Future Is Bright For Cameron Girls
CHARLESTON — As the clock hit zero Saturday morning at the Charleston Coliseum, the Cameron girls basketball team walked off the floor as West Virginia Class A state runner-up.
While the Dragons fell short of their goal of cutting down the nets, the 2021 season was one for the history books.
Not only did Cameron make it to the state title game for the first time in school history, it was the first time the Dragons made it to the state tournament in general.
To go with the school’s regional championship and a sectional title for the first time since 2008, the Dragons might have to make a little bit more room in their trophy case.
That’s because the Dragons, although who had three very talented seniors in the stating lineup, are very young.
“I love playing with these girls. I’m proud of us,” freshman Kenzie Clutter said. “Honestly, I didn’t expect us to make it this far. We did pretty good.”
Clutter, was also in the starting lineup for the Dragons this year along with classmate Ashlynn VanTassell.
The duo certainly didn’t look like freshmen during the state tournament. Both were named to the All-Tournament Team after three impressive games.
VanTassell averaged a double-double (12.7 points and 14 rebounds). She pulled down a tournament high 42 boards over three games.
“I think it’s really bright,” VanTassell said. “We have an upcoming eighth grade class that’s pretty good, too. I think they will fill in the positions of our seniors next year.”
Clutter averaged nine points a game. But her composure and never looking rattled really impressed the crowd and media members. She helped spark the Cameron offense in the first quarter of its quarterfinal matchup against Calhoun County with 10 points. She netted 10 points that game.
“I think we have a lot of people that can step up and play for the seniors,” Clutter said
One of those players could very well be Aubre Cain-Loy. The sophomore has seen plenty of playing time this year and was the one that got the Cameron offense going during its quarterfinal matchup against Madonna with two 3-pointers, including one right before the buzzer.
Before welcoming the new players, the Dragons will say farewell to a trio of players that have certainly left their mark on the program.
Seniors Lili Neely, Emma Whipkey and Reagan Gray have been the cornerstone of the Dragons’ success over the past few years. They were freshmen when they won the school’s first OVAC title.
They were also part of the middle school team to win the school’s first conference championship.
“This is definitely a career to remember,” Neely, who was also voted on the All-Tournament Team, said. “Starting the seventh grade, we won the PAC 8 with Holly as our head coach. Coming in freshman year and winning the first OVAC (title) in high school history and senior year going out with a bang. Play in the state championship, win the OVAC, it’s definitely a great ride.”
The Dragons did not have a junior on their roster this season.
Along with Cain-Loy, Gracie Carter, Ashlee Neehouse and Gretchen Foster were the sophomores.
Along with VanTassell and Clutter, Emilee Dobbs, Ashlee Dobbs and Katelynn VanTassell were the freshmen.
With a year under their belt and learning from the upperclassmen that knows all about winning, it seems the Dragons aren’t going away anytime soon.
“There were some girls on the bench down here this year that were very talented that a lot of people didn’t get to see. Obviously, we had three outstanding seniors,” Cameron coach Holly Pettit said. “I think that the sophomores and freshmen that were down here with us, they in the combination with Kenzie and Ashlynn, they’re going to be tough. They’re going to be a force to be reckoned with and I really think Cameron is going to be on the map for a few more years.”