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A pair of local athletes from Williamson Middle School have elected to begin their high school careers at nearby Martin County High School ahead of local schools Belfry, Mingo Central, or Tug Valley.

According to David & Darryl Sports, guards Laken Williams and Jaaliyah Warren both have enrolled at Martin County and will be suiting up for the Lady Cardinals this fall.

Both Williams and Warren have been arguably the most talented players at the middle school level in Mingo County for the past two years for the Lady Wolfpack under coach Julius “Boo Boo” Hatcher.

They each were named to the Mingo County All-Tournament team the past two seasons and helped Williamson claim the third place trophy in 2019 and then finished as runner-up in the 2020 season.

Williams is an above-average scorer that can fill it up from beyond the arc while also being able to finish in transition.

Warren is taller than Williams but can still handle the ball as she played point-guard for the Lady Pack. He forte is driving towards the rim but she also has proved to be able to hit a mid-range jumpshot with ease.

It was widely expected that Williams would choose to go to Belfry, which is where her sister Javi just graduated in 2020. She was a member of Belfry High School’s first ever Cheerleading State Championship in 2018. She is also a talented soccer player.

Warren also has several family members that have went to school at Pond Creek, and is the daughter of former Williamson athlete J.J. Warren, who led the Wolfpack as quarterback during his playing days.

Both are extremely unselfish players on the hardwood and should have a chance to contribute right away for coach Robin Newsome’s Lady Cardinals, who finished 21-10 a year ago and are the reigning 57th District Champions.

This is only the second year for Martin County High School as they were formerly known as Sheldon Clark. A brand new school and gymnasium was built in Inez and opened before the start of the 2019 school year.

In other local sports news, athletes in the Tug Valley area are finally back out on the fields practicing and conditioning for the hopeful return of high school sports this fall.

The Mingo Central Football team started conditioning this past week in groups of 10 as they have to follow guidelines set forth by Gov. Jim Justice as well as the WVSSAC.

A couple of local travel baseball teams have also been getting some reps in down at Lefty Hamilton Park while several local softball players from Tug Valley have joined travel teams and are playing games all across the area.

With less then two months remaining until the scheduled start of fall sports in West Virginia and Kentucky, the decision makers in both states still have a lot to figure out if sports are to resume in August.

But seeing players back on the field getting in shape is a step in the right direction.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at