Pioneer basketball season opens this weekend

PARKERSBURG – College basketball season is underway and Mountain East Conference member Glenville State is no exception.

The GSC women open play at 7 p.m. today when Virginia Union invades Gilmer County.

Head coach Charles Marshall will make his official debut as the former Pioneer assistant was hired to replace his ex-boss Bunky Harkleroad, who took a Division I women’s job at Sacramento State. Last year,

Harkleroad guided the Pioneers to a 27-4 mark.

Glenville State’s women will be playing without the services of returning leading Ginny Mills (19 ppg). Mills is recovering from ACL surgery.

During the preseason, the Pioneer women lost exhibition games at Duke (122-77) and at Western Kentucky (100-67). Against the Hilltoppers, newcomer Tasia Bistow had a team-high 13 points, but GSC missed 26 of 30 from 3-point land.

Coach Marshall also has three other returning starters back aside from Mills in Kenyona Simmons (15 ppg), Ashleigh Fossett (12.6 ppg) and Kenyell Goodson (10.9 ppg). Versus the Blue Devils, former Braxton County all-stater Tiffani Huffman had team-highs of 19 points and four assists. Goodson (14) and Simmons (10) also reached double figures in scoring while Brauna Nix added six points and as many boards.

The Glenville State College women were picked to finish as the MEC runner-up in the preseason MEC poll.

GSC men’s head coach Stephen Dye’s squad will have to wait until Saturday for its first game. That’s when the G-men head for a 7 p.m. tip to former West Virginia Conference rival Alderson-Broaddus.

Last winter was an interesting one for the Pioneers. Although the final record stood at 13-16, GSC was in nearly every game it played. Of its 16 setbacks, eight of those defeats came by single digits. On top of that, the Pioneers only lost three games by 13 or more points and had a season-high four-game winning streak.

A trio of starters return for coach Dye and assistants Bill Lilly and Justin Caldwell in gunner Kevin Gray, double-double machine Lamar Mallory and guard JJ Vazquez. In about 15 minutes of action per game, Vazquez averaged better than five points and shot nearly 50 percent from the floor while making nine starts and playing in all 29 games.

Mallory, who like Gray started all 29 games for the G-men a year ago, finished the season averaging 14.8 points and a team-high 9.2 rebounds an outing. Despite the loss of leading scorer Jamel Morris (19.4 ppg), Gray will look to improve upon his 12.3 ppg average.

GSC, which was picked to finish eighth in the MEC, watched Gray drain 95 triples last year and shoot nearly 39 percent from deep.