PARKERSBURG — Class A’s eight representatives at the 2016-17 girls basketball state tournament were well represented on the all-state first team as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Seven of the eight honorees were selected from one of the deepest Class A fields ever.
For the third straight year, the Little Kanawha Conference laid claim to three slots after Gilmer County’s Riley Fitzwater and Kylie Shuff, along with Williamstown’s Ashley Morris were selected to the team.
Morris, who led the sixth-seeded Williamstown Yellowjackets to the state title game, was honored as captain after her postseason performances.
Fred Sauro’s 5-foot-1 point guard scored a career-high 41 points in a regional co-final win against Tolsia, poured in 19 markers in her state tournament debut in an upset of third-seed Tucker County, then tallied 34 markers in a come-from-behind state semifinal win over second-seeded Wheeling Central.
“It is an unbelievable honor,” said Sauro. “She was one of the best players and her performance was among the best in Single A throughout the season and she really deserves it. She is so humble and is a fun loving kid. She never quits and is so competitive and always gets better and improves. She has the heart of a lion. It is just a tremendous honor.
“We as a team could not have achieved a lot of what we were able to this season without Ashley Morris and I will never forget her.”
Morris, a senior, averaged 17.7 points per game, 5.4 assists, and 3.8 steals.
She leaves the school as the all-time steals and assists leader, records she broke this postseason. She also stands at third in three-point shooting.
Her captaincy marks the second year in a row the LKC laid claim to the honors. Gilmer’s Fitzwater had the honor bestowed on her last season.
Gilmer senior Shuff changed positions from shooting guard to point guard after the Titans graduated McKenzie Huff and Amy Chapman’s team didn’t miss a beat. Twenty-sixteen’s Class A state champions compiled a 22-3 record and earned the fourth-seed in the state tournament.
Shuff racked up 14 points per contest, along with five assists.
Meanwhile her teammate, Fitzwater, was named 2016-17 Little Kanawha Conference Player of the Year after she averaged a double-double of 14 points per game with 10 rebounds. Gilmer’s six-foot-four senior center also averaged four blocks a contest.
“On behalf of all of Gilmer County, we are extremely proud of Riley and Kylie for accomplishing this feat,” said Amy Chapman, Gilmer County girls head basketball coach. “They have worked hard and are very deserving of this honor. Both helped shape this program to where it is now and I will never forget them.”
Summers County senior’s Brittney and Whittney Justice make their lone appearance on the squad after the Bobcats dropped down to Class A after reclassification took place before the season. Brittney averaged 22.5 points per game, 8.1 boards, 4.1 steals, and 3.3 dishes, while Whittney tallied 20.3 markers, 4.8 dimes, 4.6 swipes, and 3.1 boards per game.
The siblings helped head coach Sarah Blevins’ team to a 23-2 regular season record and the No. 1 spot in the state tournament field.
Huntington St. Joe sophomore Dena Jarrells also made her debut appearance on the team after she put up 16 points per game to go along with 3.6 assists, 2.2 steals, and 2.2 rebounds.
The Tolsia High School-transfer helped lead the Irish back to the top of Class A with a 17-point effort in a 64-46 win over Williamstown in the state title game.
Wheeling Central’s Taylor Duplaga led her team to a one-loss regular season and the second seed at the Charleston Civic Center. For the year, the Maroon Knight junior threw up 14.8 points per contest, 4.9 rebounds, 3 steals, and 2.4 assists.
Union’s Colleena Burdock came up one game short from a trip to Charleston after her team fell to Gilmer in a regional co-final. Burdock led the Tigers to a 21-4 mark and averaged 37 points in the process.
Second team captaincy was awarded to Tucker County’s Sydney Nestor. For the season, she chipped in 17.3 ppg, 7.1 rpg, 4 steals, and 3.1 assists and paced the Mountain Lions an appearance at the Civic Center.
Other second team selections include Charleston Catholic’s Vida Imani, St. Marys’ Jordan Fox, Huntington St. Joe’s Paige Shy, Fayetteville’s Kendall Melay, Ritchie County’s Cassie Tallman, Magnolia’s Kelsi Chapman, and Parkersburg Catholic’s Alexis Saunders.