Sissonville just wasn't ready to take the next step last year.By all indications, though, this season the Indians are champing at the bit to see how much they've grown and will get that chance at 7 tonight when they host Chapmanville in the Class AA Region 4 co-final. Herbert Hoover visits Scott at 7 in the other Region 4 co-final.The regional co-final winners advance to next week's state tournament, which will take place March 12-15 at the Charleston Civic Center. (See Page 2B for statewide regional pairings.)Sissonville's three freshmen starters failed last year to get past the sectional semifinals, but have learned from that hard lesson. The Indians (20-3) finished fifth in the final Associated Press poll and earned a share of the Cardinal Conference regular-season championship then marched through their sectional to earn a home game tonight."It's called maturity,'' said Sissonville coach Rich Skeen. " You get an extra year under your belt in the offeseason and it helps. It's just another year of playing. Just the game experience has helped them immensely.''Sophomore guards Madison Jones and Karli Pinkerton and forward Brooke Reed have also gotten a taste of high-stakes postseason play as they helped Sissonville captured the state championship in girls soccer. The addition of senior guard Brittany Gould, who transferred from Clay County after playing in the state tournament last year, has solidified the lineup.Gould has given the Indians a huge lift, averaging a conference-best 20.5 points per game while Jones (18.6) and Pinkerton (14.7) have helped carry the scoring load. Reed and junior Ellie McClung take care of the dirty work underneath with defense and rebounding."They're just workers,'' Skeen said. "It's just been a coach's dream how hard they've worked.''Sissonville and Chapmanville (14-9) split during the regular season, each team winning on their home floor. The Tigers only won by two points (48-46) early in the season while the Indians coasted (62-38) a few weeks ago.
"Chapmanville's a very good team,'' said Skeen. "Our conference is pretty good and we feel like that's got us ready. We're just going to have to play smart and play like we have the majority of the year. By no means is this an easy game.''Senior post Kristen Desrocher (15.8) is the only player averaging double figures for the Tigers, but there are other capable players. In Chapmanville's win, Desrocher scored 11 points, but freshman forward Abigail Marcum led the way with 16."You've got to take care of their other players, too,'' Skeen said. "A couple stepped up and had a great game against us.''nn
Herbert Hoover is hoping to make some history against No. 7 Scott.The Huskies (18-6), who have tied the school record for wins, are looking to become the first team to reach the state tournament since the 1988 team that set the mark for victories.
The Skyhawks (17-5), though, have beaten the Huskies three times this season by eight, 16 and 10 points, respectively, and seem to be hitting their stride. Scott breezed to its section title by an average margin of victory of 27 1/2 points while the Huskies lost to Sissonville for the third time this season in the section title tilt.Scott sports a balanced offense with junior swingman Landyn McKinney (11.6), senior post Ali Jo Whitman (11.3), who signed with Division I North Carolina-Greensboro, and freshman guard Maddy Weeks (11.2) leading the way. Hoover senior post Hannah King's 15.1 points is fourth best in the Cardinal and juniors Bailey Aab and Bethany Romine pitch in 10.3 apiece.In other regional co-finals tonight, top-ranked Fairmont Senior hosts Ritchie County and No. 2 North Marion visits Webster County in Region 1; No. 9 Keyser hosts Lincoln and Petersburg plays at Grafton in Region 2; and No. 8 PikeView visits No. 3 Westside and Bluefield hosts No. 4 Summers County in Region 3.Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com