WILLIAMSTOWN - For any West Virginia girls basketball team to win the championship at this week's state tournament, it will have to win three games against extremely-strong competition.
That's a scenario quite familiar to Williamstown head coach Fred Sauro and his Yellowjackets. They've already accomplished that feat by winning the Class A Region 1 championship.
The Yellowjackets knocked off fifth-ranked Parkersburg Catholic, 63-50, in the sectional semifinal. In the championship game, Williamstown bumped off No. 3 St. Marys, 77-62. Then in the regional, it earned a state tournament berth with a 72-53 win over No. 10 Madonna.
That win was the 20th of the season for Williamstown, which takes a 20-4 mark into today's 9:30 a.m. opening-round game against Tucker County
"Our regional was the toughest,'' Sauro said. "It had five teams ranked in the top 10.''
Williamstown didn't just win the regional, it dominated it with three double-digit wins.
"These kids have been remarkable,'' said Sauro. "Most of them are three-sport athletes that won the state track title last spring and were the state volleyball runners-up during the fall. They're competitive kids.''
And they love basketball. Anytime the Williamstown gym is open for play, they are there. And don't think they are shirking their homework. Their grade-point average in the classroom is just as impressive as their play on the court.
This isn't some big, strong, physical team that is going to outmuscle you. Its tallest player stands just 5-foot-7. What the 'Jackets lack in height, they make up for in speed, savvy, determination and a whatever-it-takes attitude.
The Yellowjackets fly. They love to run on offense. They love to press on defense. They averaged 80 points per game during the regular season.
Williamstown has a superstar in senior Liz Flowers, a three-time all-state player who is averaging 25.7 points per game. She is the leading scorer in the history of Williamstown High School boys or girls with 1,958 points. She's already accepted a full scholarship to West Liberty. But that will come later. Right now, there is a state championship to be won, and if Williamstown is going to win it, Flowers must continue to play at her incredibly-high level.
Yet, this is not a one-player show. Junior Kenzie Smith averages 17.3 points per game. She has made 48 percent of her field-goal attempts, including 35 treys.
Other starters include junior Jessi Kerns, the best defender on the team. She has stepped up during the postseason and is playing her best ball of the year.
Williamstown has a pair of 5-7 forwards in senior Courtney Taylor and junior Kathleen Cornell. Taylor can play any position on the court. She is averaging 7.5 points per game and makes nearly 80 percent of her free throws. Cornell has become a perimeter threat, She averages 5.7 points and makes 81 percent of her free throws. She's also a strong, aggressive defender.
The top players off the bench are juniors Brooke Cieslewski and Carley Ellison. Ceislewski is a part-time starter who can both hit the trey and penetrate. Ellison is a part-time starter and the team's leading rebounder with 192, including 90 offensive caroms. She hit a pair of huge treys in the sectional.
Other reserves are Sami Rea, Megan Albertson, Lauren Amos, Cami Mossor and Allie Robinson.
Many are anticipating a title game pitting No. 1 seed Huntington St. Joe and No. 3 seed Williamstown. But the 'Jackets will take it one game at a time and if that happens on Saturday, they'll be ready.