Yellowjackets’ Bethany Arnold is a glass cleaner

Hanging on one of the walls inside Williamstown High School’s gymnasium is a banner with a single name printed on the material. Though hundreds of girls have passed through the Yellowjackets’ girls basketball program, Molly Kiger remains the only player to collect 1,000 career rebounds.

This fact isn’t hard to understand.

Williamstown head coach Fred Sauro uses a rotation system of five-player substitution patterns (so he always has returning experienced varsity players), which means any individual hoping to join their name with Kiger’s must take advantage of all their court time.

Two years ago before a game against Parkersburg Catholic, Sauro pointed out to me a 6-foot-1 freshman who he told me to keep an eye during her time in a Yellowjackets’ uniform.

While he didn’t say at the time Bethany Arnold was going to be a 1,000-rebound player, the state championship-winning leader saw something other people may not have seen yet.

Her body-type lent itself to her being a formidble force down on the block. Not to mention, his current team was in need of a strong rebounder inside with all the guards already on the squad.

Arnold herself also had the goal of joining her throwing buddy from the track and field team.

She has perfected her craft against some of the best rebounders to come through the Little Kanawha Conference in recent years. Gilmer County’s Riley Fitzwater (reigning LKC Player of the Year), St. Marys’ Whitney Jemison, Ravenswood’s Ali Westenhaver, and Ritchie County’s Stephanie Kirk all gave her plenty of experience and exposure to quality glass cleaners.

Arnold also went up against teammate Brooke Stewart in practice everyday. Anyone who knows Stewart knows she was a real enforcer for Sauro’s squad during her four years at the school.

Bumping bodies with Stewart helped her get ready for what she has experienced on the hardwood in live action.

“Being the big girl means as soon as you step on the court people are going to think you are the bully,” said Arnold. “You just focus on yourself and the team and ignore the rest. It is tough sometimes, but you have to play through it.”

She has handled the attention well and never waivered from her duty on the squad.

Fast forward to this season and everyone in the LKC has certainly experienced the Yellowjacket junior put everything together and shine.

Arnold owns a 14.6 boards-per-game average and has pulled down 20 or more caroms three times this season. Her dominance on the glass has been a driving factor in Williamstown’s surprising 18-4 record and trip to the Class A Region IV, Section 1 final against Parkersburg Catholic tonight.

She also is scoring 12.3 points per game and could be on her way to a Class A First-Team All-State selection.

“It is amazing how many boards she gets her hands on,” said Sauro.

“I came into this year with the same attitude as last year,” said Arnold on her success. “My part was rebounding and helping the team – We are very guard oriented. If I had to step up and be a scorer then I would do that too.”

A quote not lost on Catholic head coach Marty Vierheller, whose team has given up 35 boards over two games to the Yellowjacket so far this season.

“Starting with the obvious, she is such a dominant rebounder,” said Vierheller. “She can take over a game without you even realizing it is happening. You are like ‘Holy cow! How did she end up with 20 points and 20 rebounds, because she did,’ we are certainly very cognizant of what she can do.”

Tonight’s game is one of two assured contests left for the Yellowjackets in the 2017-18 campaign. Arnold currently sits at 675 rebounds and if she gets to 700 by the end of the year, would need to average just under 15 boards per game next season to equal Kiger’s mark.

Like the missed shots she is accustomed to collecting in game, Arnold intends to snare this feat as well.

“I want to be up there with Molly,” she said. “That is what I have been working towards these past three years.”

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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