Round three

CHARLESTON?- The Pocahontas County vs. Tucker County girls’ basketball rivalry will soar to new heights at 9:30 a.m. Thursday.

Instead of battling inside the friendly confines of a gym in Dunmore or Hambleton, the Potomac Valley Conference?foes will meet at the Charleston Civic Center in the Class A quarterfinals of the state tournament.

The Mountain Lions (19-4) defeated the Warriors in both regular-season meetings by scores of 47-38 and 46-34.

“We’re excited about going back to Charleston for the state tournament,” second-year Tucker County coach Jim Ambrose said. “I also have great respect for coach (Mike) Kane and Pocahontas County.

“Both games we played this season were close, and we’re expecting another good game on Thursday.”

Neither team lacks state tournament experience.

The Mountain Lions will be making their 10th straight appearance in Charleston, while the Warriors have advanced to state play seven times in the past 12 years.

While the Mountain Lions’ probable starting five consists of four seniors, the Warriors (16-7) are led in scoring by four underclassmen.

Junior guard Tristin Day is averaging a team-high 18 points, followed by junior forward Bobbie McNabb, who is hitting for 12 points and a team-best 7.1 rebounds.

Sophomore point guard Melissa Murphy and freshman forward Sarah Ryder chip in with 10.5 and 9.7 points, respectively.

Tucker County counters with senior guard Stephanie Betler and her 12.5 points per game average.

Betler is joined in the starting lineup by senior forward Bekah Simmons, who fired in 24 points in the sectional championship game against Pendleton County, senior point guard Mariah Bowley, 6-foot-1 senior center Savannah Ambrose and junior guard Madison Mullenax.

Freshman forward/center Elizabeth Nichols (7.4) and junior forward Aiyana Kachmarek (7.3) supply scoring punch off the bench or in starting roles.

Thursday’s victor will face either St. Marys or Fayetteville at 11:15 a.m. Friday in the semifinals.