PRINCETON — Like her fellow senior teammates, Princeton Senior High School girls’ basketball star Brittini McClung sadly watched a successful career as a Tigerette come to an end last Thursday afternoon.

But, when her team (18-8) lost an overtime thriller to Martinsburg in the quarterfinals of the Class AAA state tournament, the final buzzer ringing through the Charleston Civic Center did not signal the end of the 5-foot 9-inch forward’s days on the court. Wednesday, McClung signed a letter of intent to play basketball at the West Virginia University Institute of Technology, an NAIA Division I school in Montgomery.

“This has been my goal ever since I started playing in the sixth grade,” said McClung. “To play college basketball has been something I’ve always wanted; I strived for it, and my family strived for it. And now it’s finally here.”

McClung, one of five senior starters on this year’s PSHS team, averaged 11.2 points and 9 rebounds in the 2008-09 season. She says it was a fondness for WVU Tech’s coaching staff that motivated her to choose the program as her hoops destination for the next four years.

“I was really impressed with Coach Fout; I had a lot of fun with them when I went up there,” she said. “I liked the environment, and I like that it’s not too far from home.”

She’s looking forward to her future as a WVU Tech Golden Bear, but she says she will not soon forget the years she spent in a PSHS uniform. Her senior dominated team led Coach Debbie Ball’s program to the state tournament for the first time in 11 years last week, and McClung says that experience, along with others she shared with her teammates, helped her to reach her goal of becoming a collegiate athlete.

“Playing at Princeton made me a much stronger person, because we faced a lot of obstacles and overcame a lot,” she said. “We were really small this year, and we did a lot of things not a lot of people thought we could do.”

Fout agrees. The first-year WVU Tech head coach says the experience McClung gained in the PSHS program was one of the main reasons he worked to attract her to his program.

“I think she’s just a good solid, fundamental player, and she came from a winning program under a good coach,” he said. “She’s used to winning and working hard, and she’s a good student, too. She’s the type of person we want in our program, a good player, a good scholar, and a good citizen.”

Ball believes that McClung, a West Virginia Promise scholar heading into WVU Tech’s pre-dental program, has the ability to add much to the Golden Bears’ team next year.

“I think she’ll be able to go in to Tech and help them with both offense and rebounding,” she said. “If she doesn’t make an impact immediately, I know it will be soon after that.”

McClung is not the only senior Ball is losing to the collegiate hardwood this year. Already, Laura Whitt has signed an NCAA scholarship to play for High Point University, in North Carolina, and Amanda Smith has signed on with Concord University. Leading scorer Tesla Akers, who averaged 17.4 points this year as a 5-foot 4-inch guard, also plans to play at the next level but is still deciding what college she will attend. Their proud coach says the group’s rare success makes the end of their high school careers very bittersweet.

“I hate it, really,” she laughed. “No, they’ve really worked hard, this group, and they deserve to go on to the next level. They’ve done real well for three years, so really, I expected them to go on like this.”

— Contact CharLy Markwart at cmarkwart@ptonline.net.

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