The Times West Virginian

March 12, 2014

FSHS, NMHS ready for redemption in Charleston

By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian

FAIRMONT — Come Saturday, a new Class AA girls’ state basketball champion will be crowned.

Both Fairmont Senior and North Marion are hoping to take the throne. But first, they must get past the first round which begins today.

North Marion (20-3) will kick the tournament off as the Huskies take on Keyser at 9:30 a.m. at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.

Last season the Lady Huskies made a first-round exit, leaving a flame burning in the eyes of two North Marion players. Anna Marie Moscufo and Noca Singleton, both seniors, have tasted a state championship. But last season, they tasted defeat.

“We talked to them about it as a team,” North coach Mike Parrish said of the differences in the two experiences. “Anna and Noca were there as freshmen and they know the championship experience, but they also know what it’s like to go out in the first round.”

Parrish said that Moscufo and Singleton, along with sophomore guard Megan Haller, have passed along experience to the rest of the Lady Huskies, especially freshmen guards Presley Tuttle and Christa Tobin.

“The freshmen class hasn’t been down there yet,” Parrish said. “But they played well in the regional game, so we’re hoping that transfers over to the state tournament.”

Tuttle posted 16 points, six assists and five rebounds in the regional game, while Tobin added 12 points and eight rebounds in the win which advanced their team to the state tournament.

Looking at the opponent, Keyser, Parrish thinks his girls match up well.

“I just watched film on them,” Parrish said Monday night. “They have a big girl inside who can score and a point guard who pushes it down the floor.”

The Golden Tornado, which finished 23-2, are coming off a regional championship victory over Lincoln, a team which North Marion beat handily, 83-67, in the two teams’ only game this season.

“Some games they scored high and some they scored low,” Parrish said of Keyser. “In that Fairmont Senior game they just kind of walked it up the court. We're going to try to prevent that and try to get things going our way.”

For Fairmont Senior, a bitter taste remains after falling short in the semifinals last season.

The only thing on the Lady Polar Bears’ minds this season has been a return to Charleston, citing “unfinished business” as the reason for the trip rather than a basketball game. But the two go hand in hand, Fairmont Senior coach Corey Hines said.

“Last year, we let off-the-court things affect us after the games. Everybody wants to be the sideline coach. Everyone was excited,” he explained. “But we have to get rid of those outside influences and just play as a team.

“It doesn’t matter who scores. What you’ve got to do is go down there and win one game one game at time. It doesnt matter who gets the accolades; it’s what team wins at the end.”

Fairmont Senior (20-1) will kick things off with Grafton at 5:30 p.m. today at the Civic Center Coliseum.

Grafton (17-4) was able to claw back into the last contest between these two, escaping with a single-digit loss after the Lady Polar Bears missed 20 foul shots in the game.

“They played us tough at our place,” said HInes. “What we want to do this time is eliminate our terrible free-throw shooting. We don’t want to leave plays on the floor.

“We had players in foul trouble and end up with a six-point victory. We don’t want to leave that on the floor this time.”

To win, Fairmont Senior will have to do so without junior standout Kaden Whaley, who tore her ACL in the regional championship game. Hines said, though, he’s fortunate to have more than one star on his team and that everyone will need to pitch in.

“You can’t replace Kaden. She’s a special player,” Hines said. “But some younger players will have to step in and take advantage of the opportunity.”

Two of those players could, and likely will be, freshmen Abby Stoller and Erica Bowles.

Should Fairmont Senior and North Marion make it through their sides of the bracket, the two teams could set up an All-Marion County championship, something Hines said would be pretty special.

“That would be great for our county,” he said. “As a whole, I know Mike does a great job, and his team will be ready to play. We'll be rooting for them when they're playing as long as it’s not us.”

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.