Parkersburg Catholic’s Leslie Huffman named league’s player of the year
PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg Catholic head coach Marty Vierheller and his sophomore guard Leslie Huffman never once stopped to review the season in progress for the Crusaderette player.
“If you look back you could lose yourself, you have to keep going and work hard and I knew I couldn’t do that (look back) at any time,” said Huffman.
Had she done so as the number of games played grew, she would have seen her statistics started to point toward a potentially special season.
From her 15-point opening night effort against Ritchie County to her game-high 27 points against Gilmer County in the Little Kanwha Conference championship game, the message became clearer each contest: No LKC team could slow down someone who had become a complete player.
“She takes care of the ball and just doesn’t make mistakes,” said Vierheller of his player who averaged a team-high 19.4 points per game to go along five steals and 2.6 assists per game. “And when you mix it in with her basketball IQ the complete package is all there.”
Everything coming together for the athletic second-year player was enough to unseat sister Madeline as the Little Kanawha Conference player of the year.
This is even though Leslie’s vote would have been cast for her sister. “She was one of the happiest people for me … but I would have chosen her, she definitely deserves all the credit she gets,” said Huffman.
As for her victory.
“I knew there were a lot of good competitors out there and obviously I strive to be the best. It is awesome to have my name put on the award knowing what a big deal it is for the conference,” said Huffman.
Perhaps the biggest hurdle for her came in the offseason. She played volleyball and had a limited number of practices. Because of this, her vast improvements were something Coach V didn’t see coming.
However, her summer with the AAU basketball Ohio Valley Red Dragons had adequately prepared her for the task at hand.
“It is definitely great to see how my work paid off. If you work hard and really set your mind to something you will be rewarded in the end,” said Huffman.
Leslie and Madeline are the first pair of siblings to win the award in back-to-back seasons. This feat also joined them with Teresa and Sarah Tokodi as the only group of siblings to claim the honor.
In what was a close vote, Braxton County’s Jocelyn Abraham finished second after a stellar final campaign. Her leadership and Mid-Ohio Valley-leading 22.4 points per game, coupled with 10 rebounds per contest, helped guide the Eagles to third place in the LKC.
She took the first spot on the league’s top team as voted on by the coaches.
Other LKC Night of Champions participants joined Abraham on the first squad. Catholic’s Madeline Huffman and Aaliyah Brunny, Gilmer County’s Trinity Bancroft, along with Williamstown’s Jayla Wiseman all fueled various parts of their groups trip to Glenville.
In addition to her state-tournament single-game record 15 assists, Huffman made her case for a fourth-straight honor with nightly averages of 14 points, 4.6 steals, and an MOV league-leading seven assists. Brunny (16.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 4.8 spg and 1.9 bpg) was one of her many beneficiaries.
Facing the Crusaderettes in the league title game was Bancroft (16.7 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 2.2 spg, 44% shooting for the field) and her Titans. Gilmer County’s sophmore guard fit in as an important piece of the puzzle for head coach Amy Chapman. Her development on defense and constantly improving game made an already difficult team to prepare for even harder.
The same can be said for Wiseman. Fred Sauro’s Yellowjackets utilized her skills in the paint to great effect on the way to the consolation game in the Night of Champions. Accurate shooting (54%) along with her ability to rebound proved useful for a Williamstown team fond of getting up a lot of shots every contest.
Not about to be overlooked were two dynamic newcomers to the conference scene. Webster County’s Sydney Baird and Ritchie County’s Rebekah Rupert settling into leading scorer roles drew attention to their cases. The numbers were hard to miss. Rupert finished the season as third in the school history with freshman scoring after pouring in 14.9 points per game. For good measure, she added the first-year rebounding record with her MOV-leading 11.8 rebounds per game. Baird may not have been asked to rebound, but similar to Rupert she effiecently led her Highlanders in scoring. The Webster guard connected on 50% of her shots on the way to 568 points (23.7 ppg) over the Highlanders’ 24-game season.
These two weren’t the only honorees introducing their new games to the rest of the conference. Ravenswood’s Annie Hunt bursting back on the scene forced opposing coaches into running special defenses to contain the Red Devil. But she remained undeterred by the nightly double teams and defensive switches, and threw up 18.3 points, 3.4 rebouds, 3.6 assists and 3.3 steals per game.
Calhoun County’s Josie Montgomery also couldn’t stay out of the spotlight. Kevin Boak’s Red Devils rebounded from a rough start in part due to the play of his sophmore guard. Montgomery commanded her team through her ability to excel in multiple areas of the floor with a team-leading 17.8 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 1.8 apg and 4.7 spg.
St. Marys’ Kylie Wright (11.7 ppg, 5.7 rpg) and Doddridge County’s Jonna Ferrell (12.7 ppg, 2.8 apg and 3.5 spg) rounded out the list. Both led more defensive minded teams through a challenging league season.
Overall, the two pods received almost equal representation with six players from the West and five players from the East forming the top squad.
At least three of those spots open up for next season due to the graduation of Abraham, Madeline Huffman and Ferrell.
Brunny, Huffman, Abraham, and Bancroft made the team as repeat visitors.
2019-20 All-Little Kanawha Conference Girls Basketball Team
Player of the Year: Leslie Huffman, Parkersburg Catholic
Coach of the Year: Marty Vierheller, Parkersburg Catholic
Jocelyn Abraham, Braxton County
Madeline Huffman, Parkersburg Catholic
Aaliyah Brunny, Parkersburg Catholic
Trinity Bancroft, Gilmer County
Sydney Baird, Webster County
Jayla Wiseman, Williamstown
Josie Montgomery, Calhoun County
Rebekah Rupert, Ritchie County
Jonna Ferrell, Doddridge County
Annie Hunt, Ravenswood
Kylie Wright, St. Marys
Ashley Davis, Ritchie County
Peyton Smith, Braxton County
Emma Wyer, Wirt County
Taylor McHenry, Gilmer County
Nicole Reynolds, Williamstown
Faith Mason, Roane County
Savannah Cunningham, Calhoun County
Carleigh Phillips, Tyler Consolidated
Lacey Liston, Braxton County
Bianca Howell, Doddridge County
Zoe Davis, St. Marys
Carrah Ferguson, Gilmer County
Jenna Boice, PC; Kayli Sauro, Wtown; Kaylin Parsons, Calhoun; Lakyn Joy, Wtown; Andrea Kirk, Ritchie; Josey Moore, SM; Madison Dennis, Calhoun; Abby McDonough, DC; Soffi Bee, Ritchie; Maggie Skidmore, Braxton; Laurel McCombs, DC; Grace Wellings, Gilmer; Skyler Varney, Rwood; Libby Hall, Rwood; Lara Fetty, SM; Regan Smith, TC; Brooklyn Burford, Clay County; Lexi Wright, Roane County; Allie Miller, TC; Lauren Templeton, TC; Natalie Snyder, Webster; Hannah Cutlip, Webster; Madison Hamrick, Webster; Kylie Stephens, Wirt; Kayleigh Murray, Wirt; Shelby Simonton, Wirt