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Prep Notebook: New year offers some intriguing matchups

Dec. 31, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

This week offers some intriguing matchups in boys and girls high school basketball.

On the girls side, the NAPA Auto Carecenters Fairland Hoops Classic will be held Saturday at Fairland's Carl York Center. Marietta takes on Huntington High at 5:30 p.m., Athens faces Chesapeake at 7 p.m. and Portsmouth West meets host Fairland at 8:30 p.m..

Notable players who will be on the court include Marietta's Erica Dawson, senior guard, 2011-12 Ohio Division II Player of the Year, Xavier recruit; Huntington High's Kiana Evans, senior guard, three-time West Virginia Class AAA first-team All-State, Marshall signee; Dominick Doseck of Athens, sophomore guard, 2011-12 Ohio Division II All-State; Fairland's Terra Stapleton, 2011-12 Ohio Division III first-team All-State, verbal commitment to Minnesota; and Portsmouth West's Tori Leader, senior forward, 2011-12 Ohio Division III second-team All-State, 25.7 average.

Four games are down for Saturday at the Ashland Kitten Shootout in Anderson Gym. The schedule has Perry County Central vs. Boyd County at noon, East Carter vs. Montgomery County at 1:30 p.m., Greenup County vs. Huntington St. Joe at 3:15 p.m. and Ashland vs. Fairview at 5:15 p.m.

There'll be plenty of players to watch, but three headliners are Huntington St. Joe's Mychal Johnson and host Ashland's Kaylyn Gambill and Alexis Robinson. Johnson is the Irish's top scorer and key reason the four-time West Virginia Class A champion is 7-1. Gambill, the school's career leader in three-pointers, averages 14.3 points a game. She's hit 27 shots from behind the arc compared to 15 2-pointers. Robinson, a sophomore, has a 15.5 average and has nailed 17 three-pointers.

Across the Ohio River on Saturday night, Ashland takes on rival Ironton at the Conley Center in a marquee encounter for boys.

On Friday night, one of the top games matches rivals Chesapeake and Fairland at Fairland's Carl York Center. Fairland will pay tribute to legendary coach Carl York and rename in the gym in his honor during halftime. The school's football stadium is known as Jim Mayo Stadium after the school's legendary football coach. That honor was bestowed in 2009.

York coached at Fairland from 1954 through 1978. He later coached at South Point. York's overall record was 423-159. His record at Fairland was 321-138. He had four 20-win seasons, seven Ohio Valley Conference titles, six sectionals, two district crowns and a regional championship. He was named to the Ohio High School Basketball Coaches' Hall of Fame in 1967 and the Naismith Memorial OHSAA Basketball Hall of Fame in 1997.

York played high school football and basketball at Mullens, W.Va. His basketball coach was Lewis D'Antoni. He originally played safety for the Marshall football team before an injury shortened his career. He switched to basketball and played for the legendary Cam Henderson. York died in 1994. He and wife Barbara had three daughters, Beverly, Sharon and Linda.

ATTENTION: Huntington St. Joe's Griffin Dempsey and Mychal Johnson got some nice ink during the Peach State Basketball Holiday Invitational in Atlanta. At peachstatebasketball.com, there's a Peach State Media Section. Johnson was Day Two Star as the junior scored 28 points in a 65-48 win over Mill Creek (Ga.). Dempsey was the Team EBA Feature Player for Dec. 26. Writer Chris Hansen talked about her strengths and areas to improve. Part three was the Bottom Line where he said she'll be an overachiever at the next level.

DRAZBA DECIDES: Maggie Drazba, senior at St. Marys High School and arguably West Virginia's most accomplished runner in history, has made a commitment to continue her cross country and track career at West Virginia University. She's a three-time West Virginia Class AA/A champion in cross country. She won her third cross country title in October at Cabell Midland High School and went on to become the Mountain State's first prep female to qualify for the Foot Locker Nationals.

Drazba is two-time defending state champ in the 800, 1600 and 3200 and has the state record in each -- 2:20.35 for the 800, 4:56.23 for the 1600 and 10:59.09 for the 3200. Her best time in the mile is 4:53. She'll be a real asset for the Mountaineers, who now compete in the Big 12 Conference.

David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or dwalsh@herald-dispatch.com.