By Dan Stillwell
Hope Lester just keeps getting better and better.
Westside’s 6-foot junior center was immediately one of the state’s best post players straight out of the blocks as a freshman. She added a 3-point shot as a sophomore, and this season began creating her own shots, driving the ball to the basket with authority.
She averaged 20 points, 14 rebounds, three blocks, four assists and two steals in leading the 21-3 Renegades to their second state championship in the past three years.
Her efforts have landed her the captain’s position on the Class AA all-state first team, as named by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
“It all goes back to Hope’s work ethic. She works all year round on her game,” Westside coach Jamie Lusk said. “She plays AAU ball and faces the best competition around. She’s not intimidated by anybody because of what she sees during the spring and summer.”
Lester was unquestionably the dominant AA player at the state tournament. She topped all scorers in her class with 64 points, led the rebounders with 42, had the most free throws made with 13 and was third in 3-point goals with five.
Already committed to Marshall University, Lester will no doubt play outside on the next level. Preparing for that, Lusk often utilized her as a guard as well as a post.
“Hope is still learning the position, but she handles the ball as good as anybody around,” he said. “She sees the floor well and she’s a great passer. She has a very high basketball IQ.”
So what will Lester bring to her game for her final season?
“That’s a good question. She’s already put it all together,” Lusk said. “She’s got the skills needed to perform at the next level.
“I think she’ll be able to do whatever she desires to do. She works that hard.”
Summers County 5-11 center Brandy Morrison, a four-year letterman, saved the best for last. The team’s only senior starter, she had numerous high-scoring games early while her young teammates jelled around her.
Morrison averaged 17 points, eight rebounds and three steals for the 20-4 Bobcats.
Clay County’s McKinzee Barker, like Lester, is a holdover from last year’s first-team.
The junior was worth far more than her 12.5 points a game, giving solid rebounding, playmaking and defense to the 16-6 Panthers.
Lincoln’s Emily Knight and Tolsia’s Savannah Winnett both advanced from last year’s second team.
Knight, a 5-10 senior forward, averaged 11.4 points, seven rebounds, 4.5 assists and two steals for the 16-5 Cougars.
Winnett, also a senior, was a powerhouse in scoring and rebounding for the Rebels, who were 7-15 in a rebuilding year. She provided 15 points and 11 rebounds per game.
Runner-up Sissonville placed 5-8 senior Brittany Gould on the AA first team. She averaged 20 points a contest, tops among three high scorers on the 23-4 Indians.
Kaden Whaley, a 5-11 junior forward, contributed 21 points and nine rebounds for state tournament top seed Fairmont Senior (21-2).
Senior guard Lexi Carr from Keyser wasn’t well known before the state tournament, but her performances there established herself as one of West Virginia’s top players. She averaged 18.1 points for the 24-3 Golden Tornado.
Emily Stoller, the other half of Fairmont Senior’s dynamic post game, captains the second team. The 6-1 junior gave the Polar Bears 20 points a game.
Also on the second team are Sissonville’s Madison Jones, North Marion’s Megan Haller, Hailey Miller from Ravenswood, Anne Maria Moscufo from North Marion, Herbert Hoover’s Hannah King, Weir’s Alyssa Shingle and Berkeley Spring’s Sarah Haynes.
The third team features Faith Davis from Westside, Whittney Justice from Summers County, Lyndsay Hatfield from PikeView, Scott’s Ali Whitman, Chapmanville’s Kristen Desrocher, Cassidy Taylor from Roane County, Grafton’s Hannah Griffith and captain Lexi Taylor from Keyser.
2014 All-state girls’ basketball
West Virginia Sports Writers Association
Hope Lester, WestSide, 11 (Capt.)
McKinzee Barker, Clay County, 11
Kaden Whaley, Fairmont Senior, 11
Brittany Gould, Sissonville, 12
Brandy Morrison, Summers County, 12
Lexi Carr, Keyser, 12
Savannah Winnett, Tolsia, 12
Emily Knight, Lincoln, 12
Alyssa Shingle, Weir, 12
Sarah Haynes, Berkeley Springs, 12
Megan Haller, North Marion, 10
Emily Stoller, Fairmont Senior, 11 (capt.)
Madison Jones, Sissonville, 10
Hailey Miller, Ravenswood, 11
Hannah King, Herbert Hoover, 12
Anne Marie Moscufo, North Marion, 12
Cassidy Taylor, Roane County, 11
Hannah Griffith, Grafton, 10
Ali Whitman, Scott, 12
Lyndsay Hatfield, PikeView, 11
Faith Davis, WestSide, 11
Whittney Justice, Summers County, 9
Lexi Taylor, Keyser, 11 (capt.)
Kristen Desrocher, Chapmanville, 12
Makayla McElwayne, Lincoln; Hayley Haning, Lincoln; Hannah Fetty, Bridgeport; Tessa Clark, Grafton; Kaelyn Drainer, Grafton; Corin Todd, Robert C. Byrd; Tyaina Horton, Fairmont Senior; Kelsey Morrone, Fairmont Senior; Presley Tuttle, North Marion; Noca Singleton, North Marion; Felicity VanGilder, East Fairmont; Brooklynn Weaver, East Fairmont; Karli Pinkerton, Sissonville; Bailey Aab, Herbert Hoover; Danielle Brown, Westside; Megan Endicott, Westside; Brittney Justice, Summers County; Avery Pivont, Summers County; Destiny Sims, Bluefield; Dazia Edwards, Bluefield; Bre Pertee, Wyoming East; Madison May, PikeView; Katie Dobbs, River View; Keisha Johnson, Mount View; Taylor Treadway, Ravenswood; Vanessa Tallman, Ritchie County; Isabella Haverty, Clay County; Emily Harper, Braxton County; Jordan Presley, Tolsia; Vanessa Hissam, Oak Glen; Brittani Bible, Petersburg; Ashley Curry, Mingo Central; Samantha Stout, Webster County.