JM Looks to Get Over the Hump

By TRACY WATSON

MOUNDSVILLE — In his first three season as the girls’ basketball coach at John Marshall, Brock Melko has taken his team to the brink of the West Virginia Class AAA state tournament, only to fall short in the regional finals.

With four returning starters, including a senior sharpshooter who was lost to a knee injury midseason last year, Melko is hoping that this is the year the Monarchs find their way over the hump and earn a trip to Charleston.

“We have been really close,” Melko said. “Last year we finished 14-11 and once again made it to the regional finals, only to lose to Buckhannon-Upshur. But I think it was another learning experience and hopefully the experience we gained will pay off this season.”

John Marshall will be led by a trio of high-scoring players that combined to average more than 50 points a game last year.

Senior Grace Frohnapfel was scoring more than 19 points a game last year before tearing her ACL in early January and having her season end early. Frohnapfel (5-8, guard) returns this year and will be joined by classmate Avery Derrow (6-foot, forward) and junior Shay Straughn (5-5, guard).

Derrow, younger sister of former standout Torrie Derrow, was a second team all-state honoree as a junior after averaging 16 points a night. She enters this season 331 points shy of joining her sister in the school’s 1,000-point club.

Straughn also averaged 16 points an outing as a sophomore transfer from Bishop Donahue last season. The fourth returning starter is 5-8 senior guard Ivy Henderson while the Blake twins, Abby and Anna, could each see time in the starting line-up.

Heading into the season, Abby Blake (5-4) is slated to take over the point guard duties, vacated by the graduated Kaylee McMullen.

Junior 5-10 forward Kaitlyn Groves and sophomore 5-10 forward Whitney Coffield will both also see playing time while Bishop Donahue senior transfer Kenzie Bauer (5-8) rounds out the roster.

Curt Mele, former softball coach and assistant boys’ basketball coach at Bishop Donahue, joins the coaching staff along with Tierney Kearns.

“The main thing is competing,” Melko said. “No question, we have high hopes for this season and want our season to end in Charleston. But at the same time, we know that we are in a very tough region with the likes of Wheeling Park, Morgantown and Buckhannon-Upshur.

“Hopefully beefing up our schedule a little bit will be a help and show that we are ready to compete with everyone.”

John Marshall opens the campaign on the road against always tough Parkersburg South and Wheeling Park before returning to the Moundsville Fieldhouse for five consecutive games.

“We will find out where we stand right off the bat with road games at South and Park,” Melko said. “Then we come home for some big games, so we will know where we stand.

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