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A fresh start for Poca

Lawrence Pierce
The Poca girls basketball team finished its workouts this week during the three-week June summer practice period. The Dots were disbanded last year after three games, but Kenny Sayre was recently named head coach and is optimistic about fielding a squad this upcoming season.
Poca has put the band back together.Kenny Sayre, a former Dots basketball standout and All-West Virginia Conference performer at Bluefield State, was recently hired as the girls head coach.Poca was forced to disband the girls team after three games last season when injuries hit the squad hard, leaving just five or six players for games and practices.Sayre said it's been tough trying to round up girls during the summer break, but he said he averaged seven to eight players during June's three-week practice period, which ended Friday."The first night I had 12 sign up, which is really good,'' said Sayre, who has been a volunteer assistant for the Poca boys team the past five seasons. "You just try to make it fun and keep them motivated.''Sayre said his squad and Poca Middle School held joint sessions one week so the high school team could have full-squad workouts."It's hard during the summer when you don't have 10 and you're just teaching drills,'' he said. "The girls are coming in enthusiastic and they want to learn. It's hard with seven or eight girls because you can't do full-court stuff and you have to drill, drill, drill, but they're showing up every day.''Sayre, whose daughter Kendal was a freshman last season, said it was hard to watch the team break up."It was very, very sad,'' he said. "I felt bad for the players and the coaches. It was just a bad situation. I can't imagine not playing basketball in high school."The girls are wanting so much to get back into it. I think next year when they get talking to their friends we'll have more show up. It's a new year. We've just got to stay positive.''
Sayre admitted that missing the majority of the season last year puts the Dots at a disadvantage. Poca seniors Paula Ord and Madi McGrew along with juniors Hannah Bailey and Harley Hutchins provide experience, but the rest of the team will be sophomores and freshmen."It hurt them not playing last year,'' said Sayre. "The girls are just going to have to step up. When you have that many sophomores, several of them are going to have to fill in. The girls have really been jelling together. I think Paula and Madi are going to be good leaders.''Sayre said he wants this year's team to feel good about getting back on the court even thought it faces an uphill battle."There's a lot on those girls,'' he said. "They have to show basketball is here to stay. They have to be strong. You're basically going to be role models for the girls in eighth grade.''Sayre said he was at first hesitant to apply for the head coaching position, but after talking with Poca boys coach Allen Osborne and Kanawha Valley coaching icon Tex Williams, he decided to give it a try.
"They gave me some pretty good advice,'' Sayre said. "It's the first time I've coached girls. It's been a blast.''Sayre said Poca Middle School had 28 girls at tryouts last season, which leaves him optimistic for the future."I know the talent's coming and the girls really want to play,'' he said. "I think it's looking good for years to come. Hopefully in a couple years we'll have 28 girls come out for basketball here at Poca.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at or 304-348-4811. 
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