Martinsburg, W.Va- Fortunes changed in Morgan County for the Paw Paw Pirates last season when they boasted their first winning season in three years.
The Pirates have followed that up with a 10-4 record to start this year’s campaign.
“We’re coming together as a team,” said head coach Adam Carder. “We struggled to find our way after losing our two senior big guys last year, but the camaraderie of this young team playing together and working hard together has yielded us good results.”
The school that produced the state’s leading scorer in Josh Delawder in 2000 has seen another guard emerge as a stat stuffer. Junior Donovan Tanouye is averaging 21 points, 8 rebounds, and nearly 6 assists per contest.
“It all starts with Donovan, when he comes out of the gate the kids feed off him.” Carder said. “God blessed him with talent and speed, he’s a good leader, humble, and a great asset to our team.”
Paw paw excelled in the post last season but graduated both forwards, this year the Pirates have transitioned to a more guard oriented lineup and the contributions from freshman Ayden Crabtree and sophomore Taylor Carder have been felt in a major way
“Crabtree has really stepped up.” Carder said. “I had no doubt he could do what he’s doing, I just didn’t know how early that would happen coming from middle school. I’m probably a better coach with a faster team so I like where we’re going and I hope we can excel late into the season.”
“Carder’s my son so he gets a double dose of coaching, he’s really stepped up as a ball handler.”
The Pirates still boast a capable post presence in Senior Grayson Corbett, who averages 11 points a game and Conner Williams.
“Grayson has really improved a lot with his decision making underneath.” said Carder.
Despite being the smallest school in their region and one of the smallest single A schools in the state, Paw Paw hopes to be a contender in this year’s post season as they embrace their small school mentality.
“I take a lot of pride in this school, I was born and raised here.” Carder said. “Our town revolves around this little school and that’s reflected by the crowd. Basketball is like our football. I try to instill in my players to be proud of their school. I think we are doing good things and I hope our program will do good things in the year to come.”