Local basketball players take part in national AAU tournaments


GRAFTON—Even though the high school basketball season has officially come to an end for the Lady Cats basketball team, three of Grafton’s own continue to work on their skills in the offseason.

Seniors Bailey Toothman and Jocelyn Countryman, and sophomore Meredith Maier are all participating on the AAU circuit for local teams.

Toothman and Countryman are members of the WV Explosion, an AAU team based in Morgantown and coached by Rick Hill. According to their website, the West Virginia Explosion “is a basketball club that travels the Mid-Atlantic Region to gain experience and exposure for players age 9 to 18 years old who are not committed to a collegiate program.”

“This is the first year for this 16U group and although most don’t come from big schools, they have made great strides playing against some very tough competition,” stated Explosion Head Coach Rick Hill. “They lost in the championship game of the first tournament they played together to a team that their coach informed me had not been beaten in two years.”

When asked to elaborate about his team’s character and the direction of the program, Hill added, “the one thing I can say about this group of girls is that they have the determination to succeed. For us it’s not about winning every game, it’s about improving every game. It’s about working hard to prepare these kids for the next level. Our goal as coaches is to get these athletes into colleges to continue their careers.”

Maier, another standout for the Grafton High School Lady Cats, is a member of the NCWV Swish, based in Harrison County and coached by Dave Sturm. “The North Central West Virginia Swish is a non-profit, competitive, girls’ basketball organization that allows 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and high school girls from throughout North Central West Virginia the opportunity to play competitive basketball against some of the top players from West Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, and Delaware,” according to the Swish’s website.

The Explosion will be heading to Pittsburgh, PA on June 21st to take part in the Adidas Summer Slam. “We joined the Adidas family about seven years ago which also helps in the recruiting process,” Hill revealed. “Since joining Adidas, the Explosion has won four national tournaments.”

In addition to the Explosion heading to Pittsburgh for two upcoming tournaments, Maier and the NCWV Swish will be heading to Pigeon Forge, TN on June 12th to participate in the Sports Illustrated National Tournament.

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