FAIRMONT — Fresh off the conclusion of a state tournament which the conference had a heavy hand in, the Big X released its all-conference first and second teams Monday, as well as its Player of the Year and Coach of the Year award winners.
In a conference that made up both halves of Saturday’s Class-AAA state championship game, and sent four teams to the tournament as a whole, the North Marion Huskies took home the state title, and now can also claim a first and second team all-conference player, as well as the Player of the Year.
North’s Olivia Toland was named Big X Girls Basketball Player of the Year, leading the Huskies to a 25-1 record with averages of 24.3 points, 6.9 rebounds, 4.4 assists and 3.8 steals per game on 45/40/80 shooting splits.
Toland finishes her career with 1,780 points, placing her second on North Marion’s all-time scoring list, just ahead of third-place Mariah Byard (1,654) and behind Jessica Sell (2,010).
Toland captured her first state title this year, and is now a three-time all-conference player.
Toland scored 18 points with nine assists in the Class-AAA championship against Philip Barbour. The senior also snagged a critical steal in the final seconds against Ripley in the semifinals, a defensive play that led to teammate Emma Freels’ game-winning layup at the buzzer.
Toland also recorded 32 points in the sectional finals against Oak Glen, 35 points and eight steals in North’s senior night game against Fairmont Senior, and 31 points in back-to-back games against Liberty and Washington. Toland reached 30 points seven times in all this season.
The conference Player of the Year is not included in each year’s all-conference teams.
Also in the field of eight in Charleston was the East Fairmont Bees, who wrapped up their best season in school history with their first trip to the state tournament since 2007.
Coaching the Bees to a 23-3 record, East Fairmont head coach James Beckman received the Big X Coach of the Year honors for the 2022-23 season.
Setting the school record for total wins (23) and highest win streak (17), the Bees’ punched their ticket to states following a 61-51 win over Lincoln in the regional championship on March 1.
Though East fell to eventual state runner-ups Philip Barbour in the quarterfinals 62-45, the coaches of the conference still recognized the Bees and Beckman for their successes.
“We had a remarkable season,” Beckman said following the quarterfinals game. “23 wins, a lot of records set for 17 wins in a row, most points scored in history, so those are things we want to look back on. We set the bar high for next year, which is what we want to do. This group of girls is going to be hungry this offseason.”
The lead guard for the East Fairmont Bees, junior Kenly Rogers, made all-conference first team, with averages of 18.1 points, 3.5 assists and 2.8 steals per game— all team-highs.
North Marion’s Emma Freels made first-team all-conference as well, averaging 14.4 points, 4.4 assists and 2.3 steals per game. Freels’ biggest shot of the season came just as North was brought to the brink— the juniors’ game-winning layup against Ripley sealed the state semifinals 45-43 and brought her team to the championship game, where Freels scored 18 points.
Fairmont Senior’s Sadaya Jones made all-conference first team after averaging 20.3 points per game for the Polar Bears. A first time all-conference selection as a sophomore, Jones led her team in scoring and rebounding and powered Fairmont Senior on both sides of the court.
Players named to the All-Big X first team included Kenly Rogers (East Fairmont), Emma Freels (North Marion), Sadaya Jones (Fairmont Sr.), Ashlyn Riley (Lincoln), Gabby Reep (Bridgeport), Avery Childers (RCB), Emma Pinkney (Lewis County) Martina Howe (RCB), Braylyn Sparks (Philip Barbour), Kendal Currence (Buckhannon-Upshur), Kenna Keener (Grafton) and Kenna Maxwell (Buckhannon-Upshur).
On the second team, North Marion’s Addie Elliott earned a spot after averaging 8.7 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game in her senior season. Elliott also made the Class-AAA all-tournament team in Charleston. East Fairmont’s Kailee Haymond placed on all-conference second team after making a splash as a freshman, averaging 10.1 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.3 steals per game, shooting 38% on 3-pointers while making 42 longballs.
Players named to the All-Big X second team included Addie Elliott (North Marion), Kailee Haymond (East Fairmont), Gracelin Corley (Elkins), Bryn Hunt (Lewis County), Megan Tucker (Lincoln), Hadley Horne (Grafton), Carleigh Curotz (RCB), Alyssa Abel (Buckhannon-Upshur), Celia Ricottilli (Elkins), Emma Elliott (Liberty), Arrington Sparks (Philip Barbour), and Averi Carpenter (Philip Barbour).
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