UC provides next test for GSC

PARKERSBURG – The road to the West Virginia Conference women’s tournament championship and a guaranteed regional berth begins at 6:30 p.m. today inside the Charleston Civic Center for Glenville State.

The Pioneers of WVIAC coach of the year Bunky Harkleroad are riding a 20-game win streak and will put their 26-2 record on the line when they square off against No. 9 seed Charleston (15-12) in the quarterfinals.

“I’m trying to get (assistant coach Kim) Stephens to figure out a scouting report on Charleston here,” quipped Harkleroad Tuesday afternoon. “They are a very good basketball team and have two of the best shooters in the league.

“They are more athletic than people realize. They are good and they play very well. They are just a tough athletic team. We’ve got to bring our ‘A’ game.”

The Pioneers, led by first team all-WVIAC selections in Ginny Mills (18.6 ppg) and Kenyona Simmons (15.5 ppg), swept UC during the regular season. GSC took the first game at home, 87-84, and then won 80-66 on Feb. 18 in Charleston.

Glenville State is trying to reach the WVIAC championship game for a third straight season, having won it two years ago before falling to W.Va. Wesleyan in the finals last year.

“We are approaching it as we have to win the tournament to go. That’s our mindset,” Harkleroad said of hoping to continue playing after this weekend. “Everything else is out of our control and that’s the only thing we can control.

“We’ll focus and give all of our attention to Charleston and then Wednesday night we’ll have to prepare for a game on Friday and see where this road takes us.”

The Golden Eagles are led by Jessie Cowden, who averages nearly 15 points a game and has knocked down 71 3s. Former Marietta Tiger standout LeAnne Ross, a sophomore, is putting up nearly 11 points a game and has canned 54 triples while Nichole Perry also averages better than 10 points a game and has connected on 41 treys.

Of course, GSC leads the country in not only made 3-pointers per game, making an average of 14.1 an outing, but also has the top offense with a scoring average of 96.6.

Both Ashleigh Fossett (13.0 ppg) and Kenyell Goodson (10.8) are averaging in double figures for the Pioneers, who have a pair of solid point guards in Jessica Parsons and Jelena Elez. They are ranked ninth and 10th, respectively, in all of Division II in assist-to-turnover ration.

Although GSC is the top 3-point shooting team in terms of makes per game, Charleston wasn’t far behind as the Golden Eagles’ average of 9.3 made trifectas per contest ranked third nationally.

“This year’s team has been good and they all as individuals have the same big goals and that’s to win our league and go forward in the NCAA,” Harkleroad added.

“They just live on a day to day basis to get better. We challenge them as a staff to get a little better each day and great things will happen and they’ve been good about that.”