Tuscarora Boys’ and Girls’ Basketball Teams Wrap Up Season With Historic State Runs

Both teams finished their seasons at the semi-final level after being crowned Region 4C champions

On March 6, the Tuscarora Boys’ and Girls’ basketball suffered defeat by E.C. Glass High School and Pulaski High School, respectively.

The Boys’ team put up a good fight, trailing by only 3 points at halftime with a score of 30-27. The final reflected a tough second half, finishing the contest with a score of 73-49.

The Girls’ fought back from an 8 point deficit in the 1st quarter to put up 23 points in the 2nd quarter, going into halftime with a 10 point lead. The Huskies fell just short of pulling through with a win, but Pulaski finished the job with a final score of 54-53.

“It was so devastating because it was the last, it was just closing a chapter of something that we’ve all been doing for our whole lives,” said senior Girls’ player Lillie Scheivert.

The State Semi-Final game represented a closing chapter for 5 players on the Girls’ team, all who held Varsity positions for the entirety of their high school careers. Only one will continue to play in college: Grace Middleton, who committed to Frostburg State University this past fall, just one month prior to scoring her 1,000th career point for Tuscarora basketball in a game vs Stone Bridge High School.

“I think we’ve built something great here… this is the best that Tusky Girls’ Basketball has ever had,” said Middleton.

The Middleton family has remained a strong presence in Girls’ Basketball at Tuscarora over the years. Grace Middleton experienced her first year of high school basketball alongside her sister, Isabellah Middleton, a 2020 Tuscarora graduate who now plays collegiate basketball for Slippery Rock University.

“I learned a lot from her and I think that she followed my older sister’s footsteps and I kind of followed both of theirs,” said Grace Middleton.

The Girls’ team relied on each other beyond a surface level of teamwork and support this season. “I think that it’s really our connection, our bond that got us this far,” said Middleton.

Despite such a devastatingly close finish, the girls were rewarded with numerous accolades thanks to their dedication and achievement. Junior Alysa Carrigan and Grace Middleton were recognized as First Team All Region players, with Middleton being recognized as Region 4C Player of the Year along with Coach Tayler Dodson earning Region 4C Coach of the Year.

“I was super excited. I kind of didn’t expect it, but I also worked really hard, so I was glad,” said Carrigan.

As for the Boys’ team, they overcame the hit of losing 56-47 going into regional play. 

“We were able to  correct that with the regional tournament the next week and win that first ever Boys’ Regional Championship,” said Coach Michael Newkirk.

Leadership and perseverance despite adversity remained a theme throughout the Boys’ regular and postseason play.

“They bought into it and put their signature towards it and that’s what ultimately made it special,” said Newkirk.

The Boys’ team was led by seniors Gavin O’Malley, Michael Davis, Malachi Bailey, Kurt Lesho, and Zack Rogers.

Gavin O’Malley earned 2nd Team All-State Honors alongside junior Jayden Johnson. Coach Newkirk was recognized as Region 4C Coach of the Year.

“We’re establishing a winning culture,” said O’Malley.

Despite coming up short in the State Semifinal, Tuscarora Boys’ Basketball has high hopes for next season.

“We feel like we got a little bit more up in the tank,” said Newkirk.

After strong and historic seasons, both Boys’ and Girls’ teams have promise and high goals for the 2023-24 season.