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Cabell Midland returns to the state tournament with 65-56 win at Parkersburg

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Five Knights scored in double figures as Cabell Midland held off a fourth quarter surge to defeat Parkersburg, 65-56 in the Class AAAA Region IV co-finals.

Cabell Midland (12-3) led by as many as 16 points in the second quarter but a 10-0 Parkersburg run to start the fourth quarter gave the Big Reds a 52-50 lead. The Knights however scored the final 10 points of the game over the final three minutes.

“They got up by one and in that last 2:43, they didn’t score again. We picked up our defense the rest of the way and we made free throws at the end,” said Cabell Midland head coach Matt Adkins.

Autumn Lewis led a balanced Knights attack, scoring 14 points. Jazmyn Wheeler scored a dozen, Sophi Aldridge added 11 and Jayda Allie and KK Potter scored 10 each.

“That is what we have been looking for all year. That’s what we had last year with five in double figures. They have been coming around the last few games so I am really proud of them.”

Cabell Midland returns to the state tournament with the majority of their squad back from the one that fell to University in the quarterfinal round last March. The Knights are the No. 2 seed and will face Jefferson in the quarterfinal round next Thursday at 1 p.m.

“It is a big deal, especially for our lone senior, Autumn. We want another chance at it. I think we have one of the better teams. It just depends on if they come in and play. It is exciting for the kids.”

Brilynn Florence led the Big Reds (10-9) with 18 points. Kisten Roberts added 11 points.

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Girls Class AAAA & A state tournament pairings

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Sixteen more teams have qualified for the WVSSAC Class A girls basketball state tournament. Competition begins Tuesday, April 27 and concludes with the championship games Saturday, May 1.

Class AAAA seeds:

  1. Huntington (13-1)
  2. Cabell Midland (12-3)
  3. George Washington (13-3)
  4. Morgantown (11-2)
  5. Wheeling Park (15-3)
  6. Woodrow Wilson (13-4)
  7. Jefferson (12-0)
  8. Martinsburg (8-4)

Class AAAA schedule:

Quarterfinals:

Game 1 – No. 3 George Washington vs. No. 6 Woodrow Wilson – Thursday, 9:30 a.m.

Game 2 – No. 2 Cabell Midland vs. No. 7 Jefferson – Thursday, 1 p.m.

Game 3 – No. 1 Huntington vs. No. 8 Martinsburg – Thursday, 5:30 p.m.

Game 4 – No. 4 Morgantown vs. No. 5 Wheeling Park – Thursday, 9:00 p.m.

Semifinals:

Game 5 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner – Friday, 5:30 p.m.

Game 6 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner – Friday, 9:00 p.m.

Championship:

Game 7 – Final – Saturday, 8 p.m.

 

Class A seeds:

  1. Tug Valley (12-2)
  2. Cameron (16-1)
  3. Calhoun County (13-3)
  4. Tucker County (16-4)
  5. Webster County (14-2)
  6. River View (15-2)
  7. Madonna (9-8)
  8. Pendleton County (6-4)

Quarterfinals:

Game 1 – No. 3 Calhoun County vs. No. 6 River View – Tuessday, 9:30 a.m.

Game 2 – No. 2 Cameron vs. No. 7 Madonna – Tuesday, 1 p.m.

Game 3 – No. 1 Tug Valley vs. No. 8 Pendleton County – Tuesday, 5:30 p.m.

Game 4 – No. 4 Tucker County vs. No. 5 Webster County – Tuesday, 9:00 p.m.

Semifinals:

Game 5 – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner – Thursday, 11:15 a.m.

Game 6 – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner – Thursday, 7:15 a.m.

Championship:

Game 7 – Final – Saturday, 10 a.m.

All 56 state basketball tournament games will feature radio broadcasts on the MetroNews Radio Network and at wvmetronews.com. All 8 championship games will feature HD video broadcasts as well.

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Monongalia County law enforcement looking to maintain rank numbers

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — Law enforcement organizations in Monongalia County are working to increase interest in serving on departments.

