KEYSER, W.Va. - Undefeated and sporting a record of 6-0, the No. 2 ranked North Marion Huskies had a plan to enter 2018 with an unblemished record. To accomplish their goal North Marion had 1 tiny pithole to avoid, an easy road-trip on Friday afternoon against a shorthanded Keyser squad which was blown out by Frankfort two weeks ago. That same week North Marion played against the Falcons and the Lady Huskies handled their business holding off a frisky Falcon squad, leaving Short Gap with a narrow 80-76 victory.

Besides a temporary hiccup in the 2nd quarter against Frankfort, North Marion has annihilated top ranked teams from across the mountain state. All relevant polls respect North Marion's accomplishments on the court as the Coaches poll ranked them #3, the RHS poll ranked them #2, and the MaxPreps ranking put North Marion as the No.1 overall team in the entire state (including Class AAA teams). In short the Husky resume was downright impressive having ripped apart top-notch teams including AAA #1 Buckhannon-Upshur 66-51, AAA #3 Wheeling Park 57-42, and AA #5 Winfield 62-53.

North Marion has been an offensive juggernaut all-season averaging over 70 points per game while defensively holding opponents to under 47 points on average. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Keyser has yet to post 70 points against any opponent entering the matchup with a 4-3 record. Last week the Golden Tornado almost gave away a game against Northern Garrett as they had to fight off a late 4th quarter Husky surge to earn a narrow 47-44 victory.

If the wise guys in Las Vegas were projecting an outcome for this matchup prior to tipoff, they would anticipate an easy double digit victory for North Marion. The first quarter tipped off and it was apparent the golden girls of Keyser were not intimidated by North Marion's rankings, resume, or record. Junior power forward Aubrey Smith, is nasty on the mound in softball and a sharp shooter hunting buck. Aubrey transferred her killer instincts to the hardwood with physical and intense play in the paint. Smith went toe-to-toe with any Husky player willing to invade her territory and earned several trips to the charity stripe and attempting 6 foul shots in the 1st quarter.

After 8 minutes of play, the Lady Tornado showed they had the grit to hang with the Huskies but still trailed 17-15. The second quarter resembled what most experts predicted, a dominating defense by North Marion, holding Keyser to only 6 points while tossing in 15 points of their own. The Golden Tornado went on a long scoring draught just before halftime and the Husky lead increased to double digits, and eliminating Keyser's hopes of a historic upset. The Golden Tornado trailed North Marion 32-21at intermission.

For Keyser to climb back into the game, Coach Josh Blowe had to make some adjustments. Sporadically throughout the first half Keyser showed they had the personnel to compete, but how could he motivate his team to stay mentally focused on the game-plan? Would he use the Bobby Knight approach and fire off curse words like cannons? Would he would gather his team together for a silent prayer?

Coach Blowe stayed true to his individual character and told his players, "I know you guys can play with this team, and you proved it at times during the first half." Then Coach Blowe pointed out, "We need to focus on two things: first we need to finish around the rim, and second we need to make our free throws. If you guys do those 2 things we will be right there at the end with a chance to win."

The Keyser ladies walked on the court to start the 2nd half with full confidence of their coaching staff and the loyal black & gold supporters in the stands. The Keyser comeback was launched in the 3rd quarter by PG Lexi Turner as she began to charge hard towards the basket. Lexi anticipated hard fouls near the rim and twice her body smacked loudly off the hardwood. A quiet and spirited competitor, Lexi showcased her tough physical and mental strength bouncing right up which energized and fueled her teammates to match her competitive psyche. Coach Blowe pointed out, "Lexi did a great job of getting the angle and gaining a step on her man forcing a foul or dropping in a layup. Lexi really stepped it up for us in the 2nd half." Once Lexi lit the match her teammates followed by adding kerosene to the Keyser fire. The Lady Tornado played the rest of the 2nd half at a level not seen this season. Keyser clawed after loose rebounds, dove after 50/50 balls, and stuck their nose so close to Husky players, they could identify the flavor of gum being chewed.

The visiting team from Farmington appeared to be in a state of shock by the relentless play from Keyser. The North Marion coaching staff mimicked Frosty the Snowman standing frozen on the sidelines watching the Golden Tornado storm continue to build momentum. Coach Blowe said,"We wanted to make them play in space, and force them to run as much as possible. We did a great job of executing that strategy tonight."

