TAYLOR COUNTY— A local program, two-years in the making, has recently concluded its inaugural season and surpassed all expectations.
Back in 2019, Grafton High School Girls Basketball Head Coach Andrew Moore expressed his desire to create an all-girls youth league for the area, giving the young lady ballers in the area an equal opportunity to build their fundamental skills before heading into school aged play.
Unfortunately, the outbreak of the Coronavirus pandemic forced Moore to put his plans on hold.
Despite the delay, in September 2021, the dedication Moore had to the creation of the program persevered and Alley Cat registration was opened.
The league invited area females in grades two through six to be a part of the organization, and while he knew that there was a need in the area, the turn out blew him away, revealing that upon completion of registration, the league had nearly 60 girls sign up.
“I was blown away by the number of girls that had committed to playing,” Moore expressed. “We had registered 59 girls, ranging from second to sixth grade. I am thankful for the parents of these young ladies, as they have made a commitment to their child, as well.”
With a goal of building a stronger foundation for the middle and high school programs to expand on, the interest in the league allowed them to yield seven teams: two each for the second and fifth and sixth grade divisions, and three in the third and fourth grade category.
The Alley Cats entered play in December in the North Central West Virginia All Girls League, playing most of their contests in Morgantown against teams from the surrounding areas.
“I am very pleased with all the girls’ efforts for our teams. We didn’t know what to expect heading into this league because we have a lot of players that were inexperienced with the game, but they worked really hard and had some great coaching that led to some success from our teams,” Moore shared.
The Alley Cats second grade team, coached by Sam Leach, finished the season second in their division, while the third/fourth grade team of Julie Dowdy and Jarrod Mlinarcik ended in third place in the B division.
Additionally, the third/firth grade Alley Cat team coached by Eric Maier and Bartsel Keener earned a top finish coming in at fourth in the B division, while Theo Frey and Frank King’s group of fifth and sixth grade Cats also finished in fourth place in the B division.
Moore noted that the fifth and sixth grade coaches, Fry, King and Jonathan Curran did an excellent job helping to prepare the age group for middle school basketball.
While third and fourth grade coaches, Keener, Maier, Dowdy, Doug Kirkpatrick and Sean Trickett led their teams through one of the toughest divisions in the league.
Moore added that there were 16 other teams in the third/fourth grade division making it a very competitive group.
Both second grade Alley Cats played in a four-on-four league, but coaches Kyle Lantz, Leach and Matt Holley worked together diligently to ensure all the kids were gaining experience and getting better.
“I can’t thank all these coaches enough for their time and dedication to helping these girls learn the game,” expressed Moore. “I have known all these coaches for a long time and know that each and every one of them have the girls’ best interest in mind. We saw great improvement out of everyone this season.”