BLACKSVILLE — Clay-Battelle freshman Alivia Ammons will be in the gym about an hour before each game practicing her shot.
Lately, her pregame ritual has spread to the rest of the team — Ammons said they view it as a chance to get an edge on the competition.
“We take time out of our night to go and do it, just so we’re prepared for the game,” she said.
“I’ve been doing it all season, and it’s something the rest of the girls came at toward the middle of the season just to try and keep getting better.”
The Cee-Bees’ dedication to shooting stuck out Thursday night as they found the basket early and often en route to a 59-29 win against visiting Paw Paw.
“I don’t know what our shooting percentage was out there with our starting unit, but other than a couple of missed putbacks, I can’t imagine losing to any team we’ve lost to this year shooting like that,” C-B coach David Joyce said.
“The same girls that are going to be playing against Trinity Christian and Notre Dame in our sectional are the same girls that were making shots out there tonight. As far as a confidence boost — just seeing the ball go into the hole — that’s what tonight was for us.”
The win secured a first-place finish in Pod A of the West Virginia Girls’ Division 2 Hometown Invitational Tournament (WVHIT). They’ll advance to face Pod B champion Van at Tygarts Valley on Saturday.
After a 4-0 start, the Cee-Bees hit a skid, falling to 6-6 by mid-January. Their strong run in WVHIT play has renewed the team’s confidence, according to Joyce, with the win over Paw Paw marking their fourth-straight victory.
“We started to doubt ourselves, and we’ve lost some games we probably could have won,” Joyce said.
“If we can win this tournament on Saturday, we feel like we’ve made something out of the season to where we’re looking and feel more competitive and we’re learning.”
Ammons said a tournament championship would also provide an additional spark for the team as it tackles the final stretch of the season.
“I think it would help us a lot heading into OVACs, and it let’s us know that we can go out there and compete against any team,” Ammons said.
The WVHIT also provides an opportunity for small public schools to size up against similar competition from different sections and regions that they may not normally see, which Joyce said will pay dividends in the postseason.
“We end up traveling — Paw Paw came 2 1/2 hours, and we went 2 1/2 hours the other day. It’s teams from all across the state and teams you don’t normally get to see,” Joyce said.
“It’s four weekends out of your schedule that you’re committed — you know you’re playing somewhere. And when you see a Meadow Bridge or a Van, you get a feel for how good they are and how good that region is.”