2015 State Quarterfinal Recap: Session 3

Fairmont Senior kicked off the AA tournament with a solid 59-44 victory over Mingo Central. The Polar Bears led 31-23 at the half, but Central was able to keep the margin between 3 and 5 points for much of the second half. Senior was able to push the lead back out to a more comfortable margin in the middle of the fourth quarter and coasted to the 15-point victory.

Tavon Horton was outstanding for Fairmont Senior, scoring 23 points and adding 5 assists, 5 rebounds, and 4 steals. Jacob Casiluonova chipped in 11 points and Micheal Holloway added 8 points and 14 rebounds. Dalton Hatfield paced the miners with 15 points. Dikembe Dixson scored 13 and Montrell Dixson added 9 points and 9 rebounds.

Woodrow Wilson advanced to the semifinals by squeaking out a 60-59 victory over Martinsburg. The game was tight the whole way, with Woodrow leading by 2 after one quarter, 3 at the half, and the game was tied after three. A Noah Hancock (23 pts, 14 reb) basket gave Beckley a 54-48 lead with 2:44 to play, and a miraculous tip in by Hancock gave the Flying Eagles a 58-55 lead with 36 seconds remaining. Two free throws by Malyk Fowlkes (his only 2 points of the game) put Woodrow up by 4 w/ 5 seconds to play, and a long three at the buzzer by Jessiya Villa set the final margin.

Stephen Beasley and Brent Osborne joined Hancock in double figures with 11 points apiece. Villa led Martinsburg with 17 points, and Jarrell Jones scored 16 points and grabbed 13 rebounds. Devonte Redman added 12 points for the Bulldogs and Juwan Green pulled in 11 rebounds.

In the final game of the session, seventh-seeded Bluefield jumped out to a quick 12-2 lead over Bridgeport before the Indians settled in to take control of the game. Bridgeport cut the deficit to 1 at the end of the quarter and then led by 4 at the half and 12 after three quarters on the way to a 70-56 victory. The Beavers hit Bridgeport with their best punch to start the game, but they just could not sustain it.

Nick Greely led all scorers with 24 for Bridgeport. Chase Robey and Hunter Haddix joined him in double figures with 13 and 11, respectively. John Wilfong was just shy of a double-double with 9 points and 11 rebounds. Jordan Ponder scored 15 to lead Bluefield, and Corey Coppola added 10.

Bridgeport and Fairmont Senior will meet again at 11:15 on Friday morning. Woodrow Wilson will face Parkersburg South in the semifinals at 5:30 on Friday evening.

2015 State Quarterfinal Recap: Session 2

The evening session picked up right where the morning session left off.

Top-seed Wheeling Central needed a late comeback to force overtime before sneaking away with a 73- 66 victory over Charleston Catholic. The Maroon Knights played much of the first half without Chase Harler (17 pts, 9 reb), who was in foul trouble. Charleston Catholic weathered a barrage of early 3-pointers from Central and recovered to take a 30-29 lead at the half. The Irish held a 59-53 lead with 1:42 to play before Boyd Bibey (15 pts) hit two 3-pointers to tie it up. Harler got two good looks at the basket on the final possession for Central, but couldn’t knock either down. The Maroon Knights went up 6 points early in the overtime period and cruised the rest of the way to victory.

Trenton Smith had a outstanding game for Central, scoring 26 points and hitting 6 of his 8 3-point attempts. Roger Burdette made big play after big play for Charleston Catholic, finishing with 21 points. Hayden McCarty and Michael Martin chipped in 11 apiece and Sam Jenkins added 8 points and 12 rebounds.

In the 1/8 matchup in AAA, Parkersburg South struggled a bit before finally rolling to a 71-49 victory over Musselman. The Patriots forced a bunch of turnovers early while jumping out to a 15-5 lead, but once Musselman settled down, they were competitive. The Applemen trailed just 43-40 at the 5:30 mark of the third quarter, but South finished the quarter on a 17-0 run to erase the remaining doubt.

JR Kerr paced Parkersburg South with 19 points, with Garrett Gilkeson adding 17 and Ty Dobson 11. Kyle Jackson had 20 points and 10 rebounds, both game-highs, for the Applemen.

The nightcap proved that no lead was safe on this quarterfinal Wednesday. Tug Valley led by 7 over Williamstown at the half and held a 37-22 margin at the end of three quarters. After struggling to do much of anything against Tug’s defense, Williamstown found a way to score 24 points in the final period. The Yellow Jackets took a lead on two Gage Wix free throws with less than a minute to play and held on for a 46-42 victory.

Wix led Williamstown with 13 points and 10 rebounds. Josh Palmer and Chandler Weber added 9 points apiece. Calvin Blankenship led all scorers with 15 for Tug Valley. Freshman Jeremy Dillon scored 8 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.

Wheeling Central and Williamstown will square off in the semifinals at 1:00 on Friday afternoon. Parkersburg South will face the winner of Martinsburg and Woodrow Wilson at 5:30 on Friday.



