Chapman Back To Pace Magnolia
By TRACY WATSON
NEW MARTINSVILLE — As the long-time girls’ basketball coach at River High, and entering his third season at Magnolia, Tom Tisher knows what it takes to win and feels that his Blue Eagles may have a little bit of that magic.
Coming off a 16-7 record, and a trip to the regionals, Magnolia returns four starters from last season and a great nucleus of younger kids as well.
The biggest hole to fill will be that of 1,367-point scorer Grace Berisford, who picked up her diploma last spring. Also gone from that team are Anna Gibb, Cedar Sands, Mandi Theordora and Rachel Arbogast.
“We have 21 kids out this year, and while I am pretty happy about that it still really isn’t as many as I was expecting,” Tisher said. “I have to stress the fact that all of these girls are very good athletes. We just aren’t sure yet how good of basketball players they all are.”
Kelsi Chapman (5-foot-7, guard) leads the list of returning starters after scoring nearly 16 points a night last year while 5-8 guard Taylor Ludwig was also a double-figure scorer. Jordan Dulaney (5-4, guard) is the team’s best penetrator while Autumn Cecil (5-10, post) is the leading rebounder.
The fifth starter will come from a group that includes juniors Katie Hamrick (5-5, guard), Lexi Kernan (5-5, guard) and Logan Spencer (5-7, guard) along with sophomore Aquera Cabral (5-3, guard) and freshman Kyndra Pilant (6-0, post). Hamrick is currently recovering from a minor knee injury while Kernan is out for the first time and Spencer sat out last season.
“Our kids are very athletic,” Tisher said. “Jordan Dulaney is a three-time state champion in track while Taylor Ludwig and Kelsi Chapman are both key members of the volleyball team that had advanced to the state tournament three times in their careers.”
Other sophomores battling for playing time include Gabby Cecil (5-7, post), Rian Dawson (5-4, guard), Brooklyn Estep (6-0, post), Olivia Mensore (5-6, guard) and Jaclin Wolfe (5-6, guard).
A large, and athletic group of freshmen include Liza Clegg (5-3, guard), Raegan Hale (5-7, guard), Ashley Kelly (5-11, post), Clara Moore (5-7, guard), Morgan Moore (5-8, post), Laura Ann Smith (5-7, post) and Sierra Walker (5-2, guard).
Phil Hulsey, who also assisted Tisher while at River, is back on the bench as his assistant.
“We are coming off a pretty good season in which we advanced to the OVAC Tournament and finished third and was also a regional runner-up,” Tisher commented. “So we are cautiously optimistic going into this season with four starters back from that team.
“I have been coaching girls’ basketball most of my adult life and I know you cannot win without good people, and we have good people here. I don’t think it is going to be difficult finding that fifth starter either.
“We are going to have a good bench as well. Those are things that helped us be very successful at River and I feel like it will help us be very successful here as well. We do have some youth and inexperience, but we have some kids that can play.”