PLEASANT VALLEY —
Kaden Whaley caught a pass along the baseline, split two defenders and floated the ball effortlessly into the hoop.
As the Fairmont Senior bench erupted, assistant coach David Price blurted out, “Wooo, she’s killing them.”
Perhaps that’s the best way to describe it. The junior forward pulled down seven boards, snatched four steals, blocked three shots and scored 30 points (more than the entire East Fairmont team combined) to power the Polar Bears to a 66-20 victory over their cross-town rival.
Fairmont Senior girls’ basketball coach Corey Hines called her “a blessing.”
“Sometimes you have those players in your program that practice kind of OK, but when the lights go on, she’s all go,” he said. “Kaden is one of those players.”
No word from Hines on how Emily Stoller and Kelsey Morrone practice, but they, too, came to play. Morrone had eight points and three boards, while Stoller scored seven to go along with 13 assists, many of the no-look variety.
“She can throw them from all over the court,” Whaley has said of her teammate’s passing ability. “I think she can throw them while she’s asleep.”
Whaley scored 12 of her 30 points and picked up several of her steals in the first quarter when the Polar Bears (2-1) came out in a full-court press defense. It helped Fairmont Senior take a 20-8 lead on East Fairmont (2-1) by the end of the first quarter.
“She gets a lot of her points in transition,” East Fairmont coach James Beckman said. “That’s where they’re deadly.”
East Fairmont, led by Brooklynn Weaver and Felicity VanGilder with six points each, battled to keep pace with the Polar Bears, but the Bees never cut the lead to less than double digits after the opening quarter and were held scoreless in the final quarter.
“I’m not happy with the level we’re at,” said Beckman, who has taken over the girls’ program after numerous seasons as an assistant with the boys’ team. “I’m not going to raise a program that is a bottom-tier program. We’ll spend countless hours doing what we’ve got to do to be at the top of the Big 10 and compete at the state level.”
Both teams are back in action Thursday. East Fairmont is home against Preston. Fairmont Senior, meanwhile, is set for another in-county rivalry game with undefeated North Marion coached by Mike Parrish, who Hines called a “Hall of Famer.”
“I mess with him all the time,” Hines said. “He won one on the boys’ side, three on the girls’ side. Not everybody has done that. Sometimes you’ve got to give credit where credit is due.”
On Thursday, the two Marion County teams will decide who deserves the credit. But as for Tuesday, it goes to Whaley.
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.