South, PHS girls meet again tonight

So far, all three basketball games – two boys and one girls – between Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South this season have resulted in lopsided wins for the Patriots.

Tonight at 7:30 at Memorial Fieldhouse is the fourth – and final – PHS-South regular-season cage confrontation, this one matching the Patriots and Big Red girls with 6-5 and 8-6 records, respectively.

First time out Dec. 18, the South girls, ranked 12th in this week’s AP state Class AAA poll, drubbed their PHS counterparts, 70-41.

That was the first win of the season for the Patriots, who started 0-3, but then won five straight against a schedule that head coach Scott Stephens said MaxPreps has as ”the toughest in the state,” behind only Huntington St. Joe.

Nevertheless, Stephens thinks the Big Reds ”may have momentum on their side” coming into tonight’s fray on their home floor.

PHS opened with two wins, but dropped six of the next eight games before going on their current four-game winning streak, as ”our youngsters and our veterans started to come together and mesh as a team,” said Big Reds head coach Kenny DeMoss.

That plus the fact that DeMoss tonight will have some players at his disposal he didn’t have back on Dec. 18. Senior 6-4 center Kennedy Walker sat out with a concussion from the game before, senior guard Megan Morrison played ”at 40 percent,” said DeMoss and junior guard Kayleigh Cox got her nose broken in the first quarter.” All three are back and playing, although Cox has been wearing a protective guard on her face.

So Stephens knows ”this game will be completely different with Walker in there to give them more of an inside threat with having her and (6-0 Imani) Ward both, and Morrison back at full strength. And it’s at their place; they always play better over there.”

Stephens hopes to counter the Big Reds’ dual inside presence with the Patriots’ ”perimeter (shooting), pressure and quickness.”

South is being led this season by freshman point guard Taryn McCutcheon, daughter of former Big Red cager Jason McCutcheon – a teammate of DeMoss at PHS – along with sophomore Keya Bartlett.

”I’ve known Taryn since she was a little kid, so it’s been no surprise to me to see her step right in and play as she has as just a freshman,” said DeMoss.

”But we can’t let Taryn beat us. We have to cut her off, not let her go end-to-end without putting some pressure on her. We can’t just let her have her way and roam free rein all over the place.”

Although not by any means discounting the importance of any PHS-South athletic event, both coaches know maybe the key ingredient built into tonight’s matchup is the effect it will have on the sectional tournament seedings.

In fact, Stephens thinks there will ”probably be another game between us in the sectional.” He sees Wheeling Park as the top seed, with ”us and PHS in the middle,” and Brooke at No. 4.

”The real significance of it (the seedings) is to probably see who’s going to get to play at home.”

Prior to the 5:45 p.m. JV and then varsity games tonight, there will be four Hamilton vs. Jackson middle school basketball games throughout the day at Memorial Fieldhouse, starting at 11 a.m. with the 6th grade boys teams. The rest of the schedule is: 12:30 p.m., 7th/8th grade boys; 2 p.m., 6th grade girls; 3:30 p.m., 7th-8th grade girls.

Contact Steve Hemmelgarn at shemmelgarn@newsandsentinel.com