CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Championship Saturday has arrived, and four titles are up for grabs for the first time in state tournament history.
Then again, the final day of the season is in May, so it’s not the only first.
A look at each game in order of its start time at the Charleston Coliseum.
No. 1 Tug Valley (14-2) vs. No. 2 Cameron (18-1), 10 a.m.
While the Panthers have been crisp in cruising to victories over Pendleton County and Tucker County, the Dragons have made the most of their first state tournament experience.
Cameron has allowed a mere 52 points in Charleston, defeating Madonna and Calhoun County.
Limiting a balanced and explosive Panthers’ offense that features three 1,000-point scorers won’t be easy.
Tug Valley guard Kaylea Baisden made a state tournament record nine three-pointers against Pendleton, while fellow guard Alyssa Newsome and post presence Makayla May are vital to Tug Valley’s success.
The Panthers are seeking their first title.
For CHS, six-foot freshman Ashlynn Van Tassell is a key on both ends and guards Lily Neely and Kenzie Clutter are perimeter threats.
“We have our work cut out for us,” Panthers’ coach Clyde Farley said. “By no means will we take them lightly.”
No. 1 Parkersburg Catholic (18-0) vs. No. 2 Wyoming East (10-2), 12:30 p.m.
Crusaderettes’ coach Marty Vierheller has discussed at length the disappointment his team experienced last season after its year was cut short while still unbeaten and one win away from playing in the Class A final.
Now having moved up in classification, PCHS is trying to finish off an unbeaten season and enters with 44 consecutive wins.
The Warriors, however, appear set to pose a difficult test.
Point guard Skylar Davidson has 36 points, 21 assists and 17 steals in the Warriors’ state tournament wins over Mingo Central and Petersburg.
Abby Russell, Daisha Summers and Madison Clark help assume some of the scoring lead for Wyoming East, which similar to Parkersburg Catholic, likes to bother the opposition with its ball pressure defensively.
“Everything is run through Skylar, but each one of their players knows their roles so well and they’re comfortable in those roles,” Vierheller said. “They find exactly what they do well and they do it.”
For Vierheller’s team, guard Leslie Huffman is the straw that stirs the drink, while Aaliyah Brunny’s versatility and ability to fill the stat sheet are vital.
PCHS has won all 18 games by double digits this season and hardly been challenged in Charleston during victories against Ravenswood and Williamstown.
No. 1 Fairmont Senior (17-0) vs. No. 3 Nitro (17-1), 5:30 p.m.
The Wildcats’ semifinal win over previously unbeaten North Marion prevented a Marion County title game of unbeaten teams.
Still, one-loss Nitro has handled Midland Trail and the Huskies, and guard Baylee Goins is a 2,000-point career scorer who relishes carrying the load.
Fellow guard Taylor Maddox had a career outing against North Marion, scoring 30 points over the final three quarters.
Nitro will have its hands full with a Polar Bears’ team that features the imposing duo of Marley Washenitz and Meredith Maier.
Washenitz helped Fairmont Senior down Logan in its semifinal, scoring 26 points to go with 10 rebounds and five steals. Maier hasn’t quite broken out offensively in two state tournament games, but her 18-point average suggests she’s plenty capable.
The Polar Bears have gotten strong production from the supporting cast throughout an unbeaten campaign and they pride themselves on relentless defensive play.
“It’s not just going to be about the main players,” Polar Bears’ coach Corey Hines said. “In a championship situation, it’s always going to be about the others. You know the main players will be worth the price of admission.”
No. 1 Huntington (15-1) vs. No. 2 Cabell Midland (14-3), 8 p.m.
The only one of the four title games that is a rematch, the Highlanders earned a 60-47 victory over the Knights two weeks in a sectional final.
Now comes a meeting on the biggest stage yet in a Cabell County final.
“Huntington is going to be ready to play,” Knights’ coach Matt Adkins said. “It’s going to be like two sisters fighting. Mom better lock up the China and get ready for a battle.”
Dionna Gray is a steady scorer and playmaker for HHS, which rallied to beat Martinsburg in a quarterfinal, before handling Morgantown.
The Highlanders also have a strong post presence in Imani Hickman, while Ravyn Goodson is a capable perimeter shooting and led the team with 16 points against the Mohigans.
The Knights are quite balanced and can rely on any number of seven players to produce. Jazmyn Wheeler, Autumn Lewis and K.K. Potter join Rylee Allie and Jayda Allie comprise a key group looking to lead Cabell Midland to its first championship.
CMHS topped previously unbeaten Jefferson, then George Washington to make its first title game appearance.