CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The final day of high school basketball season is upon us with four titles for grabs for the first time in state tournament history.
A look at each game in order of its start time at the Charleston Coliseum.
No. 1 Man (15-2) vs. No. 2 Pendleton County (17-0)
One team is guaranteed to win its first state championship when the top seed Hillbillies battle the unbeaten Wildcats.
The contest looks to be a clash of styles with Man more of an offensive-minded team often looking to push the pace, and Pendleton County a more deliberate team yet to surrender 50 points in any contest this season.
“They definitely don’t run and gun like we do,” Man coach T.J. Blevins said. “They use a slow tempo and a lot of times it takes eight or nine seconds to get the ball across the court for them. Everything is inside the three-point line.”
Dating back to the start of last season, the Wildcats have won 40 consecutive games.
In two state tournament contests, Pendleton County is 1 of 7 from three-point range. The Wildcats rely heavily on a pair of seniors who do much of their damage inside — Josh Alt and Bailey Thompson.
The Hillbillies have two losses by a total of eight points and enter off a semifinal win over Webster County in which they made 12 three-pointers, including eight from Caleb Blevins.
In addition to Blevins, 6-foot-7 Austin Ball and point guard Peyton Adams are go-to players for the Hillbillies.
No. 1 Williamstown (16-1) vs. No. 2 Poca (13-4)
Following a semifinal win over Charleston Catholic in the final seconds, the Dots seek their first title since 2015 and third of coach Allen Osborne’s tenure.
Isaac McKneely, who led Poca with 25 points and made the game-winning three-pointer against the Irish, will be the focal point of the Yellowjackets’ game plan.
Poca surrounds McKneely, a Virginia commit, with several solid role players. The Dots are a defensive-minded team that will look to make things tough on Williamstown.
“Here’s what I can tell you — everybody in this room knows they have the best player in the state and maybe the best player in this state in the last several years,” WHS coach Scott Sauro said of McKneely. “The other guys complement him well.”
The Yellowjackets have won 12 straight and are led by 6-5 senior Sam Cremeans.
Despite attempting only 11 field goals, Cremeans had 27 points in Williamstown’s semifinal win over Chapmanville. Williamstown effectively utilized a 2-3 zone against the Tigers to hold them to 41 points.
Williamstown has also gotten exceptional play from Baylor Haught, who has double-doubles in both state tournament games and has posted 32 points and 23 rebounds over the two contests in Charleston.
“These kids will have no fear,” Sauro said.
No. 3 Shady Spring (14-2) vs. No. 5 Wheeling Central (14-2)
While the Tigers seek their first title, the Maroon Knights are hoping for their seventh since 2004 under coach Mel Stephens.
Shady Spring won convincingly over Herbert Hoover in a quarterfinal and Winfield in a semifinal, and Ronnie Olson’s team is brimming with confidence. Despite starting four sophomores, the stage has appeared anything but too big for the Tigers thus far in Charleston.
Senior guard Todd Duncan is joined by sophomore twin brothers Braden Chapman and Cole Chapman to form one of the state’s top trio of guards.
“They’re very good. They can shoot the ball really well,” Stephens said. “They pressure you defensively and make it tough for you to do whatever you try to do.”
The Maroon Knights needed a buzzer-beating three-pointer from Michael Toepfer to survive Nitro in a quarterfinal, before taking care of business against Hampshire to reach the final.
J.C. Maxwell scored 30 points in the victory over the Trojans. Maxwell and guard Ryan Reasbeck are Central’s top two scorers.
No. 1 Morgantown (19-1) vs. No. 2 George Washington (16-1)
The final game of the season will be the inaugural Class AAAA final between the top two seeds.
Morgantown has taken care of business against Woodrow Wilson and Huntington in Charleston, while the Patriots beat Jefferson and Martinsburg despite trailing by six points at halftime in each contest.
MHS is a tough-minded team that prides itself on quality defensive play. The Mohigans are balanced offensively and can be led by a plethora of players, including post presence Carson Poffenberger, wings Alec Poland and Luke Bechtel and guards Xavier Pryor and Brooks Gage.
For GW, guards Mason Pinkett and Alex Yoakum assume much of the scoring load. Both players had 23 points in the come-from-behind victory over the Bulldogs.
Ben Nicol, a 6-6 sophomore, is also a pivotal player for the Patriots.
“Morgantown has played the best quarters and more good quarters than anybody at the state tournament and I’ve seen most games,” GW coach Rick Greene said. “They’re extremely consistent and very well coached. What they do doesn’t just happen coming out of the auxiliary gym.
“We have to play thirty-two minutes like we played the second half of the last two games, and if we do that, we can be in a position to win it.”
Greene guided the Patriots to titles in 2011 and 2018, while Morgantown coach Dave Tallman led the Mohigans to a championship during an unbeaten season in 2016.