By Steve Keenan
Fayetteville High freshman Kendall Malay will step onto the Charleston Civic Center floor today as the Pirates compete in the state basketball tournament.
Win or lose, it will conclude a successful start to what she envisions being a solid prep basketball career.
Slightly more than a quarter-century ago, Malay’s mother, Vickie Gay (then Slayton), displayed her considerable talents on the same Civic Center floor as her Pirates, too, sought state tournament glory.
After going 24-0 in the regular season and the early rounds of the postseason — back when girls basketball in West Virginia was played in the fall — the Pirates whipped Gilmer County 76-32 in the opening round of the state event to set up a semifinal matchup with Circleville, which featured high-scoring Christy Cooper.
Circleville, led by Cooper’s 63-point outburst, blasted Fayetteville 93-60 to end the Pirates’ stellar 1988 season at 25-1.
Gay was a high-scoring force herself and, according to West Virginia high school sports guru Doug Huff, Cooper and she are still first and second, respectively, on the all-time West Virginia high school career scoring list (boys and girls combined) with 3,392 and 3,173 points, both from 1985-88.
Now the CEO of Montgomery General Hospital, Gay recalls the “obvious disappointment” of not winning a state title. “That’s what you work for as athletes.”
But, she also has fond memories of playing on the state’s grandest basketball stage. “It’s a really big deal, so I’m glad the kids are getting the opportunity to do it.”
In high school, she was a three-time first-team all-stater while averaging well over 30 points a game, and she wound up playing two years at the University of Charleston after high school.
These days, she enjoys following her daughter’s basketball games.
“She has the heart and desire to play, so obviously I’ll support her,” said Gay.
Gay says she was a “better shooter” than her daughter is now, but Kendall “is a lot quicker, obviously, and a little more vertical than I was. I’ve got to admit, I was a little lazy.”
Malay has a good attitude, her mom says, and she “sees the court and wants to make things happen, which is rare.”
“I just like to play my hardest and show her what I’m capable of,” said Kendall. She added that her mother keeps track of her scoring and she “tells me what I have to do to get better.”
Gay will be keeping her eyes on her younger daughter this week, and she’ll also be doing the same for older daughter Kylie, a FHS senior who is captain of the cheering squad offering support for the Pirates.
“It will be bittersweet for sure,” Gay said, referring to herself as “one proud momma.”