It may be a new year, but the retribution tour of Allison Dunbar and Herbert Hoover’s girls basketball team is showing no signs of slowing down.
Dunbar stuffed the stat sheet with 28 points, 14 rebounds, eight assists and four steals on Monday as the Huskies (7-3) downed visiting Sissonville for the second time, this one by a score of 68-40 at Elkview Middle School.
Hoover ran out to a 19-4 lead early in the second quarter and never slowed down. Caroline Woody (10 points, six rebounds), Taylor Ray (nine points), Courtney Dunbar (six points, seven rebounds) and Reagan Geary (nine points) supported Dunbar’s output with contributions of their own.
Both games between the Kanawha County and Cardinal Conference rivals have illustrated the changing and cyclical nature of prep sports. A year ago, en route to a state-tournament appearance, a senior-laden Sissonville squad picked up 29 and 22-point victories over the Huskies. This year, Hoover swept the season series, winning the first game by 26 and Monday’s by 28.
And after three years of being on the bad end of such decisions, Allison Dunbar, the team’s only senior, admitted that reversing some results from seasons past is a special feeling.
“It feels amazing,” Allison Dunbar said. “It’s my fourth year and to beat Sissonville? It’s amazing.”
“It feels good,” Hoover coach John Vencill added. “Sissonville is a big thing here and for us to beat them twice in a season, that’s a boost of confidence that I can’t give to them.
“That’s something they’ve gone out there and earned and you can see it when they play.”
Hoover, which won a combined 18 games over the past three years, also registered a win over Logan earlier and is 4-2 in the Cardinal Conference after Monday’s proceedings. But unlike the rest of its league brethren, the Huskies will travel north to Class AA Region 2 when the postseason arrives. And while beating up on rivals is one thing, the Huskies have bigger things in mind, in particular, improving and preparing for a Section 2 field when the time comes.
Vencill saw one of the team’s main areas of concern improve significantly on Monday as the undersized Huskies attacked the boards, outrebounding a bigger Indians squad 32-28.
“The biggest thing we’ve been working on is positioning,” Vencill explains. “Trying to get them to understand that the further you move them away — because they are more than likely going to be taller than us — you get to be the first to the ball.”
Another good sign was the scoring help from supporting roles, something that hasn’t always been there, especially in losses. For Allison Dunbar, a Concord commit and a dynamic scorer, it has proven to be a challenge at times when it comes to deciding when to shoot and when to get teammates involved. The improved play of the rest of the Huskies this season has certainly heightened her trust when dishing the ball.
“Since the season has begun we’ve hit more shots, they’ve been shooting well,” Allison Dunbar said. “It’s more a reaction, really. If you see them [open] you see them.”
While Dunbar is reaping the rewards of three years of labor, it has been a struggle for the Indians (3-6) which lost the Kanawha Valley player of the year in Laila Arthur and fellow senior starters Lindsay Ullman and Marleigh Bays to graduation. Last year’s sixth man, Zoey McCutcheon, was also a last-minute scratch for the season after being injured at the end of soccer season.
That left first-year head coach Dave Sisson with six freshmen and two sophomores on the roster with only senior Alexis Bailey and junior Sydney Farmer bringing any significant playing experience back. Bailey scored 15 on Monday with Farmer adding six and both entered the game averaging double figures (Farmer at 12.1 points per game and Bailey at 11.9), but outside of that, there has been a lot of trial by fire and for a proud program that owns the Kanawha Valley’s last state title (2015), growing pains of this nature aren’t the norm.
“When a freshman’s going against a senior — Dunbar here, Winfield, Nitro — but we’re trying to stay positive and make them do the right thing,” Sisson said. “Other than Farmer and Bailey, nobody’s played before. It’s tough, but we’ll be alright. It’s a process and a slow one, but we knew coming into this year it was going to be tough.”
Farmer added 12 rebounds for Sissonville. The Huskies hit 10 3-pointers on 30 attempts and turned the ball over just six times while forcing 17 Sissonville miscues.