CHARLESTON, W.Va — The boys basketball state tournament officially gets underway this week in Charleston, capping off the high school basketball season in the state.
This year, there will be new state champions in Class AAA and Class A as Martinsburg (AAA) and Tug Valley (A) weren’t able to make it back to Charleston to defend their titles. Bluefield, meanwhile, will be looking to defend its title as the third seed this year in Class AA.
No. 1 Washington comes in with an unblemished 24-0 record and will put its streak on the line against No. 8 Morgantown (15-10).
The Patriots come in averaging 88 points a game after making it to the semifinals a year ago. Dominique Newman leads Washington, putting up just under 21 points per game. A title for Washington would be the school’s first.
No. 2 South Charleston (24-1) comes into the tournament riding a 20 game win streak as the Black Eagles drew No. 7 Hurricane (19-6) in the Class AAA quarterfinals. The Black Eagles handled the Redskins 74-62 in their only meeting on the year, and most think that they are the biggest challenger to Washington this year. Brandon Knapper and Kentre Grier provide a solid sophomore backcourt for South Charleston, while 6-foot-5 big man Anthony Billings gives the Black Eagles a significant presence inside.
No. 3 Hedgesville (18-5) will play No. 6 Parkersburg South (19-6) at 7:15 p.m. on Thursday in the Class AAA quarterfinals. The Eagles, who won the 2012 state championship, could be a very dangerous team as three of their five losses have come to Washington. The Patriots, after starting off the season 10-0, cooled off a bit in the middle of the season, but have turned it around of late, winning four straight coming into the state tournament.
In what may be the most anticipated game of the quarterfinals, No. 4 George Washington (19-6) will take on No. 5 Huntington (20-4). The Patriots are led by the state’s leading scorer, Jon Elmore who puts in just over 30 points a night and has been on a tear in the postseason. In the three games leading up to the tournament, he’s poured in 105 combined points.
No. 1 Robert C. Byrd (22-0) comes in undefeated as the Flying Eagles look to build on a semifinals appearance from a year ago. RCB will take on No. 8 East Fairmont (11-13) in the quarterfinals on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. Robert C. Byrd took down East Fairmont 69-55 in the two teams’ only matchup this season back in January.
No. 2 Poca (24-1) will square off against No. 7 Fairmont Senior (15-9) on Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. The Dots have reeled of 22 straight wins since a heart-breaking 56-50 loss to RCB in the third game of the season. A couple of freshmen, Elijah Cuffee and Lukas Frampton, have been a lethal combination with junior Matt Chandler as the Dots look to win their first title since 1997. Fairmont Senior, meanwhile, got hot at the right time, winning five straight and 10 of 12.
Defending state champion, No. 3 Bluefield (22-2), will start its title defense against No. 6 Chapmanville (20-5) in the opening game on Wednesday at 9:30 a.m. The Beavers should have the experience factor in this matchup as the bulk of their title team from last year, Chapmanville is making its first ever appearance at the state tournament in school history. Bluefield has won 15 straight games with those two losses coming to Westside (62-57) and Greenbrier East (67-51). The Tigers, meanwhile, come in having won eight straight games overall.
The four-five matchup features No. 4 Westside (18-6) against No. 5 Bridgeport (18-7). Westside played through a bruising schedule and came through its section over rival Wyoming East who saw its season end in the regionals at Bluefield. All five of Westside’s starters have been putting up double figures on the year, led by Corey Bowles and Justin Cogar. For Bridgeport, Mike Robey has done a terrific job in his first season at the helm, taking over for the veteran Gene Randolph. The Indians returned three starters this year from last year’s state semifinal team.
Class A may be the most wide open of the three classes, as there is plenty of parity among the final eight. No. 1 Wheeling Central (22-3) will take on No. 8 Parkersburg Catholic (16-8) in the Class A quarterfinals on Thursday at 5:30 p.m. The Maroon Knights come in riding a 13 game win streak, including a 59-45 win over the Crusaders during that span.
No. 2 Notre Dame (20-4) will see a familiar foe in the quarterfinals, as the Irish will play No. 7 Tucker County (17-6) for the fourth time on the year. The Irish have taken two-of-three from Tucker, including a 37-35 win most recently in the sectionals – but the Mountain Lions are hoping to get the one that matters the most this week.
No. 3 Charleston Catholic (19-6) will be looking to send off long-time coach Bill McClanahan on top in his final trip to the state tournament, as he announced he will be retiring after this season. His Irish will be taking on No. 6 Valley (Fayette) (22-3), who took care of defending state champion Tug Valley 82-63 in the regionals.
No. 4 Clay-Battelle (20-5) will battle it out against No. 5 Greater Beckley Christian (18-5) on Thursday at 9:00 p.m. The Cee-Bees are one of the hottest teams coming into the tournament as they have reeled off 12 straight victories. The Crusaders started off the year with seven straight wins out of the gate. Despite losing all-state guard and veteran leader Keith Mullins from last year’s tournament team, GBC has made it back this season looking for a deeper run behind Elisha Kidd and Javonne Staunton-Bailey.