By Grant Traylor
The Herald-Dispatch of Huntington
Huntington St. Joseph might’ve won its sixth straight Class A title in the 2013-14 season, but the theme of the year could’ve simply been called “Three.”
The 3-point shot is how the Irish made a living in their 23-3 season. That was never more evident than in the Class A championship, when the Irish hit 17 of them to earn an 83-48 win over St. Marys.
For the season, the Irish hit 277 3-pointers in 26 games — an average of 10.7 per game — while putting up nearly 30 3-point attempts per contest.
Given that “Three” was the theme of the season, it is almost fitting that the Irish had three members of the West Virginia girls basketball Class A first team, as voted on by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association.
Huntington St. Joe’s trio of first-teamers were Mychal Johnson, Griffin Dempsey and Rachel Lee — three players who combined for 242 of the team’s 277 3-pointers this year.
“Threes are what we live by,” Huntington St. Joe coach Shannon Lewis said. “There’s not just one of them hitting. All three shoot well and if one is off, the other two pick them up. That took the pressure off each of them and they went out and played their game.”
Johnson was voted the first-team captain after a season in which she averaged 20.3 points, 5.9 rebounds, 5.7 assists and 3.7 steals in 26 games.
The Notre Dame signee said seeing the Irish with three first-team selections solidified how strong the team was over the course of its run.
“The three of us went out and showed what we could do on the court and I think it’s great because it shows how hard each of us worked to get there,” Johnson said.
Dempsey finished with 102 3-pointers on the season while averaging 16 points per game. She matched her own individual state tournament game record when she dropped seven 3-pointers and finished with 30 points in the championship win over St. Marys.
Lee, who averaged 15.3 points per game, saved her best play for late in the season, averaging nearly 24 points a game over the final eight games. That included the state championship contest in which she eclipsed the 1,000-point plateau en route to a 21-point championship performance.
“It’s pretty special when you have three girls eclipse 1,000 points,” Lewis said. “Mychal was close to 2,000 for her career and Griff was over 1,500. These girls know how to score and they can knock down shots.”
St. Marys was represented on the first team by senior Kendra Walker, the Devils’ double-double machine in the post.
Walker and Buffalo senior Chelsey Parkins moved to the first team after being chosen as second-team selections in 2013.
Gilmer County senior Julie Bishop joined Lee as players making the ascent from third team in 2013 to first team in 2014. Bishop helped lead Gilmer County to the Region 4 final this season.
Charleston Catholic freshman Vida Imani showed that the future of Class A basketball will still be strong after leading the Irish to the Class A state semifinals.
“She’s going to be really good,” Lewis said of Imani. “She’s a bigger girl, but she can handle the basketball and knock down outside shots.”
Pocahontas County sophomore Tristin Day, another promising young player in the state, rounds out the first team.
St. Marys sophomore Ashley Hall was selected as captain of the second team after joining Walker to lead the Devils back to the championship game for the fourth time in five years.
Returning second-team selections included Trinity senior Jackie Halapy and Magnolia senior Mallory Chapman.
Wheeling Central junior Regan Blaha and sophomore Lindsey Baker also were named second-team selections, along with Huntington St. Joe sophomore Mychelle Johnson, Tucker County senior Stephanie Betler, and Tyler Consoliated senior Sophia Kinnard.
Third-team honorees included Meadow Bridge’s Caitlin White, the captain and one of three seniors on the third team. Other seniors included Huntington St. Joe’s Asia Petitte and Charleston Catholic’s Anna Whelan.
Juniors on the third team included Fayetteville’s Maddie Pritt and Parkersburg Catholic’s Alex Schaffer while Madonna’s Monica Bragg and Notre Dame’s Francesca Steele were honored as sophomores.
Williamstown’s Ashley Morris, who joined Imani as the lone freshmen earning postseason accolades, capped the third team.
Local honorable mention choices included Midland Trail’s Madison Syner, Meadow Bridge’s Ally Redden and Fayetteville’s Avina Sedlock and Kendall Malay.