Class A girls’ basketball all-state first team
By Tony Viola
WHEELING – It’s hard not to pay attention to Lindsey Baker when she’s on the court.
Actually, it’s nearly impossible because the Wheeling Central junior is seemingly everywhere.
The 5-foot-7 point guard caught the eye of the Ohio Valley when she scored a career-high 32 points in a season-opening victory against Magnolia, and became even more deadly at the state tournament, where she averaged tournament highs of 16.3 points and five steals a game.
It was at the Charleston Civic Center where she captured the attention of the West Virginia Sports Writer’s Association, which named her the captain of the Class A girls’ basketball all-state first team.
She is joined on the first team by St. Marys’ Ashley Hall, Huntington St. Joseph’s Mychelle Johnson and Alexis Hall, Williamstown’s Ashley Morris, Fayetteville’s Kendall Malay, Madonna’s Monica Bragg and Charleston Catholic’s Catherine Bandak, all of whom are first-time first-team honorees.
”Lindsey makes a lot of things happen – most of them are good,” Wheeling Central coach Penn Kurtz said.
Baker averaged team-highs of 14.4 points, 2.7 assists and 2.5 steals a game in guiding the Maroon Knights to a Class A-best 23-4 record and an appearance in the state title game, where they found themselves on the wrong end of a 40-37 decision against seven-time champ St. Joe.
”She worked a lot in the gym trying to get stronger by lifting weights,” Kurtz said. ”She was in the gym pretty much all summer long.”
Baker also spent the summer playing AAU ball, where she said she improved not only her shot, but her basketball I.Q. as well.
”She’s a nice player,” Tucker County coach Jim Ambrose said. ”She handles the ball well, shoots the ball off the dribble well and passes well. She was a tall order for us.”
He’s talking about the Maroon Knights’ victory against the Mountain Lions in the semifinal round of the state tournament where Baker scored a game-high 26 points behind a 16-of-19 showing from the foul line. She hit on 23 of her 30 free-throw attempts in three tournament games.
Baker is one of four juniors on the first team, while Bandak is the only senior. The 6-foot-1 forward missed the past two seasons with knee injures after an impressive freshman campaign for the Irish. She led Charleston Catholic this season with 12.6 points per game.
Johnson, the lone returning starter for St. Joe, averaged 9.2 points, 5.4 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 3.9 steals a game, while Alexis Hall, the lone freshman on the first team, chipped in 16 points and 6.3 rebounds an outing. Hall stepped up in the title game when Johnson was hobbled with an ankle injury she suffered in the game’s opening minutes. The freshman paced the Irish with 17 points, 10 boards and four steals.
Bragg, a junior, led OVAC 1A runner-up Madonna with 23.4 points, 10.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists per game and shot 45.8 percent from the floor.
Malay guided Fayetteville to a return trip to the state tournament as she averaged a team-best 18 points a game. The sophomore led the young Pirates with 16 points and six rebounds in a quarterfinal loss to Wheeling Central.