CHARLESTON – After winning consecutive Class AAA girls basketball state championships in 2014 and 2015, there were those who thought perhaps Morgantown would take a half-step backward to rebuild.
Even reloading takes a little time, after all.
Yet again, another West Virginia prep hoops season came to an end March 12 with the Mohigans in possession of another state championship trophy. That makes nine titles for the program, and five in the last 12 seasons.
Mohigans coach Jason White said in the preseason that his starting five was the most talented he’d had in his three years at the helm of the program. That is reflected with the release of the Class AAAA All-State Team on Friday as chosen by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
A pair of Morgantown forwards – 5-foot-10 senior Sydney Holloway and 5-11 junior Lydia Adrian – were named to the All-State First Team. Senior center Rachel Laskody was selected to the Second Team, senior point guard Paige Poffenberger to the Third Team and senior shooting guard Shelby Boyle was among 30 players who earned Honorable Mention status.
“It all starts with her work athleticism and work ethic,” White said of Holloway. “She made a decision two years ago that she was going to play and it wasn’t something that she just said. She was going to work at it. Her time in the offseason and with AAU and the work she puts into it have paid off for her and for us.
“She makes some things look a lot easier than they are,” White said. “The way she moves and uses her body to get by people, a lot of people can’t do and it comes naturally to her.”
Adrian will take the mantle for the Mohigans in 2017 as their lone returning starter. White said he believes she can take on that challenge with success.
“She averaged 11 points a game. Sure, there’s girls who average more than that but how many points do they take away from their opponents’ best big,” White asked. “That’s what we do, and Lydia is excellent at it.
“I told her she’s part of a national record. She’s won three state titles in three years. You can’t have more than that,” White said.
Huntington junior Jordyn Dawson was chosen as the team’s captain. The 5-10 forward led the Highlanders to the Class AAA title game, and averaged 20.2 points, 13 rebounds, seven steals and five assists per game.
“Jordyn is an amazing player who can do just about anything,” White said. “I have absolutely no problem with her [being the captain.] She’s strong, big, fast and plays hard.”
Dawson was joined on the First Team by Huntington 5-8 senior guard Dazha Congleton, who averaged 16.0 points and was the Highlanders’ top scoring threat from the perimeter.
Holloway is the lone player who is a repeat First Team selection from 2015. The remainder of the 2016 team includes John Marshall 5-11 senior forward Torrie Derrow, Parkersburg South 6-2 senior center Anna Hayton, George Washington 6-2 junior center Shi Banks and South Charleston 5-3 junior point guard Aaliyah Dunham.
Derrow finished her career as the Monarchs’ all-time leading scorer and rebounder, and averaged 22 points and 14 boards per game in her final season.
Hayton emerged as Parkersburg South’s top offensive option in her senior year, leading the Patriots to the state tournament semifinals after the move by point guard and 2015 Ostrowski Award-winner Taryn McCutcheon to Michigan in early January. Hayton finished the year with a 16.3 points per game average.
Banks led George Washington’s surprise run to the state tournament semifinals with a dominating paint presence that forced many teams to remain on the perimeter while attacking the Patriots’ defense. Banks averaged 16.5 points and 12 rebounds a game, and averaged nearly six blocked shots.
Dunham inherited the role of the state’s flashiest point guard from McCutcheon and did not disappoint. The speedy junior averaged 20.2 points and five assists per game and was also a headache on defense with her ability to cut off passes and turn them into easy layups.
There is no lack of talent or first-team caliber players on the All-State Second Team. There, Mohigans senior center Rachel Laskody is listed along with Second Team Captain Jaden McDaniels, a sophomore point guard at St. Albans.
“Rachel, the thing people don’t realize about her is how strong and athletic she is,” White said. “She was First Team All-State in volleyball and is one of the strongest kids in the school, boy or girl. [She’s] extremely strong. She’s a freak in the weight room. She’s probably in there right now.”
Parkersburg senior guard and Akron recruit Brooke Kurucz is also a Second Team member, as is Parkersburg South senior forward and 1,000-point scorer Katelyn Byrd. Two other 1,000-point scorers – Logan senior center Monica Mitchell and Ripley forward/center Audra Thomas – are on the Second Team list as well. St. Albans junior forward Alli Johnson and Buckhannon-Upshur sophomore point guard Hanna McClung round out that list.
Spring Valley senior guard Karlee Alderman was chosen as Captain of the Third Team. That list also includes Princeton’s Kaleigh Barker, Huntington’s Ericka Budd, South Charleston’s Taliah Cashwell, Spring Valley’s Erica Mathis, Poffenberger and Greenbrier East’s Lexi TIncher, all of whom are seniors. Parkersburg freshman Shay-Lee Kirby rounds out that team.
Lydia Adrian, Morgantown, 5-foot-11, f, jr.
Shi Banks, George Washington, 6-2, c, jr.
Dazha Congleton, Huntington, 5-8, g, sr.
Jordyn Dawson, Huntington, 5-10, c/f, jr. (Captain)
Torie Derrow, John Marshall, 5-11, f, sr.
Aaliyah Dunham, South Charleston, 5-3, g, jr.
Anna Hayton, Parkersburg South, 6-2, c, sr.
Sydney Holloway, Morgantown, 5-10, f, sr.
Katelyn Byrd, Parkersburg South, 5-9, f, sr.
Alli Johnson, St. Albans, 5-10, f, jr.
Brooke Kurucz, Parkersburg, 5-10, g, sr.
Rachel Laskody, Morgantown, 6-0, c, sr.
Hanna McClung, Buckhannon-Upshur, 5-5, g, so.
Jaden McDaniels, St. Albans, 5-5, g, so. (Captain)
Monica Mitchell, Logan, 6-2, c, sr.
Audra Thomas, Ripley, 5-10, f/c, sr.
Karlee Alderman, Spring Valley, 5-9, g, sr. (Captain)
Kaleigh Barker, Princeton, 5-10, f, sr.
Ericka Budd, Huntington, 5-9, c, sr.
Taliah Cashwell, South Charleston, 5-6, g, sr.
Shay-Lee Kirby, Parkersburg, 5-10, g, fr.
Erica Mathis, Spring Valley, 5-11, f, sr.
Paige Poffenberger, Morgantown, 5-7, g, sr.
Lexi Tincher, Greenbrier East, 5-3, g, sr.
Cameron Awkard, Martinsburg; Lauren Bennett, Buckhannon-Upshur; Shelby Boyle, Morgantown; Tam Bumgardner, Wheeling Park; Josie Daugherty, Wheeling Park; Kirsten Doleman, Jefferson; Logan Dudley, Elkins; Bailey Filben, John Marshall; Makenzie Friend, Preston; Abby Gwinn, Shady Spring; Haley Haggerty, Cabell Midland; Ciera Hertelendy, Martinsburg; Mary Lawman, Winfield; Haleigh Legg, St. Albans; Jessica Lowen, George Washington; McKinzie Matheson, Musselman; Zoe Murphy, University; Brooklyn Perky, Lewis County; Alex Petry, Spring Valley; Torri Porterfield, Nitro; Carly Price, Riverside; Lindsey Pritchard, Lincoln County; Mary Rogoszewski, Hurricane; Lexie Sheffield, Huntington; Rhea Smith, South Charleston; Sydnei Taylor, Spring Mills; Maddy Weeks, Hurricane; Katie Wilmer, Greenbrier East; Carlie Wilson, Parkersburg South; Torri Wilson, Parkersburg.