Monongalia County Sheriff Perry Palmer said he believes last year’s protests over systemic racism and Tuesday’s guilty verdict in the Derek Chauvin case have discouraged some people from pursuing a career in law enforcement.

“A lot of the people that at one time wanted to be police officers just don’t think it’s worth it,” he said.

“There a few bad apples in this line of duty, but that’s not to take away from the 98% or 99% of the other ones trying to do the right thing, and I think our county knows that.”

Morgantown Police Chief Eric Powell notes there has been a steady interest in department positions, although enrollment is down slightly because of attrition and retiring officers.

“Maybe we can speed that process up as far as getting new people in and getting all the necessary background investigations they need to go through before being offered the position,” he said.

The Monongalia County Sheriff’s Office will hold a testing event for people interested in being a deputy on May 1. Candidates who pass an agility test will be offered an opportunity to take a written test later that day.

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Wellsburg Bridge completion delayed until next week

WELLSBURG, W.Va. — The completion of the Wellsburg Bridge project has been delayed until next week.

The West Virginia Department of Transportation announced Wednesday work is set to end next Monday and Tuesday. Officials had planned for construction to end Friday and Saturday of this week but previously warned of a delay related to river and wind conditions.

The state awarded Flatiron Construction, a national construction company headquartered in Colorado, a $131 million bid for the project in 2016. Crews built the tied-arch bridge entirely offsite. It will be transported by barge one mile down the Ohio River and lifted into place.

Once completed, the Wellsburg Bridge will connect state Route 2 in Wellsburg and Ohio Route 7 in Brilliant, Ohio.

The bridge float and lift process is scheduled to begin Monday at 8:30 a.m., in which the bridge will be floated to the middle of the river before being floated downriver between the related piers. Crews will lift the bridge to the necessary height early Tuesday morning before pushing it upstream and lowering the bridge on the piers.

A livestream of the bridge float will be available at https://bit.ly/3dBUv7E.

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Woman dies after being struck by vehicle in Logan County

VERNER, W.Va. — A Mingo County woman was struck and killed by a vehicle Wednesday morning in Logan County.

The Logan County Sheriff’s Department said Priscella Cline-Smith, 62, of Verner, was struck along state Route 80 near Paradise Island.

The driver of the vehicle that hit Cline-Smith said she was in the northbound lane near a disabled tractor trailer that had its emergency lights on.

Deputies are continuing their investigation.

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Darris Nichols nets first head coaching opportunity at Radford

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — A decade into his coaching career, former WVU point guard Darris Nichols is headed home. Nichols was introduced Wednesday as the new head coach at Radford University. The school is located in Nichols’ hometown of Radford, Va.

“Have I had my eyes on it? Yes, I am not going to lie,” Nichols said.

Before officially agreeing to become the new head coach of the Highlanders, Nichols needed to call home first to let his mother know the news.

“She said, ‘Oh, you are coming home?’ I said yes and she said, ‘What are you doing in town? How long are you in for?’ And I said, ‘However long they will have me. I don’t know’. It is special to be able to come back and see my parents. That is an early Mother’s Day present.

“Home has been where the basketball bounces for a long period of time. This one is different. Regardless where the ball bounces or not, this is home.”

Bob Huggins greets Darris Nichols at the WVU Coliseum.

Nichols played three seasons for John Beilein at WVU and he was Bob Huggins’ first point guard with the Mountaineers. He played on an NIT Championship team (2007), an Elite Eight team (2005) and a pair of Sweet 16 teams (2006 & 2008).

“With John Beilein, he is an unbelievable story teller. Every offense and defense we ran, there was a story behind it. That stuck with me to this day. With Bob Huggins, just how relentless he was on you every day. He is going to push you to the limit and get more out of you than you thought you had.”

Nichols has been an assistant coach with the Florida Gators since 2015. He has also coached at Louisiana Tech, Wofford, Northern Kentucky and WVU. Nichols takes over a Radford program that has posted a record of 81-47 over the last four seasons.

