St. Marys trying to crack into Class A elite
When you think Class A boys high school basketball in West Virginia, you think Wheeling Central, Charleston Catholic and even defending state champion Madonna. This year, St. Marys hopes to add its name to state basketball lore.
The No. 1 Blue Devils (23-1) take on eighth-seeded Pocahontas County in the Class A quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center.
"I've had a chance to watch Pocahontas County and they remind me a lot of what we saw against Williamstown during the regular season," said St. Marys coach Mark Barnhart. "They play a lot around the 3-point arc and have several kids that can shoot the 3 and shoot it with confidence. I know we're going to have our hands full."
St. Marys is anchored by seniors Derek Renner, K.D. Arnett, Garrett Wichterman and Justin Nicholas. Arnett leads St. Marys in scoring with 17.4 points per game, while Renner (17.1) and Wichterman (10.0) average double-digits. The team amasses 75.8 points per game.
"K.D. has a great post game and perimeter game," added Barnhart. "We keep having to remind him that he has a great pull-up jumper as well. As far as Derek goes, our offense starts with him handling the ball and he does a great job shooting the ball."
St. Marys earned its spot in the state tournament with a 70-57 win over Bishop Donahue in the Region 1 final last week after missing the big dance the past three seasons.
On the flip side, Pocahontas County entered the tournament with a 14-11 record and garnered the final seed of the event.
"We have to prove something to ourselves," said Pocahontas County coach Robert Sheets. "We shoot the ball really well from the perimeter. If we can break down [St. Marys] defense and if we can put some points on the board, I think we have a great chance to advance."
The Warriors are paced by seniors Dillon Kelly, who is averaging 18.1 points, Jed Sheets (14.9) and Steven Halterman (10.6).
"Dillon is an excellent 3-ball shooter," added Sheets. "He's shooting 40 percent from behind the arc. When you get up on him, he drives to the rim and makes it very hard to defend him."
Pocahontas County made its way into the tournament by besting Fayetteville 44-35 in the Region 3 finals.
The winner will play in the semifinals at 7:15 p.m. Friday against the winner of today's game between No. 4 Midland Trail and No. 5 Tucker County.