WILLIAMSTOWN - The 18th annual Donnie Fenton Shootout can make a legitimate case for having the strongest field in a tournament not associated with the postseason and the Charleston Civic Center.
The event at Williamstown High School tips off at 6:30 p.m. on Friday with a rematch of last season's Class A girls state title game when Huntington St. Joseph defeated Wheeling Central, 57-49.
Both programs are off to 1-0 starts in 2012-13. Tabbed as a preseason No. 1 by the West Virginia Coaches Association, Huntington St. Joseph opened with a 72-65 win Saturday against a Columbus Africentric program which added a third Ohio Division III state title to its resume this past March.
"Huntington St. Joseph is outstanding - that's all I can say," Williamstown coach Fred Sauro said. "They are at kind of a different level."
On Tuesday, Wheeling Central defeated Magnolia, 70-54. The Maroon Knights return first-team all-stater Emily Bucon and second-team all-state captain Colleen McCormick.
"We scrimmaged against Wheeling Central - they are going to put a lot of pressure on the ball," said Tyler Consolidated coach Matt Kinnard after his ballclub lost to Williamstown, 81-72, in the Yellowjackets' season-opener on Monday. "Colleen McCormick is a smooth player. She waits for you to make a mistake. She'll set you up and see what you give her, then she is going to score from there.
"As far as Emily Bucon goes, she didn't sign with West Liberty because she is a slacker player. It will be a good battle with those girls this weekend."
In the second semifinal on Friday, Williamstown opposes last year's Class AA state runner-up in the Skyhawks from Scott. Despite the graduation of career 2,000-point scorer and current WVU freshman Mackenzie White, Scott was rated third in the preseason. The Skyhawks passed their first test with Monday's 44-30 win at home against Poca.
Scott is the defending champion of the Fenton Shootout after holding off Wheeling Central 52-50 in last year's title game.
"Scott still has Alison Whitman and another big girl; plus they have good young guards," Sauro said.
Williamstown is seeking to take better care of the ball after committing 39 turnovers against Tyler Consolidated. The Yellowjackets also sent the Silver Knights to the free-throw line 28 times.
"We fouled too much and had way too many turnovers," Sauro said. "We want to make better decisions. That's what we are after more than anything."
Against Tyler Consolidated, Kenzie Smith led Williamstown with 29 points. Contributing a double-double that same night were Yellowjackets' Carley Ellison (12 points, 10 rebounds) and Sami Rea (12 points, 11 rebounds).
"With the tournament this weekend, we have to find out where we are," Sauro added. "It's kind of a barometer for us, and shows us what kinds of things we have to work on."
The two losing teams will play in Saturday's consolation game scheduled for a 1 p.m. start. The championship game immediately follows.