“The things I have learned, especially from my mom and dad, never complain. I don’t complain and I have never heard them complain. My dad has worked two jobs. My mom has worked two jobs. They never complained. So my teams, we are not going to complain.

“I want to be a direct correlation of this community. The two things I think of when I think of the city of Radford and Radford University are edge and humility. Whether it is on or off the court, we have to walk with humility.”

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DePaul transfer Pauly Paulicap commits to West Virginia

West Virginia’s men’s basketball team is set to add another player from the NCAA Transfer Portal — one the Mountaineers will likely expect a lot from defensively.

Pauly Paulicap, a 6-foot-8 senior forward, offered his commitment to West Virginia on Wednesday.

💛💙🏠#Committed



Edit by @jeremyberman32 pic.twitter.com/O2NrQAjnjU

— Pauly Paulicap (@pauly33_) April 21, 2021

Paulicap most recently played one season at DePaul, where he averaged 7.2 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.3 blocks.

Prior to joining the Blue Demons, Paulicap played three seasons at Manhattan. He was the MAAC Defensive Player of the Year as a freshman after averaging 2.5 blocks and 6.9 rebounds to go with 10 points.

Along with 6-foot-9 Florida International transfer Dimon Carrigan, Paulicap appears to help fill an immediate void for the Mountaineers as a rim protector.

After an injury limited Paulicap to 10 games in his second season with the Jaspers, he returned to play a full 2019-2020 season and averaged a career-best 10.4 points, 6.6 rebounds and 1.9 blocks.

The 225-pound Paulicap shot better than 55 percent from the field as a freshman and most recently at DePaul.

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Justice counts on persuading more West Virginians to get vaccinated

Gov. Jim Justice says he has a new mantra to represent the importance of persuading thousands of West Virginians who seem reluctant to get a covid-19 vaccine.

“Beat 588 bad,” Justice said at a briefing today. “That’s my next goal, and that’s what we’ll do.”

He said the number 588,000 represents 40 percent of West Virginia’s population that is eligible for covid-19 vaccination.

“We must reach these people and encourage them to take the vaccine,” Justice said.

West Virginia has administered at least one dose to 687,045 people, according to the state’s coronavirus response dashboard. The state says 520,206 people have been fully vaccinated.

But state and local officials agree that the pace of vaccination has slowed. 

West Virginia’s population is almost 1.8 million. The governor has described about 400,000 state residents below age 16, which is the current cutoff age for vaccination eligibility.

So today he described a total vaccine-eligible population of 1.47 million people.

If 40 percent don’t want to be vaccinated, that would be 588,000 people.

Justice said he doubts the number of people who are resistant to taking the vaccine is as high as 40 percent, though.

“I hope and pray that it’s not right,” the governor said. “From a math standpoint, if we’ve got 588,000 people who are denying the vaccine no matter what then we’re at the end of the rainbow as far as people willing to take the vaccine that are going to come unless we can change their minds. That’s what we need to continue to work on.

“We’ve got at least a population out there that needs our help to try to get them information to where they can feel comfortable to take the vaccine.”

Justice also tried to clarify a changed state guideline about wearing facial coverings while exercising in a public place.

Earlier this week, the governor eliminated the 91 executive orders he had instituted over the course of the pandemic and replaced some continuing state guidance into one new executive order.

The updated guidance adds an exemption to the statewide indoor face covering requirement “so that, if you are actively engaged in physical activity like indoor sports, you do not need to wear a face covering.”

Responding to a couple of questions, Justice tried to describe how that would work in real life situations.

At gyms, people may have a hard time breathing through facial coverings if they are working out, Justice said. So, he said, people actively engaged in exercise would not be expected to wear a mask.

“As soon as you get through with the hard level of exercise,” he said, “without any question I expect you to have your mask back on.”

The governor, who coaches high school girls basketball, was also asked how the change might affect organized sports. He said athletes who are actively competing wouldn’t be expected to wear facial coverings. But he said coaches, staff and reserves on a team should still wear masks.

“That coach isn’t running up and down the floor. The kids on the bench aren’t running up and down the floor,” he said. “We absolutely expect those players to be able to wear their masks, as the coaches should.”