Failure to adjust defensive strategy eventually carried over to the Husky offense as North Marion looked completely out of sync. Keyser held North Marion to single digits in the third quarter while posting 17 points of their own to trim the Husky lead down to two points, with a score of 40-38 to start the 4th quarter. Although the student section was absent the electricity inside the gymnasium was high voltage.

The 4th quarter played out like just like Coach Blowe envisioned. The Lady Tornado played intelligent basketball on both ends of the court and they hit critical foul shots to push them past North Marion. The Keyser player that stood out in crunch-time was the 5'10 junior Kearstin Lucas. The versatility and length of Lucas is a matchup nightmare for any opponent as she has the skills to swish a three from downtown Piedmont, and the ability to post up down low, and the skill to drive to the basket in traffic. Kearstin's clutch performance under pressure was key for Keyser dropping in 11 points in the 4th quarter alone to humble the Lady Huskies.

As Coach Blowe told his team at halftime, free throws will be a factor in the outcome of this game. If free throw shooting is the game Makenna Staggers is the name. Makenna nailed 6 free throws in the 2nd half and as clock became the enemy of North Marion, Keyser put the ball in Makenna's hands knowing it was her time to shine at the line. Makenna hit back to back free throws just before time expired to complete one of the greatest comebacks in Keyser basketball history winning 61-55.

Coach Blowe talked about Keyser's intense defense, "We did a great job of defending all game, but the key to victory was our ability to rebound on defense and not giving them a second shot. Overall it was a great team win because we did an excellent job of working hard on both ends of the court at the same time. Hopefully this victory will take us to bigger and better things in the new year."

Kearstin Lucas finished with a team high 20 points scoring 16 points in the 2nd half. Aubrey Smith was a physical force down low hitting 5 field goals and 4 free throws for a total of 14 points. Lexi Turner made smart decisions with the basketball in her hands and finished the game with 12 points. Makenna Staggers continues to excel from the charity stripe tossing in 6 free shots for a game total of 11 points. Madi Anderson did not put the biscuit in the basket, but her contributions on the court should be recognized as her court vision helped Keyser move the basketball effectively around the point while dishing out smart passes and diving after loose balls. Sophomore Auctayvia Robinette stepped in and contributed as a major role player dropping in 4 points in the first half for Keyser. North Marion was led by Taylor Buonamici with 16 points, Brielle Osborne had 11 points, Hannah Shriver tossed in 8 points, and Leah Parrish added 6 points.

The North Marion Huskies (6-1) return home to lick their wounds and prepare for a clash vs Elkins on January 4th. Next up for Keyser (5-3) is a home game against Grafton on January 3rd. Tipoff is scheduled for 7:30PM.

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To the fans, players, referees, trainers and coaches who support Mineral County athletics, its time to put on your cone shaped paper hats and start counting backwards. Before you close the door on 2017, spend a moment to reflect upon the incredible athletic performances you witnessed over the past 12 months. Looking forward to inscribing another chapter of Mineral County Sports in 2018.

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WEST VIRGINIA GIRLS BASKETBALL POWER RATINGS

Basketball Friday Night in West Virginia presents the first edition of the BasketballNight.com WV Girls Power Ratings, computed and released December 29, 2017. These ratings were computed using all available scoring data at basketballnight.com as of 10:30PM December 29. Please contact us with any missing scores so we can get it fixed for the next edition of the BasketballNight.com WV Girls Power Ratings. The Power Ratings are calculated using scores between WVSSAC-member teams reported to basketballnight.com. Teams with less than two games versus WVSSAC-member teams are excluded from the ratings.

