Oak Glen’s ready to tip off the season
NEW MANCHESTER, W.Va. — The Oak Glen girls basketball team is a mixture of returning experience sprinkled with many sophomores and freshmen, 13 to be exact.
Also, the new rule in West Virginia for breaking into four classes instead of three could help the Golden Bears in the long run.
However, just like every team in the state has to deal with, Oak Glen has to work around the limited schedule and make the best of what 2021 can offer.
“To say you didn’t think it was coming would be a lie. To hear that you are postponed hurts,” head coach Scott Wiley said. “You feel bad for the seniors, but you also feel bad for the younger kids who have a chance to play and develop. It’s just all up in the air.”
From being postponed until Jan. 11, then not returning to practice until Feb. 15 can mentally hurt anyone. Possibly one positive from what is transpiring because of COVID-19 is the Golden Bears will have everyone back and healthy from the fall.
Two of their top returning players are seniors Reece Enochs (shooting guard) and Alayna Kranis (center). Enochs is the soccer program’s all-time leading scorer, while Kranis is a state volleyball champion and led the club to another state tournament appearance in November.
“Reece and Alayna got a lot of time playing as freshmen, so they have a lot of experience,” Wiley said.“Reece is our leading scorer, and Alayna is our leading rebounder. She’ll be lucky to score five points a game, but man she grabs rebounds. To have them back will be really nice.”
Enochs averaged a team-best 12.8 points last year and made 54 of Oak Glen’s 89 three-pointers. She has a shot at 1,000 career points, though a full season would have been easier to accomplish.
Kranis averaged 4.1 points per contest, but her best work comes in the rebounding department, grabbing 9.5 per and 219 overall.
Enochs and Kranis are guaranteed starters, along with junior point guard Maddie McKay. The softball standout averaged 7.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and a team-high 4.5 assists per contest a season ago.
“Maddie has been our point guard since her freshman year. I’d like to get her off the floor for some rest, but that’ll be tough because she just does so many good things for us,” Wiley said.
The other two starting spots are up in the air for the time being. The early-season favorites are seniors Izzy Barganski (post) and Rory McNutt (wing), along with the possibility of junior guard Ally Severs.
“We get Izzy back. She had a knee injury last year but played really well and was one of our defensive specialists as a sophomore. She isn’t real big but tough as nails,” Wiley said.
“Rory is one of our wing players. She’s real feisty and aggressive. Ally didn’t play any varsity last year, but she is a good shooter. We’re hoping she can come off the bench and give us some points.”
The rest of the roster consists of five sophomores and eight freshmen looking for quality varsity minutes. The Golden Bears hope they can combine to make up for the two seniors gone via graduation in Alexa Andrews (8.2 PPG, 7.1 RPG) and Brittany Giorgini (6.9 PPG).
“We have a good group of sophomores, including the Brown twins,” Wiley said.“Sarah Brown has some size to her. Alexus Greenlief, another post player, got a lot of playing time last year. I would say the best part of her game is she sees the floor real well and is a good passer. Her and Carson Barr are around 5-foot-8 and were on the soccer team (Greenlief was the goalkeeper). Carson runs the court real well.”
The other sophomores are Sydney Brown and Lizzie Kell.
In the freshman class, the two most recognizable names are Kami Ward and Ashlyn Six. Ward was a huge spark during the soccer team’s tournament run, as well as Six with volleyball.
“Kami is a really good athlete. Skill-wise, she’s coming along,” Wiley said. “Ashlyn is a taller girl we were hoping to get a chance to look at, but she was late coming in because of the success with the volleyball team.”
The remaining freshmen are Macey Enochs, Avery Hall, Jaylin Kell, Hannah Kliner, Brasinn Prvenzano and Natasha Ward.
Oak Glen finished 12-11 last season and fell in the Class AA sectional play-in contest. This abbreviated year, the Golden Bears are in AAA with Weir High, North Marion and Wheeling Central. No more Fairmont schools to worry about.
“North Marion is still North Marion. You never know what you’re going to get with Wheeling Central. I think they graduated three Division I players last year,” Wiley said.“Weirton, they defeated us the last five times we faced them. So, there isn’t much of a rivalry there because we can’t figure them out. I try to get them fired up to play them.”
The Golden Bears plan to open the season on Thursday at Wheeling Central. Their home opener is a 2 p.m. contest Saturday against North Marion and return to their gym for senior night Monday against Cameron.
Other important dates include March 13 (at Madonna), March 18 (Brooke), March 19 (at Wheeling Park), March 20 (at Weir High), March 22 (Madonna), March 25 (Wheeling Central), March 29 (Weir High), April 1 (John Marshall) and April 5 (at Brooke).
Wiley will be assisted by Ashley Tharp, Rachel Wright-McKay, Jeremy Krzys and Ray Six.
“We’re hoping to have a pretty strong team. This is our third year back coaching with the kids,” Wiley said.