PARKERSBURG -Getting out of the gates on a positive note has been somewhat of a problem for the Parkersburg High School girls basketball team.
In their first meeting with Parkersburg South, the Big Reds committed 14 turnovers while falling behind 17-4. The Patriots eventually won 79-42, but that was just a sample of what PHS has experienced this season. In a 50-34 loss at St. Albans, the Big Reds scored one point in the first eight minutes.
Playing on its home floor tonight at Memorial Fieldhouse, it's imperative PHS puts its best foot forward from the opening tip against a South squad that carries a 10-0 record and is ranked No. 1 in the state.
"Slow starts have been our Achilles heel," PHS coach Kenny DeMoss said. "We need to have a good start so that we can have some confidence."
In order to have any success defensively, PHS must do a better job locating South's Keya Bartlett. When the two schools met earlier this month, the junior knocked down six 3-pointers for a game-high 23 points. She equalled that output in the Patriots' most-recent win - a 92-43 victory at Wheeling Park.
At the same time, the presence of South point guard Taryn McCutcheon can cause headaches for opposing teams. In the first meeting against PHS, the sophomore finished with 13 points, eight assists, three steals and three rebounds.
Parkersburg South 10-0
Parkersburg High 3-9
When: 7:30 p.m. today
Where: Memorial Fieldhouse
"South is very good - I haven't seen any other team better than them," DeMoss said. "Their starting five is tough. Plus they have two good players coming off the bench."
Five days ago, PHS showed signs of breaking through after defeating Winfield 65-56 and snapping a six-game losing streak. Haley Ackerman led the 3-9 Big Reds in scoring with 13 points, while Kam Snyder and Brooke Kurucz each pitched in 11 points.
Defensively, PHS created 31 turnovers.
"We're doing OK and their last game against Winfield they used the old Glenville style of five people for a couple minutes and five new players for a couple minutes," said PSHS head coach Scott Stephens.
"It will be interesting to see how that works. They didn't do that against us the first time."
PHS has lofty ambitions for the second half of the season. One goal is to play in the Night of Champions for the Mountain State Athletic Conference. Another is producing a winning record over its final 11 games.
"I like our chances," DeMoss said. "The kids are persistent and they are getting better. This year, I've seen improvement across the board."