Wrapping up the State Basketball Tournament


Some final thoughts on the boys high school basketball tournament and the high school season. 

It was tremendous fun to see the Class-AAA bracket play out like it did with two lower seeds in the final.    Most observers of high school basketball in the state though it would be wide open with no heavy favorite and that proved to be the case.

7th seed Hedgesville knocked off 5th seed George Washington in Saturday night’s finale.   Hedgesville won the game 33-32 despite being shut out 7-0 in the first quarter.   Senior Phillip Largent, who had struggled shooting under 50% from the foul line on the season, hit the game winning free throw in the final seconds.  

Both Hedgesville and George Washington had lost in sectional tournament play only to go on the road to win regional games.   It’s the first time since the new format was implemented that two teams who lost in the sectionals got to the finals. 

The Class-A and Class-AA classifications played to form, at least according to the MetroNews AARP Power Index.  

The final Power Index had St. Mary’s, Charleston Catholic, Midland Trail and defending champion Madonna as the top four ranked teams and all of those teams played in the semi-finals.   Charleston Catholic beat St. Mary’s in the finals.  

After that game, St. Mary’s coach Mark Barnhart had some of the classiest statements I’ve heard following a loss in the title game.   Barnhart talked about emphasizing sportsmanship and taking a life lesson from the disappointing loss.   I’ve always thought about how tough that live interview is for coaches moments after their teams lose the state championship.   All the coaches through the years have handled it well and Barnhart’s comments especially stood out. 

The MetroNews AARP Power Index also predicted the AA title game as it had Tug Valley in the top spot with Bluefield second.  Tug Valley beat Bluefield for the championship .   Tug Valley was one of the smallest AA schools in the state and, in fact, the Panthers will drop to Single-A next year.   Tug not only won the AA state championship but beat AAA state tournament qualifiers South Charleston and Logan along the way.   

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