AAA Team RK W/L OW% SOS PtDiff Index BUCKHANNON-UPSHUR

1

7-1

0.642

0.569

16.63

0.884

GREENBRIER E

2

6-0

0.463

0.509

26.83

0.869

PARKERSBURG

3

5-2

0.560

0.586

15.80

0.826

GW

4

5-2

0.664

0.571

7.83

0.784

CABELL MIDLAND

5

7-2

0.311

0.561

32.83

0.781

MARTINSBURG

6

4-4

0.886

0.637

-2.40

0.762

SPRING VALLEY

7

5-3

0.438

0.579

11.25

0.740

MORGANTOWN

8

5-2

0.443

0.540

12.43

0.716

WHEELING PARK

9

5-3

0.549

0.581

0.25

0.703

HAMPSHIRE

10

6-1

0.075

0.706

10.86

0.688

PARK SOUTH

11

6-2

0.367

0.532

18.33

0.681

UNIVERSITY

12

4-5

0.765

0.675

-9.50

0.681

ST ALBANS

13

3-3

0.653

0.617

-10.50

0.676

WOODROW

14

3-2

0.507

0.497

9.60

0.670

BROOKE

15

5-1

0.321

0.488

14.25

0.667

PRESTON

16

4-4

0.520

0.510

2.80

0.660

HURRICANE

17

4-2

0.368

0.468

18.33

0.656

MUSSELMAN

18

2-5

0.857

0.857

-12.50

0.648

RIPLEY

19

5-3

0.428

0.479

11.75

0.648

PRINCETON

20

5-1

0.281

0.507

2.75

0.623

SOUTH CHAS

21

2-6

0.659

0.600

-4.38

0.591

SPRING MILLS

22

1-7

0.789

0.789

-15.80

0.584

HUNTINGTON

23

1-3

0.589

0.582

-12.33

0.565

RIVERSIDE

24

3-7

0.568

0.579

-18.10

0.524

JOHN MARSHALL

25

1-6

0.639

0.606

-15.29

0.509

WASHINGTON

26

1-2

0.300

0.501

-24.50

0.447

CAPITAL

27

0-7

0.675

0.675

-36.71

0.430

AA Team RK W/L OW% SOS PtDiff Index WYOMING EAST

1

6-0

0.574

0.519

40.75

0.960

FAIRMONT SR

2

8-1

0.482

0.646

15.14

0.897

NORTH MARION

3

6-1

0.612

0.596

19.29

0.884

WINFIELD

4

5-1

0.605

0.483

16.50

0.818

SISSONVILLE

5

6-1

0.442

0.572

23.14

0.818

WAYNE

6

8-1

0.437

0.534

19.25

0.796

LINCOLN COUNTY

7

3-2

0.625

0.572

5.00

0.794

LINCOLN

8

2-2

0.721

0.550

4.00

0.787

LOGAN

9

5-1

0.424

0.540

18.17

0.773

BRIDGEPORT

10

6-2

0.501

0.534

17.00

0.765

FRANKFORT

11

5-4

0.616

0.525

20.20

0.757

LEWIS COUNTY

12

5-3

0.635

0.545

6.00

0.740

NICHOLAS COUNTY

13

5-2

0.466

0.494

15.29

0.716

PHILIP BARBOUR

14

6-2

0.434

0.493

13.00

0.710

NITRO

15

6-2

0.425

0.479

14.50

0.705

CLAY COUNTY

16

4-2

0.461

0.470

9.50

0.668

CHAPMANVILLE

17

2-3

0.664

0.576

3.60

0.667

KEYSER

18

5-3

0.441

0.570

2.20

0.651

WESTSIDE

19

5-3

0.465

0.475

2.50

0.634

RIVER VIEW

20

5-3

0.453

0.448

8.86

0.615

E FAIRMONT

21

3-3

0.487

0.491

6.17

0.610

BLUEFIELD

22

5-3

0.548

0.495

-2.83

0.609

POCA

23

4-4

0.481

0.479

7.50

0.606

BRAXTON CO

24

3-4

0.523

0.486

2.14

0.581

ELKINS

25

5-4

0.429

0.505

-5.00

0.581

MINGO CENTRAL

26

3-4

0.466

0.456

-7.50

0.546

GRAFTON

27

2-3

0.520

0.511

-9.80

0.543

ROANE CO

28

3-4

0.424

0.424

7.14

0.532

PETERSBURG

29

1-8

0.652

0.627

-14.88

0.517

JAMES MONROE

30

2-4

0.708

0.708

-16.50

0.517

HOOVER

31

2-7

0.574

0.554

-13.25

0.511

BERKELEY SPRINGS

32

1-8

0.701

0.701

-21.17

0.497

WEIR

33

3-6

0.404

0.458

-6.71

0.496

