Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK ; Saunders Adds Inside Presence for Wyoming East

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

GIRLS PREP BASKETBALL NOTEBOOK ; Saunders Adds Inside Presence for Wyoming East

Article excerpt

The impressive season enjoyed by Wyoming East in 2014-15 ended a game short of the Warriors' plans. Instead of winning the school's first girls basketball state championship, East fell in overtime to Madison Jones, Karli Pinkerton and eventual Class AA champ Sissonville in the state tournament semifinals last season. A 8-0 start that includes wins over Class AAA No. 4 South Charleston (3- 1), rival Westside and a tough East Carter (5-2) team from Grayson, Kentucky, however, has indicated in part that last season was the beginning of a new era in Mountain State girls hoops.

While 5-foot-6 sophomore all-state point guard Gabby Lupardus is again leading the charge for East, it's an addition in the paint that might prove to be too much for opponents to overcome. Freshman forward-center Emily Saunders is an agile 6-4 player reminiscient of former Charleston Catholic star Mackenzie Maier, who won state player of the year honors in 2007 before she embarked on a successful career playing at High Point University.

"She adds a presence inside for us that takes a little bit of pressure off Gabby, East coach Angie Boninsegna said of Saunders. "We've got a bigger girl inside. Our players from last year were totally aggressive for their size, but it's a big advantage and it takes pressure off our guards.

It's not that East's guards were exactly struggling before. Lupardus averaged 18.4 points and 6.1 assists as a freshman. She had 35 points and six assists in the Warriors' 73-66 win over South Charleston in the FCA Hoops Classic last week.

Meanwhile, Saunders had 13 points, 18 rebounds and 10 blocked shots.

"Emily's improving each game, Boninsegna said. "She's stepping up and getting a little more aggressive. She's a young freshman, too.

Any explanation of the Warriors at this point would still have to include the word "young. Along with sophomore Lupardus and freshman Saunders, East started a trio of underclassmen against SC in 5-7 junior guard Megan Davis, 5-7 junior forward Allie Lusk and 5-4 sophomore guard Misa Quesenberry. …

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