The Press Box: The challenges of the last 14 months
While I truly enjoy watching and writing about our local high school athletic teams, it has been one of the toughest jobs I have ever had over the last 14 months. Mainly because schedule changes have been hard to keep up with. When COVID first hit back in February 2020, I never would have believed how disrupted it would be for local athletes, coaches, parents and sportswriters.
Here at the local newspapers we take pride in covering our local athletic teams. We like to visit each school as often as we can and get pictures of our athletes in action in every sport. While it is starting to get back to normal it still isn’t there yet. We have tried to follow our schedules and we check each day to see who is and isn’t playing but it still is tough to keep up.
This spring with winter and spring sports overlapping and some schools struggling to have enough to field teams, complete coverage has proved difficult.
The past two weeks I appeared at three different scheduled games only to find out they had been canceled due to COVID exposure. Then there have been games we have missed because we never knew they had been scheduled.
Randy Rutherford, our sportswriter at the Tyler Star News has had a full time job just trying to keep up with schedule changes and making it to as many events as possible. Rick Loy here at the Chronicle has been to several games, but also has missed a few because of changes we never knew about. Both can be reached by email. email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org – email@example.com
However tonight Tyler Boys play basketball at Cameron to see who goes to the state tournament. With Basketball season over for the rest of our local teams and the state wrestling tournament finished, it’s all baseball, softball and track. We have some pretty good teams and there will be some exciting moments the rest of the year if we don’t get caught up in the COVID thing again.
Magnolia boys basketball was a very good team this year and many felt they had a good chance of making it to Charleston, the problem was going into sectional play against Ritchie County two key members of the team were quarantined. Let’s hope the kids stay healthy and get to finish their seasons this spring.
I want to point out a few highlights from the winter sports teams. Magnolia senior basketball player Mady Winters had several double-double games despite being double teamed nearly every time she stepped on the floor. Five times she hit over 30 points and on her biggest effort of her career, she knocked in 50 points and had 18 rebounds, setting a school single game scoring record. She also grabbed her 1,000th rebound for her high school career despite only playing three seasons due to an injury. On another occasion she hit for 33 and pulled down 23 rebounds. She will be playing volleyball next season at Wheeling University. I look for her to do great things, they have a nice program.
Senior Gavin Postlethwait has signed to play basketball on the next level at Penn State Fayette a small college in Pennsylvania. Postlethwait had four or five games this year in a much shorthened season where he hit for over 20 points and had double figures in rebounds seven times. His top game was 31 points. Teammate Trevor Williamson knocked down 35 twice and had another 31 point effort, while hitting in double figures 11 times. Just a junior he will be back next season to lead coach Dave Tallmans team.
Another year of growth and off season work and he should provide much excitement for big Blue fans.
Tyler Consolidated senior Justin Bowman has played steady all season. He had a couple standout performances including a 29 point effort, plus he was always around the boards grabbing rebounds and blocking shots. Top scroer for the Knights this season has been junior forward Caleb Strode who averages right around 20 points a game and hits the boards for double figures in rebounds nearly every game. His big night of the season was a 35 point, 15 rebound game. He will be the key for the Knights next season.
Paden City finished the season with a 7-7 record led by senior Ty Cain who hit over 30 points twice and had several 20 plus point nights to go along with his rebounding. Ty could hit from outside when teams doubled up on him down low. We have him with close to 30 three pointers on the year. Wildcat sophomore guard Joel Moore is one of the best players in the area.
He had three games over 30 points including a 36 pointer and a 35 point night. He’s a good ball handler and has a very nice jump shot that’s hard to defend. Expect big things from him the next two seasons.
Valley senior Tommy Shannon was steady most of the year, and had a few games over 20, with his big night coming just last week when he nailed down 25 points and filled the stat books in every category.
He a nice all around player who the Lumberjacks will miss. Gavin Streets who missed the first several games with an injury had a couple big moments but his presence and leadership on the floor made a difference once he returned.
Hundred was led most of the season by Bobby Hostutler who hit in double figures 12 times and had double figures in rebounding 8 times. His top night was a 23 point effort against Tygarts Valley.
Tyler Consolidated sent four athletes to the state wrestling tournament, Magnolia sent two and for the first time since the school offered wrestling five years ago Paden City had two wrestlers qualify. Making it to the state tournament is tough, competition at the regionals is just about what you will get once you reach Huntington.
Comgratulations to Lucas Zombotti (113), Magnolia, Jason Beisel (132) Magnolia, Jasup Spragg (126) Paden City, Doneven Clarke (220) Paden City, Danny McCune (106) Tyler Consolidated, Kaden Huffman (113) Tyler Consolidated, Sean Winfrey (152) Tyler Consolidated, and Trenton Huffman (160).
Special recognition goes to Magnolia senior Jason Beisel as he defeated a strong opponent from Cameron Payton Neely for third place. Beisel won on a 5-3 decision to finish his season and career at Magnolia 17-3. He didn’t allow a single point to be scored on him all season except for escape points.
The Knights Trenton Huffman also gets special recognition for his third place finish. Huffman ended the season with a 25-3 record and is only a sohomore.
With winter sports now over and the weather changing for the better, get out and watch some of the high school games. Track season is underway and if you want to watch some of the best locally, go out to Tyler Consolidated and watch them perform on the new eight lane track. If you’ve never seen the Knights sports complex you’ll be amazed at the track, and ball fields. Everything there is first class. We commend the Tyler County school system on their efforts to provide the best for their children.