FAIRMONT — In each of the past three seasons, the Class AA girls’ basketball state champion has hailed from Marion County, and if preseason projections hold any sway, the county may be in line for a fourth straight Class AA title this season.
In both the girls’ basketball preseason Coaches Association and Associated Press polls, Marion County owns the top two spots in Class AA, with Fairmont Senior ranking No. 1 and North Marion at No. 2 in each respective poll.
Fairmont Senior led the Coaches’ Association Class AA poll with 40 points and the AP poll with 93 points, including nabbing seven of the 10 first-place votes. North Marion tallied 32 points and 77 points in the two polls, respectively, to barely edge Lincoln for the No. 2 spot in each of the polls.
In the Coaches’ Association poll, Lincoln (31 points), Wayne (25 points) and Wyoming East (21 points) rounded out the Top 5 in Class AA. In the AP poll, it was Lincoln (75 points), Wyoming East (60 points) and Nitro (47 points) that made up the remainder of the Top 5, with Lincoln receiving a pair of first-place votes and Wyoming East receiving one.
Fairmont Senior enters the 2019-20 season as the defending Class AA state champions after head coach Corey Hines’ Lady Polar Bears rolled to a 28-3 overall record last season en route to a 51-39 title game victory over Wyoming East. It was the program’s second Class AA state championship in three seasons, with Fairmont Senior also winning it all over Bluefield in 2016-2017.
The Polar Bears, who enter the season with four Class AA state title game appearances in the past five years, will be tasked with replacing four of their five starters from last season’s championship squad. All-state third team sophomore guard and reigning Class AA championship game MVP Marley Washenitz is the team’s lone returnee.
North Marion, meanwhile, comes into this season after going 19-5 overall last year and losing in the Region I co-final at Frankfort. The Lady Huskies, who will be seeking their fifth state championship under coach Mike Parrish, will also be replacing four starters from last year’s team. Two-time second team all-state senior guard Taylor Buonamici is the team’s lone returning starter.
Fairmont Senior begins the 2019-20 season on Friday when it hosts Wheeling Central at 8 p.m. in the annual Frank Hines Memorial Classic at the 201st Fairmont Senior High School Field House. North Marion, meanwhile, will tip off the 2019-20 campaign on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. when it travels to Weir.
Elsewhere in the state, Parkersburg finished atop both polls in Class AAA, while Saint Joseph Central swept the top spot in Class A. Parkersburg received all 10 first-place votes in Class AAA, while St. Joseph took eight of the 10 votes in Class A, with Wheeling Cebntral getting a pair of first-place votes.