HUNTINGTON – The 2016 The Herald-Dispatch All-Tri-State girls high school basketball team is so talented it features two state players of the year.
Huntington High’s Jordyn Dawson won the Ostrowski Award as the West Virginia player of the year. Ironton’s Lexie Barrier was the top player in Ohio Division III.
Selecting one of them as the newspaper’s Tri-State Girls Player of the Year was difficult, but by the narrowest of margins the honor went to Dawson, a 5-foot-10 junior who averaged 20.1 points, 13.2 rebounds and 7.3 steals per game to help the Highlanders to a 26-3 record and a runner-up finish in the Class AAA state championship game.
She doesn’t like to talk about it, and honestly, I don’t think she knows how good she really is yet," Huntington High coach Lonnie Lucas said of Dawson, who is quiet off the court. “When she decides to flip that switch, she can go to another level that other players simply can’t get to.”
Barrier led the Fighting Tigers to a runner-up finish in the Ohio state tournament. The 5-foot-11-inch senior averaged 18.1 points and 13 rebounds per game in helping Ironton to a 27-1 record. She signed to play at James Madison University.
“Lexie is everything you’re looking for in a player,” said Ironton’s Doug Graham, the Tri-State Girls Coach of the Year. “She’s a good student, she’s a hard worker and she’s a team player.”
Graham won Coach of the Year honors against stiff competition that included Lucas; Huntington St. Joe’s Shannon Lewis, who took his team to the Class A finals; Fairland’s Jon Buchanan, whose team went 20-4; and Russell’s Mandy Layne, who guided the Red Devils to the 16th Region title and a berth in the Kentucky Sweet 16.
Dawson’s teammates, 5-8 senior guard Dazha Congleton and 5-9 senior center Ericka Budd, made the All Tri-State first team. Congleton scored 16 points per game while Budd averaged 11 points and 11 rebounds.
Huntington St. Joe placed two players, 5-6 senior guard Mychelle Johnson and 5-10 sophomore guard Alexis Hall, on the squad. Johnson averaged 6.2 points, 5.8 assists and 3.6 steals, but her game is greater than the sum of her statistics. The Class A all-state first team selection signed with Middle Tennessee.
Hall averaged 11.1 points, 5.8 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals per game.
Joining Barrier, Dawson and Johnson as returnees on the All Tri-State first team is Ashland 5-6 sophomore guard Mykassa Robinson, who averaged 18.8 points and 6.6 rebounds. Robinson is regarded by scouting services as one of the top 10 sophomore prospects in the nation.
Fairland’s Emily Chapman is another standout sophomore who is already receiving scholarship offers. The 5-5 guard averaged 15 points, 4.1 rebounds, 4.3 assists and 3.8 steals per game.
Rounding out the first team are a pair of Wayne County players. Spring Valley senior Karlee Alderman, a 5-9 guard who has signed to play softball at Ohio University and captained the Class AAA all-state second team, and Wayne’s Aeriel Adkins, a 5-10 sophomore forward who made Class AA all-state after averaging 13.6 points, 11.2 rebounds, 2.9 steals and 2.8 blocked shots.
The All Tri-State second team is nearly as potent as the first unit. The squad features Chesapeake senior Kaylee Curry, one of the region’s more versatile players as a forward, post and guard. She is joined on the second team by outstanding guards: Cabell Midland senior Haley Haggerty, Poca junior Casey Skeens; Tolsia freshman Dena Jarrells; Huntington High senior Lexi Sheffield; Huntington St. Joe freshman Paige Shy; Ironton senior Sydney Webb; and Boyd County freshman Savannah Wheeler.
By TIM STEPHENS