2015 Tourney Preview: Class AA

The state tournament is underway, so it’s time to preview the final class that has yet to begin tournament play. We’ll be looking at the matchups in AA.

Class AA has been somewhat top heavy all year, with Poca entering the tournament undefeated, Bridgeport and Fairmont Senior going deep into the regular season before losing, and Westside suffering just two losses thus far. Late in the season, though, Robert C. Byrd has been playing as well as just about anyone. I see the top-heavy trend to continue, with a blowout or two in the quarterfinals and then two great semifinal games.


Poca has been rolling since…well…all season, really. They’ve been tested a little more this season in conference play than a year ago. This can be viewed as a sign of weakness or a sign that they are more experienced and battle-tested this year. Regardless, Ravenswood has had a nice season, but I just can’t see them giving Poca a serious threat. (I think they are a year or maybe two away from being really good, though.)

Winner: Poca

Bridgeport takes on two-time defending champion Bluefield in the 2/7 matchup, though this certainly is not the same Bluefield nucleus that won the two titles. I think the Beavers could give Bridgeport some trouble with their athleticism, but I think the Indians have a little too much for them.

Winner: Bridgeport

The 3/6 matchup between Fairmont Senior and Mingo Central will be quite the athletic showcase. The Dixsons for Central can jump out of the gym, and the Polar Bears have quickness all over the place. My biggest question is if Mingo Central’s guards can hold up against Senior’s pressure man defense. I ultimately don’t think they can, and I like the Polar Bears to advance.

Winner: Fairmont Senior

The matchup between Westside and Robert C. Byrd is by far the most difficult to predict of any of the AA quarterfinal contests. Both teams have players with a ton of state tournament experience. Westside looked to be the better team for much of the year, but RCB really came on late in the season. (The one scheduled game between the two was snowed out.) I think this game will come down to which team shoots the best, and that is always difficult to predict. There’s just been something about this Westside team all year, though. I think the Renegades find a way to avenge their semifinal loss from last year.

Winner: Westside


A Poca matchup with either Westside or RCB in the semifinals could be really good. If it is Westside, I think the Renegades will have a chance to pull off the win if they can shoot well and if Justin Cogar can hurt Poca a little bit inside. I think the Dots will find a way to defend them, though, and advance to the finals.

Winner: Poca

I missed out on the first two Bridgeport/Fairmont Senior matchups this season (which they split), so I am kind of hoping for a chance to see round 3. In the rubber match, I’ll take Fairmont Senior’s athleticism and pressure defense to make the difference.

Winner: Fairmont Senior


I don’t think it particularly matters if Poca plays Fairmont Senior or Bridgeport because it should be a good one either way. (Or if Westside or RCB makes it instead of Poca.) I think Fairmont Senior’s athleticism could give the Dots some trouble. I like Poca’s ability to handle pressure defense, score in a variety of ways, and defend at all positions. Though undefeated records haven’t been friendly to teams in recent years at the tournament, I like Poca to cut down the nets.

Champion: Poca

2015 State Quarterfinal Recap: Session 1

What a dandy of a first session we had to kick off the 2015 state tournament.

The session started off with an all-time great comeback by Magnolia to steal away a 49-48 victory over Notre Dame. The Irish led by 3 at the half and 10 after three quarters, and the lead was all the way up to 13 with 3:45 to play. Notre Dame was still up 10 with 2:00 to play when the Blue Eagles really started to chip away at the lead. After a combination of missed free throws and turnovers, a three by Preston Boswell (23 points) cut the lead to 48-47 with 24 seconds to play. Magnolia forced a turnover on the ensuing possession. Boswell drove to the basket, was fouled, and made two free throws to give the Blue Eagles a one-point lead. Jarrod West (22 pts) just missed a last-second jumper, and Magnolia came away with the win.

Boswell was fantastic down the stretch, scoring 14 of his 23 points in the final period. He struggled from the field for the game (33%), but he hit his only 3-pointer of the game at the right time. He also shot a solid 12 of 14 from the free throw line and pulled in 11 rebounds. Big man Mitch Winters also notched a double-double with 10 points and 14 boards. West was the lone member of the Irish in double figures, with Noah Bohanna adding 9 points and 6 rebounds.

We moved from one thriller to the next, with Trey Dawson hitting a 3-pointer at the buzzer to lift Hurricane to a 59-56 over seventh-seeded Parkersburg. Much like Notre Dame, Parkersburg had built a fourth quarter lead that it could not keep. The Big Reds led 53-48 with about 4:00 to play and decided to try to run some clock. Hurricane climbed back into the game, and a JT Rogoszewski three with 29 seconds to play gave them a 56-55 lead. Ja’Darien Wade was fouled and hit one of two free throws to tie the game with 11 seconds to play. Parkersburg opted to play zone defense to throw Hurricane off on the final possession. Dawson passed to Dylan Tinsley on the left wing, then Tinsley threw it back to Dawson at the top of the key, and Dawson drained one from about 25 feet as time expired. 

