Jenna Eckleberry

Fairmont State senior Jenna Eckleberry (right) drives to the basket against Clarion during the Lady Falcons’ win on Wednesday. Eckleberry will not have to go up against her sister, Jade, who played at Wheeling Jesuit last season, when FSU travels to play the Lady Cardinals tonight.

There’s little doubt that the mindset of Fairmont State senior point guard Jenna Eckleberry will be a bit different tonight when she leads the Lady Falcons into Wheeling for a 5:30 p.m. showdown with Wheeling Jesuit University at the McDonough Center.

The contest will be the first of a doubleheader. The men’s teams will play the nightcap at 7:30 p.m.

Last season Eckleberry, on two occasions, had to go head-to-head with her older sister Jade Eckleberry, who was the point guard for the Lady Cardinals. FSU and Wheeling had a pair of epic battles last year, but Jade and the Lady Cardinals emerged victorious in both.

Now Jade has graduated from WJU and Jenna is happy to have the distraction of having to face her sister on the court behind her.

“It was a fun situation to go head-to-head with her, but on the other hand I’m kind of glad that I won’t be facing her this year because no matter what anyone says it was a bit of a distraction for both of us,” said Eckleberry, who is second in the league in assists with an average of 7.6 per outing.

“Now that distraction for me isn’t there so I’m looking forward to Monday night.”

Fairmont and Wheeling enter the game tied for second in the West Virginia Conference with 2-0 league marks. The Lady Falcons are 9-2 overall, while

Wheeling brings a 7-4 record into the contest. The Lady Cardinals got off to an 0-3 start this season, but have rebounded and won seven of their last eight. The lone loss for Wheeling during its recent run was a 64-44 setback against Lewis (Ill.) on Dec. 18.

“Wheeling always plays hard no matter what,” said Eckleberry. “We lost to them twice last year and we know this is a very big game for both of us. We need to come out Monday night playing with the same intensity that we had Saturday against West Virginia State (an 87-53 FSU win). We control what we do on the court and if we come out and get after them right from the start and keep our intensity level high for 40 minutes I think we’ll be fine.”

WJU is led by 5-8 senior guard Katie Repicky who averages 15.8 points per game and 6-1 junior forward Megan O’Donnell, who averages 10.8.

The men’s contest also figures to be very entertaining. Wheeling’s men are off to an 8-2 start overall and have won four in a row, including an impressive 97-72 thrashing of Salem International Saturday evening on the road in Salem.

Ricky Yahn led WJU in that contest with 45 points. That’s the most points scored by a West Virginia Conference player this season. The 6-4 senior guard is averaging 20.2 points per outing to lead Wheeling. He also has a team-high 27 3-pointers.

The Cardinals, who are 1-0 in the WVC and tied for third, also get 15.2 points per outing from 6-3 senior guard/forward Colin Howard and 14.7 points per game from 6-4 senior forward Rusty Wooten.

Wheeling won both meetings with Fairmont State last year.

The Falcons enter the contest fresh from a 73-70 upset of West Virginia State Saturday night. FSU is 7-4 overall and 1-1 and tied for seventh in the conference. The Falcons have won five of their last seven games.

“Wheeling is a lot like us,” said FSU senior forward John Dillingham, who averages 13.0 points per game and is tied for third in the WVC for the most made 3-pointers with 30. “They’re going to run their offense, they’re going to execute and they’re going to play tough defense. That’s what they always do. I really think Monday night is going to come down to who wants it more.

“I think we can beat them, but we haven’t beaten them since I’ve been here and that’s one of our goals. We want to get a win on the road and a win like this one would help us tremendously in the conference.”

FSU has not won a true road game this season. The Falcons are 6-1 at the Joe Retton Arena, 0-2 in road games and 1-1 on neutral courts.

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