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Blue Devils face top-ranked St. Joe

PARKERSBURG — With one year left in Class A basketball, Huntington St. Joe and head coach Shannon Lewis are looking to go out like they usually do, on top.

The defending state champions and top-seeded 22-1 Irish open play at 5:30 p.m. today in Charleston against No. 8 seed St. Marys, which sports a 16-8 mark and advanced to the state quarterfinals for the first time in four years.

Dayton recruit Bailee Adkins and recently named W.Va. Gatorade Player of the Year Grace Hutson leads the way for a program that since 2008 has nine state crowns and three runner-up finishes.

“I know we are just a little step to get to where they want to be on Saturday,” said Blue Devil boss Howard Meeks, whose team is led in scoring by Kylie Wright (11.7 ppg).

“Hopefully, we work really hard and make them play one of their best games and you never know what can happen.”

Along with averaging better than 10 points a game, Adkins also leads the team in assists (7.3) and steals (4.3) per game. Hutson, a junior, puts up 19.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 2.8 steals and two assists an outing.

“Hannah Roberts (12.4 ppg, 5.9 rpg) had a great state tournament last year and she has really been a force this year,” Lewis admitted. “Abby Lee (9.0 ppg, 3.6 spg) has stepped into that fifth starting spot and has just been phenomenal.”

Dionna Gray, who puts up 11.3 points, nearly four assists and 2.4 steals a game, is also a starter.

“Howie does an excellent job. Their kids are always well coached,” Lewis said of the Blue Devil head man. “He has a solid team and they are balanced in scoring.”

Wright, who also leads the team with 31 made 3s and is a 75% free-throw shooter, pulls down nearly six boards a game.

Josey Moore (8.6 ppg, 2.6 apg, 2.0 spg), Zoe Davis (8.5 ppg), Lara Fetty (7.7 ppg, 2.0 spg) and Alexis Hashman (5.4 ppg, 2.5 apg) are also integral parts for SMHS, which features Millie Kehrer inside. She’s blocked 40 shots and averages a team best 6.5 rebounds per game.

“It doesn’t matter how big the task is,” Meeks noted. “There are stories all the time like David and Goliath. I am not saying their Goliath is evil, but we have a huge task at hand. We want to play hard.

“We have to learn what a good program looks like and learn how to compete against that again so we can get better. If we make some shots and they miss some shots it’s girls basketball and anything can happen.”

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