Sissonville's Brooke Reed (center) is surrounded by Nicholas County's Whitney Robinson (left) and Carrie Huffman during Saturday's game.
SISSONVILLE, W.Va. -- Sissonville's players weren't satisfied after Saturday evening's 66-36 season-opening victory over Nicholas County and that's a good thing.Sophomore guard Madison Jones scored 25 points and transfer Brittany Gould fit in seamlessly with 19 as the Indians zoomed past the Grizzlies. A crowd of about 400 attended the Class AA matchup of preseason state-ranked teams at Sissonville High School, the first game on school's new court.Sophomore guard Karli Pinkerton added 10 points for the Indians, who were fifth in the Associated Press preseason poll.Jones connected on 10 of 21 shots, including 5 of 11 from 3-point range, and chipped in four rebounds and seven steals to power Sissonville's pressure defense, which forced 24 turnovers and didn't allow a Nicholas player to hit double figures.
Gould, who came in from Clay County after earning Class AA third-team all-state honors last season while averaging 21.3 points per game, made 6 of 12 shots and 7 of 9 at the free-throw line with eight boards Saturday. The 5-foot-8 senior guard helped the Indians get off to a hot start, netting eight points in the opening quarter as they took a commanding 17-5 lead."It was a really good feeling,'' said Gould, who guided Clay to the state quarterfinals last season. "I love the girls and we get along good. I think we have a shot to go a long way. We played sloppy tonight. I'm really excited. I think it's going to be a good season.''The Indians, though, got into foul trouble early and several times were in the wrong defense, which led to the Grizzlies gaining some offensive momentum, and finished with 20 turnovers."I think we played pretty good, but we can still play a lot better,'' said Jones. "You get a 30-point win and we know we can play better than that.''
That chorus of dissatisfaction from the Indians is music to coach Rich Skeen's ears after seeing his talented team fall in last season's sectional semifinals."We did some good things and we did some bad things,'' said Skeen of Saturday's effort. "Five weeks of practice and only one scrimmage and that's what it looked like. We can play better. We've got to tie up some loose ends. Everything we talked about is correctable."The No. 9 Grizzlies, who lost in last year's state tournament semis, closed to 19-14 midway through the second quarter, but Jones hit a 3 to spark a 7-0 run and restore a double-digit advantage (26-14) with 2:56 left before halftime. The Indians closed out the second period with a Jones' 3 to go up 30-19 at the break.Sissonville put the game on cruise control in the third quarter with an 11-1 run to finish out the period and seize a 45-23 lead. The Indians' pressure took its toll on the Grizzlies (0-2) as they tallied just four points in the third with eight turnovers."In that third quarter, we just tried to get after it,'' said Jones, who, along with Pinkerton and Brooke Reed, led the Indians to the Class AA state soccer championship in November.Sissonville knocked down 42 percent (23 of 55) of its shots from the field and 8 of 16 on 3s. Nicholas only managed 22.5 percent shooting (11 of 49) and was harassed into 1 of 18 from long range.Sophomore Amanda King paced the Grizzlies with nine points, but eight came in the final period long after the outcome was decided.
"We've very inexperienced right now, but I feel like we're going to come a great way as the season progresses,'' said Nicholas coach Tom McGirl, who has to replace a first-team all-stater. "I knew we were going to start off kind of tough. We want to grow up under fire.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.