first action on the varsity level this season.

    "Jamie Robinson (5-5, Sr., F) and Brandi Will (5-8, Sr., F) both played junior varsity last year," stated Courtney. "They have both improved from last year and Robinson is doing well at the four position even though she mainly played the three position (last year).

    "Julie Bee started most of our games last year," stated Courtney. "Melodie Nichols (5-3, Sr., G) and Kelly Southern (5-7, Jr., F) were part-time starters last year but Southern will miss the first five games because of a knee injury."

    Despite a few players seeing some starting time last season, Courtney has been unable to tab a potential starting lineup.

    "In our scrimmage last night (Tuesday), I don't think anyone could start ... we didn't play well. I don't know if it was our inexperience or we just had a bad outing," said Courtney. "So, I don't really have a starting lineup set for next Wednesday. And I probably won't know until Friday night when we scrimmage North Marion."

    Junior Kellie Nichols (5-3, G) and freshman Amy Bland (5-0, G) will be vying for time at the guard positions. Freshmen Stefanie Kopp (5-6, G) and Amanda Goff (5-8, C) will also be looking for playing time.

    "We will play Stefanie at the two or three position and Amanda will help on the inside," Courtney said. "Kellie will relieve our guards when we need her to, while Amy will see some action at point guard."

    Juniors Michelle Allen (5-6, F) and Erin Fisher (5-7, C) will be vying for playing time at the post positions.

    The Mountaineers start the season on Dec. 11 as they travel to Philip Barbour.

    "We will find out how competitive we will be this season before Christmas," said Courtney. "We travel to Philip Barbour, then we are home against Bridgeport and finally go to South Harrison to play. We will definitely know by then."


    11 _ at Philip Barbour; 18 _ Bridgeport; 20 _ at South Harrison; 27 _ at Doddridge County Christmas Tournament. 30 _ at Doddridge County Christmas Tournament.


    3 _ Robert C. Byrd; 6 _ Lincoln; 8 _ Preston; 15 _ at Grafton; 17 _ South Harrison; 20 _ Clay-Battelle; 22 _ at Robert C. Byrd; 24 _ Grafton; 29 _ at Lincoln.


    7 _ at Preston; 12 _ at Bridgeport; 14 _ Philip Barbour; 19 _ at Clay-Battelle; 21 _ Doddridge County.

    Updated December 5, 1996
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    Experience Should Help RCBHS Girls Improve This Year

    Experience could be a factor in winning close games, a key for Robert C. Byrd this season as the Eagles are hoping to improve on their record from a year ago.

    RCB finished last season with a 5-16 mark. The Eagles have all but one player returning from last year's team.

    "We only lost Becca Martin," said head coach Bill Bennett. "I felt there were seven games we could have won last year and that would have given us 12 wins out of 21.

    "The girls have set their goals a little higher this year but we need to get a little better (in practice) because Bridgeport is good and Lincoln is improved."

    The Eagles' returning players have seen plenty of action the past season led by seniors Kyle Veltri (5-5, G) and Heather Waugaman (5-8, G-F).

    "Kyle has played the most games of all the girls," said Bennett. "And it is her time to lead the team by example. Heather is another senior who the younger girls will look up to.

    "We've been stressing to the (returning) kids that we need leadership," said Bennett. "They need to be the leaders on the team."

    The two seniors will handle two of the starting positions while Rebecca Post (5-7, Jr., F-C) will be at the other forward position, Leah Yertzell (5-8, Sr., G) will run the point guard slot and Ashlee Secret (5-6, Jr., G) will also play a guard spot. Kim Richison (5-11, Soph., F-C), Katie Critchfield (5-11, Fr., F-C) and Jennifer Grey (5-4, Sr., G) could also be in the starting lineup. Shawna Elder (5-7, Soph., F) and Alicia Stickel (5-9, Jr., F) will also see some action when needed.

    "Rebecca started most of the games last year," said Bennett. "Yertzell will play point guard and Secret started several games last year also.