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Extensive testimony expected in upcoming Kanawha County murder trial

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Kanawha County prosecutors say it could take at least five days to present evidence against a Clendenin man to a jury in trial that is scheduled to begin Monday.

Joshua Drennen was charged in February 2020.

Joshua Drennen, 28, faces 10 criminal counts including murder, robbery, malicious wounding and carjacking, in connection with a violent crime spree on Charleston’s West Side on Feb. 11, 2020.

During a pretrial hearing Wednesday, Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Michelle Drummond told Kanawha County Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey the state has several days of testimony to present to the jury once the panel is chosen.

“I believe that we anticipate a week,” Drummond said. “Of course a lot depends on cross-examination. We can’t estimate what that will be but our thought for our case is a week.”

Drennen’s attorney John Sullivan told Bailey he expects extensive testimony tied to a mental illness defense that he will present on behalf of Drennen.

“We’re putting on mental illness defense that’s going to take extra testimony and both sides have psychologists that are going to testify,” he said.

Drennen allegedly murdered Barbara Steele, 77, in her West Side home. Drennen then allegedly carjacked a vehicle at the nearby Walgreens parking lot. Police said he then attempted another carjacking before encountering Charleston Patrolman Terrence “Austin” Casto near the Washington Street Go-Mart. Drennen allegedly attacked Casto with a flat iron before Casto shot him.

Bailey did approve a defense motion Wednesday that will separate the guilt phase of the trial from the mercy phase. Sullivan made the motion based on possible testimony from Drennen.

“It is unlikely that he would testify at the trial, the guilt phase of the trial, but if there was a mercy determination made, it’s likely he would testify as to that issue,” Sullivan said.

Drennen, who is currently housed at the Western Regional Jail in Barboursville because of COVID-19 issues at the South Central Regional Jail, will be tested for COVID-19 before the trial begins next week, following an order entered by Bailey.

Bailey also told Sullivan and Drummond to work together on the list of potential jurors to remove those who expressed issues with COVID in a juror questionnaire.

“There were a number of responses from (potential) jurors who had great concerns regarding their health and regarding COVID exposure,” Sullivan said.

Jury selection is scheduled to begin Monday morning. The trial will take place in the Ceremonial Courtroom at the Kanawha County Courthouse in downtown Charleston.

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Justice signs three more bills into law

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Gov. Jim Justice continues to sign bills into law following the 2021 regular legislative session.

On Wednesday, Justice held a virtual signing ceremony that included three bills going into law: SB 634– Requiring training of certain officers for persons with autism spectrum disorder; HB 2263– Update the regulation of pharmacy benefit managers; SB 714– Relating to physician assistant (PA) practice act.

“SB 634 requires law enforcement and correctional officers to be trained on the best ways to interact with those who have autism,” Justice said.

Mark Ellison, the Director of Autism Training at Marshall, said only two states require autism-specific training for officers and this would put the state out in front of the world.

George Manahan, director of Charleston Parkinson’s Support Group spoke about HB 2263. He said West Virginia would be the first state to require drug discounts or rebates negotiated by insurance companies for patients to be passed on to the patient. The bill requires insurance companies and benefits managers to share savings they receive in the form of rebates from drug manufacturers.

“HB 2263 is a first in the nation legislation that will save West Virginians with commercial health insurance,” he said.

Justice said of HB 2263, “With this bill, West Virginia will lead the country in lowering prescription drug prices for many of our residents. I am honored to do my part to sign this bill that we can help thousands of West Virginians afford prescription drugs.”

SB 714 expands the scope of practice of a PA, allowing them more freedom to work with collaborating physicians with care in line with their education, training and experience, Dean Wright, Clinical Coordinator at Marshall said.

“PAs working in collaboration with a physician. The whole development of the PA program and concept relates to the relationship with physicians. We are part of team practice before there was a team practice of medicine,” Wright said.

Wright said there are 140,000 PAs in the county but only 0.7% working in West Virginia. He expects that number to change based on this law.

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