PARKERSBURG -The legacy of Larry Edwards will be remembered as the girls basketball teams from Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South meet in an "Orange Out" at 7:30 this evening at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.
The orange is a way of creating an awareness for ALS - the same disease that claimed the life of Edwards last year. Before the varsity game, Edwards' wife, Carolyn, will receive a plaque that eventually will be placed on the wall in the lobby of the ROAC.
"We're just trying to raise a little money to find a cure," South coach Scott Stephens said.
Photos by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg’s Brooke Kurucz puts up a shot between two Hurricane defenders. Kurucz and her Big Red teammates will meet top-ranked Parkersburg South tonight.
In addition to coaching at Parkersburg High, Edwards spent 37 years as either a boys basketball coach or varsity girls assistant with the Patriots.
"His memory will be in our hearts forever," Stephens said. "We're playing this season with him on our minds and trying to do right by him."
At every South game this season, one chair on the Patriots' sideline will be left empty in honor of Edwards. Tonight, an orange shirt will be draped on that same chair.
"Larry was a details guy - he did all the little things so all I had to do was coach and plan our practices," Stephens said.
Where the game is concerned, neither Stephens nor PHS coach Kenny DeMoss gave their team a day off from practice on New Year's Day. The girls are given a reprieve on Christmas Day and Sundays.
"We practice bright and early on New Year's Day," DeMoss said.
The Big Reds enter the contest with a 2-5 record. All five losses have occurred to schools either ranked in the top 10 for Class AAA or those receiving votes.
PHS continues to struggle through growing pains. Last Saturday against Wheeling Park, DeMoss started five sophomores.
"I'm a little more tougher on these girls - when you are younger, you don't necessarily understand what varsity minutes are all about," DeMoss said. "I make practices tougher so games are easier."
Three Big Red sophomores average in double figures in scoring. Brooke Kurucz, who dropped in 36 points against Hurricane, leads the team in scoring at 14 points per game. Kameron Snyder and Haley Ackerman are averaging 11 and 10 points per contest, respectively.
"First and foremost, we have to handle South's pressure," DeMoss said. "At times, we have done a real good job and other times we have not. We're such a young team, we make young mistakes."
South relies heavily on the floor play of sophomore point guard Taryn McCutcheon, who has verbally committed to play for Michigan State. She is joined in the starting lineup by Keya Bartlett and Carlie Wilson. In a 52-point blowout of Brooke last Friday. Wilson produced a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds.
"PHS is perimeter-oriented," Stephens said. "They play up-tempo. They like to play fast and press. They play hard-nosed basketball and they like to shoot the 3-pointer.
"We have to be ready for the press and take care of the basketball."
The top-ranked Patriots are 5-0 and have not had a game decided by less than double-digits.
"I like the way we have been playing on defense," Stephens said. "Our defensive presence has improved and our rebounding has improved. I like us better on the defensive end than where we were at this point last year."