ALBRIGHT: Is anything going to matter in Class A girls’ basketball?
Defending Class A state champion Huntington St. Joe’s basketball machine powerfully churns out Ws, once again.
The loss of two NCAA Divison I basketball players to graduation? Yeah it hurt, but proved little in the way of a speed bump.
Shannon Lewis’ plug in of transfer Grace Huston alongside senior Bailee Adkins recently helped complete a 13-0 early season run and earned them the unanimous No. 1 ranking in Class A, so far. The two Division I players melded with the unmatched depth of the Irish and recently extended the state’s longest winning streak to 22 games, too.
The streak was extended, which includes a win over Class AAA state champion Parkersburg High, in a very simple way.
The level and quality of competition on their slate easily outpaces everyone else in the classification.
Year in and year out.
You sink or you swim … Well, if you play for the Irish there really isn’t a choice. Lewis and company worry about the big picture. They play for March and possible blow outs by 30 points suffered once or twice somewhere along the way aid the growing process. State-tournament caliber teams fill up the majority of the Irish’s schedule. The names, schools, and talent are impressive. All of them have a history of deep tournament runs.
Boyd County, Ky. Cherokee High, Ga. North Alleghany, Pa. Riverdale, Tenn.
The nationally-ranked 17th Irish beat them all.
And all of this success led one sportswriter to ask a very depressing question to fans of the sport.
Trust me, I didn’t want to ask it.
I wanted to believe this wasn’t the case, but the thought crept forward further and further to the front of my mind.
As the season extended inevitably toward March, games and highlights are watched, box scores are read, teams and line ups are studied, and the writing on the wall grew clearer with each glance.
One familiar feeling bubbled to the surface similiar to watching Class AAA wrestling, softball, football.
All fans have felt this one before as if something is set in stone, so I ask:
Is anything that happens the rest of the year in Class A going to matter?
Allow me to clarify.
Is anything going to affect the biggest picture in Class A?
Don’t get me wrong Parkersburg Catholic fans. Your Crusaderettes stand out in Class A with hard-working players. Coach Marty Vierheller’s team plays defense like few in the state.
But, they suffer from the not-enough-competition syndrome.
Why worry about the LKC title when you have three low Division I-high Division II players in the group?
I understand foresight is required to make this decision. But, Coach V had it the moment Madeline Huffman walked in the door. The decision to push his team to the limit at the time was best for everyone.
Warren (Ohio), Boyd County, Greenbrier East, PHS, and Summers County certainly would have provided said tests. What the girls learned from a 10-15 point loss, or win, stood far more valuable than 60-point blowouts of Wirt County.
Worrying about anything but a state title played into the Irish’s last year and will again this season.
Coach V argued they did get the shots they wanted, but they didn’t fall in the title game last season. And that St. Joe is a team that can make anyone look bad on any given day. Readers hopefully know why by now.
To Catholic’s credit, Wheeling Central appeared on the slate the last two years. There’s also no fault on the Crusaderettes of injuries suffered by key Maroon Knight’s Eden Gainer and Hannah White, which forced them to miss games. Catholic also won both games.
But, Tucker County, Central, and a Parkersburg South team still figuring things out aren’t enough.
Not by a long shot.
Catholic’s LKC contract requires them to play a certain amount of LKC games, this is absurd. But, you would think the only punishment for failure to comply would be an inability to play in the LKC Night of Champions.
Anything more sounds like overkill. When special teams come around coaches deserve to test the boundaries and set special plans in motion.
Conference championships fade, but banners last forever.
Don’t think this is Catholic being singled out. This conversation happens if it was Gilmer County, Williamstown, St. Marys, Braxton County, Wirt County, Tyler County and so on.
In fact, Amy Chapman’s Titans already played Class AA Bridgeport, Class AA No. 5 Wayne and a Class AA Braxton County team receiving votes in the Associated Press poll.
Catholic and Gilmer face off in a possible prelude to the LKC title game on Jan. 20, too.
This will be a worthy test for Coach V and company. One they sorely require before St. Joe in the title game.
Summers County and Pocahontas County aren’t on the same level as Catholic.
Wheeling Central with Gainer certainly is, but she had surgery and there is no timetable for her return as of right now.
Any injuries, as always, throw a wrench into the works.
But is any of it going to matter come March?
Contact Joe Albright at email@example.com.