NEWTOWN — A lot has changed over the course of the past year for the Mingo Central girls’ basketball program.
In December of 2018 third-year coach Brandon Ball resigned as head coach and was replaced by interim head coach Nathaniel Siggers for the remainder of the season. Siggers was an assistant for Ball.
Then in February, the administration at MCHS officially hired the new head coach for the Lady Miners, as they named former Burch standout and Division I player Kim Davis-Smith.
Since then, Davis-Smith has worked tirelessly to change the culture around the girls’ program program at MCHS and is excited about the future on Miner Mountain.
“I’m very excited, I am just thrilled to get this opportunity,” Davis-Smith said. “I have a great group of kids...I’m excited about creating a program that is respected throughout the state. I was part of one of the only girls’ state championship teams here in Mingo County, so I am looking forward to kind of emulate what we did at Burch and kind of bring that here.”
Davis-Smith takes over a team that went 6-17 last season and lost second leading scorer Savannah Hinton and multi-year starter Cassidy Cline to graduation.
However they return a good core of upperclassmen, bolstered by the return of senior guard Ziah Rhodes, and welcome solid freshman class according to the first-year head coach.
“I really have a solid group of upperclassmen this year, along with a couple of juniors that are going to be huge contributors and some freshmen that are coming up. I have pretty much every piece of the puzzle, at every position,” Davis Smith said.
The Lady Miners return their leading scorer from a season ago as Scarlett Thomasson (14 ppg.) returns after she made a name for herself across the Cardinal Conference as one of the top 3-point shooters in the league this past season.
Thomasson routinely would bury five-plus 3s in a game and even hit eight long balls when she erupted for 33 points against Scott. Previous coach Nathaniel Siggers referred to her as “Gilbert’s own Steph Curry” because of her shooting abilities she displayed last season.
“Scarlett is a great player, she’s really had some great practices for us so far,” Davis-Smith said of her sharp-shooter. “We’ve been trying to work on some of those aspects of her game that she needs to work on and she’s been very receptive to that.”
Rhodes returns to the hardwood this season after not playing in her junior year, however she was a key contributor for the Lady Miners in both her freshman and sophomore seasons and helped lead them to the school’s only sectional title in 2017.
She averaged 16 points, eight rebounds, and four assists per game as a sophomore and was named to the All-Cardinal Conference team. She is a tremendous athlete, also qualifying for the State Track Meet two years ago.
“Ziah is also back for us this year and Jenna Wagoner transferred here from Tug Valley, and she can handle the ball so we are excited about that,” Davis Smith said. That will allow Ziah to be a little more free as a guard to be able to do what she does offensively and not have the pressure of being the sole point guard.”
Wagoner was the “6th-man” a season ago for the 17-win Tug Valley Lady Panthers and hit some big shots in key moments down the stretch of the season, including the sectional championship win over Tolsia. She is expected to have a much bigger role this season for the Lady Miners.
Seniors Maliyah Martin and Zoe Evans are also back for Mingo Central after the pair started in nearly every game for the past three seasons. Martin averaged eight points. and 10 rebounds a year ago while Evans averaged five points and six assists.
“Maliyah was out for us the entire summer with an ACL injury but she is super athletic and able to rebound for us,” Davis Smith said of her senior. “Zoe has been a huge part of the program the past few years and her role was different last year. We expect to utilize her in a different way this year in what is her more natural role. And then we have some great freshman coming up, Madyson Curry is a solid post player and can hit 3’s. Megan Adkins is a freshman guard for us will come in and play good minutes. We really have every piece of the puzzle to be successful, and I think we are going to surprise some people.”
Davis-Smith said she and her staff have worked hard on trying to teach her team to hold themselves accountable, on and off the court, to help better prepare them for their future after basketball.
“The big thing for me is creating some accountability for these kids. We’ve been working on character development, we’ve started a character development notebook. We’re setting goals, weekly goals, monthly goals, and of course end of season goals. Getting to Charleston, that’s our ultimate goal. These seniors, they had a successful freshman year so they have some success and we definitely want to finish their senior year off on a good note.”
Coach Davis-Smith said she has brought a lot of the coaching strategies and team-building tools that she learned from her high school coaches at Burch, the late Bill Smith and his brother Mike Smith.
The new coach said she has also tried to start a strong connection between the high school program and the four middle school programs and. They have a “showcase” event planned on Jan. 25 where all of the feeder school’s will get to play in a game in the MCHS Gymnasium on the same day, followed by a game between MCHS and Man as the nightcap.
Since Davis-Smith was hired, the girls locker room has been remodeled and was painted for the first time since the school was built. They also have new uniforms and new practice jerseys this season.
The Lady Miners will play a challenging schedule in the new season that features the tough Cardinal Conference slate of games as well as non-conference games against perennial power Summer’s County, East Fairmont, North Laurel (Ky.), Man, Lincoln County, and Tug Valley.
They also are set to play in the Little General Shootout at West Virginia State University against the Scott Skyhawks in a rare 8:30 a.m. tip-off.
“We really wanted to play in that. we have a really early start time but I was able to get us in that and I just told them, ‘Hey, I don’t care what time we play, we just want to play,” Davis Smith said. “I want our kids to go and stay in a hotel and have the experience of going somewhere and staying overnight just like we would in March.”
The Lady Miners will tip-off the 2019-20 regular season on Dec. 5 in a home contest against Cardinal Conference foe Sissonville. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. on Miner Mountain.
2019-20 Mingo Central Girls’ Roster
# Name Positions Gr. Ht
00 Ragan Marcum G So. 5-5
1 Chelsee Mollett G, PF Jr. 5-7
2 Hannah Smith G Jr. 5-5
3 Keyanna Smith G Fr. 5-1
5 Kailey Fields G Fr. 5-5
10 Megan Adkins G Fr. 5-7
11 Ziah Rhodes G, PG Sr. 5-8
12 Jenna Wagoner PG, G Jr. 5-6
13 Scarlett Thomason SG, G Jr. 5-10
15 Zoe Evans G, PF Sr. 5-10
22 Alyssa Davis G, PF Fr. 5-9
23 Harlee Vance G Fr. 5-8
24 Madisyn Curry PF, C Fr. 5-10
30 Lexie Hager G Fr. 5-5
32 Maliyah Martin F, C Sr. 5-10
52 Laikyn Hinkle PF So. 5-8
2019-20 Mingo Central Lady Miners Basketball Schedule
12/05 7:30 p.m. H — Sissonville
12/07 2:00 p.m. A — Nitro
12/11 7:30 p.m. H — Chapmanville Regional High School
12/14 1:00 p.m. H — Winfield
12/20 6:30 p.m. A — North Laurel (Ky) [At Pike Central, Ky]
12/21 2:00 p.m. A — Poca
12/30 7:30 p.m. H — Logan
01/04 Tbapm A — East Fairmont (At Logan)
01/08 7:00 p.m. H — Chapmanville Regional High School
01/11 7:00 p.m. A — Man High School
01/14 6:00 p.m. H — Wayne
01/17 Tbapm A — Lincoln County High School
01/20 Tbapm A — Scott
01/21 6:00 p.m. A — Tug Valley
01/25 7:30 p.m. H — Man High School
01/28 Tbapm A — Herbert Hoover
01/31 7:30 p.m. H — Lincoln County High School
02/01 7:30 p.m. H — Tug Valley
02/06 7:00 p.m. A — Wayne
02/08 3:00 p.m. H — Summers County High School
02/10 8:30Am A — Scott (At Wv State)
02/17 7:00 p.m. A — Logan
55 Makeisha Harness F Fr. 5-9