INDEPENDENCE

34

2-4

0.490

0.499

-15.00

0.484

PIKEVIEW

35

3-4

0.470

0.479

3.00

0.468

SCOTT

36

2-6

0.526

0.527

-19.25

0.463

RCB

37

1-6

0.561

0.546

-13.14

0.461

MAN

38

1-6

0.586

0.560

-21.86

0.450

OAK GLEN

39

2-5

0.589

0.589

-20.00

0.411

PT PLEASANT

40

1-8

0.479

0.472

-36.67

0.337

LIBERTY R

41

0-6

0.546

0.546

-33.33

0.337

SHADY SPRING

42

0-4

0.489

0.489

-21.00

0.328

LIBERTY H

43

0-8

0.562

0.562

-40.75

0.327

OAK HILL

44

0-4

0.513

0.513

-35.25

0.304

A Team RK W/L OW% SOS PtDiff Index TUCKER CO

1

8-0

0.481

0.570

41.00

0.943

ST JOE

2

5-2

0.350

0.747

33.00

0.938

PARK CATHOLIC

3

8-0

0.443

0.549

30.43

0.888

CAMERON

4

9-1

0.329

0.590

34.50

0.871

WHEELING CC

5

9-1

0.595

0.562

20.75

0.825

SHERMAN

6

6-0

0.287

0.598

11.80

0.789

MEADOW BRIDGE

7

7-0

0.267

0.528

20.00

0.778

NOTRE DAME

8

5-3

0.674

0.534

2.13

0.740

TRINITY

9

6-2

0.446

0.455

13.67

0.735

WILLIAMSTOWN

10

4-2

0.498

0.508

21.67

0.734

WAHAMA

11

3-5

0.000

0.530

32.00

0.708

MOOREFIELD

12

6-2

0.325

0.491

11.57

0.704

SUMMERS CO

13

4-2

0.388

0.554

16.67

0.693

MAGNOLIA

14

4-5

0.673

0.562

-3.83

0.683

MADONNA

15

4-4

0.437

0.562

3.80

0.651

POCAHONTAS CO

16

7-2

0.314

0.485

14.00

0.648

E HARDY

17

3-2

0.246

0.575

4.75

0.643

VALLEY F

18

3-3

0.570

0.487

4.50

0.636

VAN

19

4-2

0.399

0.480

6.00

0.636

TYLER CONSOL

20

5-4

0.491

0.509

2.11

0.628

VALLEY W

21

2-3

0.631

0.525

-0.60

0.621

CLAY-BATTELLE

22

4-3

0.450

0.459

9.00

0.619

GILMER CO

23

5-4

0.562

0.518

-13.67

0.613

RITCHIE CO

24

4-3

0.460

0.471

-0.57

0.599

GREENBRIER W

25

3-2

0.343

0.468

10.40

0.595

CHAS CATHOLIC

26

2-4

0.630

0.574

-10.00

0.585

MIDLAND TRAIL

27

3-4

0.488

0.534

-2.86

0.572

MONTCALM

28

5-4

0.419

0.481

3.33

0.570

TUG VALLEY

29

1-4

0.405

0.495

1.00

0.563

ST MARYS

30

2-4

0.567

0.537

-5.83

0.557

RAVENSWOOD

31

4-5

0.463

0.507

-4.67

0.552

TYGARTS VALLEY

32

3-5

0.522

0.473

-8.13

0.524

DODDRIDGE CO

33

3-7

0.509

0.494

-7.60

0.498

TOLSIA

34

0-7

0.657

0.657

-13.60

0.485

GBC

35

2-4

0.529

0.532

-6.60

0.484

PENDLETON CO

36

1-5

0.529

0.493

-10.20

0.458

RICHWOOD

37

0-6

0.687

0.687

-33.00

0.451

PADEN CITY

38

2-4

0.294

0.396

1.40

0.440

CALHOUN CO

39

3-5

0.398

0.404

-13.75

0.429

HANNAN

40

0-7

0.625

0.625

-26.50

0.421

S HARRISON

41

1-5

0.458

0.475

-10.33

0.409

HARMAN

42

2-1

0.188

0.269

5.50

0.399

FAYETTEVILLE

43

1-5

0.461

0.432

-23.75

0.386

MOUNT VIEW

44

1-7

0.406

0.426

-18.71

0.334

WEBSTER CO

45

1-4

0.346

0.378

-12.60

0.332

WIRT COUNTY

46

1-7

0.462

0.458

-29.00

0.331

HUNDRED

47

0-8

0.549

0.549

-48.00

0.295

BUFFALO

48

0-9

0.435

0.435

-19.29

0.290

UNION

49

0-3

0.452

0.452

-31.00

0.269

PAW PAW

50

0-6

0.350

0.350

-28.50

0.195