Lady Bucs earn top seed in sectional tournament

Lady Bucs Coach Rob Kittle rallies his team, coaching them during a timeout in B-U win over Lewis County. DALTON WRIGHT /The Record Delta

TENNERTON — The Buckhannon-Upshur High School varsity girls basketball team concluded the 2021-22 regular season following a busy week in which they played 4 games in 7 days. The Lady Bucs collected wins against East Fairmont, Elkins, and Grafton before coming up short against #2-ranked Morgantown at home by a final score of 60-39 in their Valentine’s Day’s regular season finale. 

In the week’s first game against East Fairmont, the Lady Bucs senior leader Shelby McDaniels added another statistically significant milestone to her already impressive high school basketball resume as she recorded her first career triple-double. McDaniels scored 22 points, pulled down 13 rebounds, and distributed 12 assists in the Lady Bucs dominant 64-36 victory over the then #8-ranked Bees in a top-ten match up.

Sophomore shooting guard/small forward Gabby Parke played some of her best basketball of the season against rival Elkins, leading the team with 18 points on an outstandingly efficient 8-10 (80%) shooting from the field. As a team, the Lady Bucs perimeter defenders forced Elkins out of their comfort zone, leading to 23 Elkins turnovers during their 30-point, 67-37 blowout win over the Tigers.

The Lady Bucs kept playing at peak form against Grafton, exploding for a season high 81 points as a team during another blowout win. Five different Lady Bucs reached double-digit scoring numbers in the 37-point, 81-44 win over Grafton. Junior forward Kendal Currence paced the Lady Bucs in scoring with 16, while sophomore combo guard Kenna Maxwell was the team’s second-leading scorer with 14 points. Both Alyssa Abel and Olivia Ellis came away with 13 points apiece, while McDaniels, who ended the night early, getting a well-deserved breather in the second half, finished the game with 10 points in limited action.

The Lady Bucs wrapped up regular season action with their previously mentioned loss to #2-ranked Morgantown. B-U dropped the match-up of top six ranked teams following an uncharacteristically cold shooting night, only managing to score a season-low 39 points. Freshman small forward Alyssa Abel was the only Lady Buc to score in double-digits, finishing the game with 10 points in the loss. The Lady Bucs head coach Rob Kittle hopes that his team uses their loss in the regular season finale as one final learning experience before entering the postseason. 

Under Kittle’s guidance, the Lady Bucs have been one of the state’s most consistently competitive teams all season long, compiling a 17-5 overall record, including a 10-2 mark in Big 10 Conference play. The Lady Bucs overall body of work was impressive enough to end the season ranked as the sixth best team in the state, ranked third in Class AAAA Region I, and rated as the top seed in the Region I, Section 2 tournament, slated to be played this week. The Lady Bucs enter the sectional tournament with good reason to be confident, after sweeping their regular season contests against sectional foes, finishing the season with a perfect 3-0 record against University, Preston, and Bridgeport. While the Lady Bucs overcame both Bridgeport and Preston with relative ease, they had a much more difficult time beating University, escaping with a 3-point, 53-50 victory. This game might very well prove to be a preview of the sectional championship game between the tournament’s top two seeds; however, first coach Kittle and the #1-seeded Lady Bucs must take care of business at home against #4-seeded Bridgeport in tonight’s match-up slated for a 7 p.m. tip-off. #2-seeded University will play host to #3-seeded Preston in the other side of the sectional tournament bracket, with the two opening round winners scheduled to play this Friday, February 25 at 7 p.m. If the tournament runs chalk, meaning the two higher seeds avoid upset bids and advance; the Lady Bucs would have home-court advantage as the tournament’s highest remaining seed will play host for the sectional championship game. Should the Lady Bucs go on to win the sectional championship, they will move on to play in the Region I tournament for a bid to the state tournament in Charleston.

The overall regional seedings had Morgantown first, Wheeling Park second, Buckhannon-Upshur third, University fourth, John Marshall fifth, Preston sixth, Bridgeport seventh and Brooke eighth. The Lady Bucs were 3-2 in the region sweeping their side of sectional opponents but dropped contests against both of their non-sectional games against potential regional opponents, with losses against Wheeling Park and Morgantown. Region I boasts some of the best teams in the state, with three of the top six teams according to the latest West Virginia Class AAAA AP polls, with Morgantown second, Wheeling Park is third with the Lady Bucs sixth.

TOURNAMENT SEEDINGS AND PAIRINGS

Region 1, Section 2

1. Buckhannon-Upshur

2. University

3. Preston

4. Bridgeport

Tuesday

No. 4 Bridgeport at No. 1 Buckhannon-Upshur, 7 p.m.

No. 3 Preston at No. 2 University, 7 p.m.

Friday

Winner of Bridgeport-Buckhannon-Upshur vs. winner of Preston-University, at the highest seed remaining, 7 p.m.

Region 1, Section 1

1. Morgantown

2. Wheeling Park

3. John Marshall

4. Brooke

Tuesday

No. 4 Brooke at No. 1 Morgantown, 7 p.m.

No. 3 John Marshall at No. 2 Wheeling Park, 7 p.m.

Friday

Winner of Brooke-Morgantown vs. winner of John Marshall-Wheeling Park winner, at the highest seed remaining, 7 p.m.

Region 1 Overall Seedings

1. Morgantown

2. Wheeling Park

3. Buckhannon-Upshur

4. University

5. John Marshall

6. Preston

7. Bridgeport

8. Brooke

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