With the entire four-team field ranked in the top 5 in their respective preseason polls, someone had to go winless at last weekend's 18th annual Donnie Fenton Shootout.
Unfortunately for the girls basketball program from Williamstown High School, that tag fell upon the host Yellowjackets after losing twice by a combined four points.
"We're still trying to work through our rotation schemes and once we do we will be a better team," Williamstown coach Fred Sauro said. "But we will not be a better team until we figure some things out and solve some problems.
"They are not huge problems. We're an inch away - not miles."
As Sauro pointed out, something to keep in mind about past history - in 2002 when James Monroe defeated Petersburg for the Class AA state title, the Mavericks finished 0-2 at the Fenton Shootout before completing their championship run with a 23-3 record.
"(The Fenton Shootout) is a tough, tough tournament," Sauro added. "We look at this with a grain of salt. We look at this as how can this help us down the road?
"Against Scott (in the semifinals), we were afraid a little bit. We're not fearful people, but we tried to avoid contact. These are all learning lessons."
After suffering consecutive setbacks to Class AA No. 3 Scott (69-66) and Class A No. 2 Wheeling Central (66-65) at the Fenton Shootout, the schedule doesn't get any easier for the 1-2 Yellowjackets, who travel to Class A No. 3 St. Marys tonight for a Little Kanawha Conference North Division matchup.
In addition to knocking off Wheeling Central 47-39 in the semifinals of the Fenton Shootout, the Irish defeated Scott 62-47 in the championship game without one of its key contributors in Griffin Dempsey. The junior, who is being courted by several Division-I schools such as Virginia Tech, Cincinnati, Marshall and UNC Charlotte, won't return to the starting lineup for at least another week after aggravating an injured shoulder during a practice last week.
Without Griffin's presence, the Irish start four juniors and one freshman.
"We're being real cautious with Griffin," St. Joseph coach Shannon Lewis said. "She has a good career ahead of her, and we don't want to do anything to jeopardize that."
Scott also figures to be a major player in another season when its starting lineup of three juniors and two sophomores become another year older. For the time being, the Skyhawks are making the transition from having graduated current WVU freshman Makenzie White, who led Scott to three straight runner-up finishes at the state tournament.
"Makenzie was always there to bail you out - now we are having trouble," Scott coach John Porter said after his club committed 33 turnovers against Williamstown. "We do have two or three guards that can handle the ball but aren't used to being in control now that the other girl is gone."
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