    "Richison has come along while Critchfield plays like a demon and gives all kind of effort. Jennifer gives us another shooter and some senior leadership as she has played in spots (last year).

    "But the lineup isn't set ... there may be some changes as the year goes on," said Bennett. "It always depends on who we are playing but, like I tell the girls, it's not who is on the floor for the first four minutes but who is on the floor the final four minutes.

    "The season will depend on our leadership this year and that leadership must help us when we play those close games. Someone needs to step it up for us."

    RCB opens its season on Dec. 11 as it travels to Grafton for a Big 10 matchup.


    11 _ at Grafton; 13 _ East Fairmont; 16 _ Buckhannon-Upshur; 18 _ at Philip Barbour; 20 _ Elkins; 27-28 _ at Lincoln Tournament.


    3 _ at Liberty; 10 _ Preston; 15 _ Bridgeport; 17 _ Grafton; 22 _ Liberty; 24 _ at South Harrison; 27 _ at Elkins; 29 _ at Bridgeport.


    5 _ South Harrison; 7 _ at East Fairmont; 12 _ at Preston; 14 _ Lincoln; 21 _ Philip Barbour.

    Updated December 4, 1996
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    Cougars Expect to Be Competitive

    SHINNSTON _ With two senior leaders and a wealth of young talent, Lincoln girls basketball coach Jeff Osbourn is confident the Cougars will be competitive this season. How competitive depends on just how fast LHS's young players develop.

    "The girls have been working very hard," said the second-year girls coach. "They work well together ... are very unselfish.

    "I think we have two good senior leaders in (Chrissy) Luchuck (5-5, G) and (Stacy) Lambert (5-9, F). And we have plenty of good, young players. Depth isn't a problem. We have 12 that can play and all of them will."

    Luchuck led LHS in scoring last year and is an excellent shooter. She made 63 3-pointers her junior year. S. Lambert was the second leading scorer and top rebounder.

    The Cougars may start two freshman. Tabitha Hutson (5-8, Fr.) will join Luchuck in the backcourt while Teresa Medina (5-7, Fr.) may join S. Lambert at forward.

    Others battling for playing time in the backcourt are Heather McDonald (5-0, Soph.), Amy Luchuck (5-3, Jr.) and Abby Mills (5-5, Fr.).

    Jody Lambert (5-10, Jr.), Sara Cochran (5-4, Fr.) and Michelle McCray (5-5, Jr.) are vying for time at forward.

    Lincoln's one shortcoming is size as Jessica Barron (5-9, Soph.) will be forced to play the post although she's more a forward-type player. J. Lambert or Jamie Wentz (5-5, Soph.) will back up Barron.

    "Our limited size is a concern," said Osbourn. "Jessica is a good player, but she'll have to play against girls much taller than her."

    To offset their limited size, the Cougars will use an up-tempo style.

    "We can't afford to get into half-court games," said Osbourn. "We have to run and push the tempo with full-court pressure defense.

    "We have plenty of team speed and we have the depth to play pressure the whole game. That's our game plan. If we can overcome our inexperience, I think we'll be very competitive."

    Osbourn is amazed by the Cougars' quick development.

    "We have four freshmen, four sophomores, two juniors and two seniors," said Osbourn. "They are all working hard and playing well. The potential is there."


    11 _ at South Harrison; 13 _ Grafton; 18 _ Preston; 21 _ at North Marion; 27-28 _ Holiday Tournament.


    2 _ South Harrison; 6 _ at Liberty; 10 _ Tucker County; 15 _ at Preston; 17 _ at Philip Barbour; 22 _ at Bridgeport; 24 _ Tyler Consolidated; 29 _ Liberty; 31 _ Philip Barbour.


    5 _ Bridgeport; 10 _ at Tyler Consolidated; 12 _ at Grafton; 14 _ at Robert C. Byrd; 19 _ at Tucker County; 22 _ North Marion.

    Updated December 3, 1996
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