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High School Girls Basketball (copy)

George Washington’s Kalissa Lacy (left) and Nitro’s Baylee Goins are leading contenders for girls basketball state Player of the Year, an honor won by Lacy last year.

Who is best?

Is it George Washington High School’s Kalissa Lacy?

After winning the West Virginia girls Player of the Year Award in 2020, is the high-scoring 5-foot-10 senior still the best in the Mountain State?

Or is it Nitro High School’s multi-talented 5-9 senior guard Baylee Goins, who was the runner-up to Lacy in the Player of the Year competition last season?

Those are very good questions, so let’s try to find some answers.

Lacy possesses a net-popping jump shot. If a defender gives her any more than a jab step of space, she can be absolutely devastating from behind the 3-point line.

Just ask Woodrow Wilson.

The Flying Eagles gave Lacy space in their Class AAAA quarterfinal game Thursday at the Charleston Coliseum and didn’t survive that regret. Lacy scored George Washington’s first 12 points and 18 of the Patriots’ first 20 points in an eventual 67-49 rout of Beckley.

Lacy, who averages 23.1 points, finished with 37 points on 14-of-22 shooting, including a sizzling 7 for 11 from 3-point range. She also contributed six assists and six steals in 30 minutes of playing time.

Impressive, huh?

Morehead State University obviously thinks so. That’s why the Eagles signed Lacy.

Then there’s Goins. Simply put, she is a phenom. There aren’t girls basketball players in West Virginia like her. Imagine a girl throwing a lookaway pass on a fast break for two points.

When is the last time anyone saw that in this state? When Alexis Hornbuckle did it? Or, perhaps, Renee Montgomery?

It is so uncommon, it makes Goins even more special.

In Nitro’s 63-28 victory against overmatched Midland Trail Wednesday in Class AAA, she flirted with a quadruple-double. Honest. As rare as triple-doubles are, imagine reaching double figures in four different basketball statistical categories.

Goins was in the ballpark.

She scored 15 points (including 4 of 6 from 3-point range), dealt 11 assists, grabbed seven rebounds and made five steals.

Now here’s the intriguing part.

That sort of across-the-board performance is, well, average for Goins. She checks in with 20.3 points, 7.9 assists and 5.1 rebounds per game.

Even when Goins had a rare off-game in Nitro’s 79-63 victory over North Marion in the semifinals Friday afternoon, advancing the Wildcats to the Class AAA championship game at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, she still managed to score 20 points, deal nine assists and make five steals.

For most players, that’s a career best.

For Goins, it’s an off day.

“She is just an outstanding player,” said Nitro coach Pat Jones. “I mean, it’s just hats off to her. Like I’ve told her, ‘You’ve changed the Nitro program.’ People can say I’ve done it as a coach and my assistants and my staff have done it, but at the end of the day Baylee Goins is an unbelievable player.

“When I was being interviewed a minute ago, I said that you haven’t seen the type of things she does since the Megan Withrows, the Alexis Hornbuckles, the Renee Montgomerys. I think she has really brought attention back to girls basketball. Her and other girls in the state have really brought attention back to girls basketball.”

It comes as no surprise that Jones believes Goins should be the 2021 state Player of the Year.

“I’ve told her for four years now,” said Jones, “‘if you’re not the state Player of the Year, I don’t know who is.’ All-around, sees the floor, rebounds, passes, shoots — she does everything a coach can ask of a player.”

So who should it be? The incumbent or the challenger?

Lacy already has taken home the hardware once.

Let’s give this one to Goins.