Rogoszewski led Hurricane with 22 points, and Dawson added 21 points and 6 assists. Noah Fenerty chipped in 5 points and 9 rebounds. Ja’Darien Wade went out with a phenomenal 24 point, 17 rebound performance for Parkersburg. Michael Ramsey added 13 points and Jordan Colebank 10.

The final game of the session did not follow the pattern of the first two. Greater Beckley Christian raced out a 17-10 first quarter lead over Tucker County and never looked back, cruising to a 79-50 victory. The Mountain Lions struggled to match up with GBC’s athleticism from the tip. Elisha Kidd scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, and Brent Daniels and Isaiah Francis finished with 16 and 15, respectively. Freshman Ty Walton added 13 rebounds for the Crusaders. Derek Zirk and Seth Evans scored 11 apiece to lead Tucker.

Greater Beckley Christian and Magnolia will now square off in the semifinals at 9:30am on Friday. Hurricane will take on the winner of Huntington and Greenbrier East at 9:00 Friday evening.

2015 Tourney Preview: Class AAA

Tourney time is upon us, and it’s time to preview the teams and matchups in each class. We move now to AAA.

I picked only 4 of 8 tournament teams correctly in my preview, yet I feel in a way I was validated and spot on in my analysis. I have been saying all year that AAA is both very even and wide open. Though some teams established themselves throughout the year to be the best in their section or region, there was never much of a gap. When the postseason started, chaos ensued.

The difficult part now is to try to figure out if the chaos is over, or if it is just getting started. Will we see big upsets, or will we see the teams that are favored move on? I tend to think the majority of the chaos is over.


Musselman has had a really nice second half of the season, which included knocking off Martinsburg in the regular season and Jefferson in the sectional. They are very young, though, and probably a year or two away from making serious noise on the state level. I’ve thought for some time that Parkersburg South is the best team in the state when they play well. I also like their experience in this one.

Winner: Parkersburg South

Hurricane will be playing in the 2/7 game for the third consecutive year, but this will be their first as the favorite. Parkersburg is very talented, and their win at Morgantown in the regional final capped an excellent second half of the season for the Big Reds. This is much more evenly matched than your average 2/7 game, but I like Hurricane’s experience from the championship game run last year. They also seem very focused and on a mission after the way last year’s game ended.

Winner: Hurricane

Defending champion Huntington is right back in the same spot it was last year: a middle seed and flying a little under the radar. Greenbrier East is making its first trip back to the state tournament since 2002 after a surprising regional win at Capital. The Spartans go as point guard Christian Ortiz goes. Huntington has certainly played the tougher schedule, but Greenbrier East was able to win that regional on the road when no one expected them to do so. If Ortiz can get rolling and the Spartans can knock down some shots, they definitely have a chance. I think there will be one more surprising upset in AAA before the tourney is over, so I’ll pick this to be the one. (And now that I’ve picked it, Huntington will likely win the state championship.)

Winner: Greenbrier East

I think people are sleeping on Martinsburg a little bit. They are very talented and have no bad losses. They also have a player in Jarrell Jones that could lead them on a deep run. Woodrow Wilson isn’t quite as talented as they’ve been the last few years, but they are tough and really defend well. This one could go either way, but I like the Bulldogs.

Winner: Martinsburg


If Parkersburg South and Martinsburg do meet in the semifinals, it will be a rematch of a game won by South by just a point at the Big Atlantic Classic. Martinsburg is certainly talented enough to win this game, but the recent pattern for them has been to get to the tournament with a young team only lose a winnable game one year (’08 and ’12) and then win the state championship the next season (’09 and ’13). Maybe the pattern continues and they make a run next year, or maybe they break through and make a run at the title this season. Ultimately, I think South is the best team when they play well, so I’m going with the Patriots.

Winner: Parkersburg South

If Greenbrier East advances, Ortiz could give Hurricane lots of problems. I trust Hurricane’s ability to defend, though. I also like their ability to score in a variety of ways. No matter which team they face in the semifinals, I like Hurricane to advance. (A rematch of last year’s title game between Huntington and Hurricane after two close regular season meetings would be fantastic, too.)

Winner: Hurricane


We have a (hypothetical) matchup here between the team I think is the best when they play well (Parkersburg South) and a team that I trust as much as any, has lots of experience, and seems to be on a mission after the way last season ended (Hurricane). If this is, indeed, the title game matchup, I expect it to be a great one. Matchups like Trey Dawson vs. Cody Monroe and J.T. Rogoszewski vs. Garrett Gilkeson would be fantastic. There’s something about this Hurricane team that really makes me want to pick them, but I almost always go with the team I think is best and assume both teams will play up to their ability. Therefore, I’ll go with the Patriots to cut down the nets.

Champion: Parkersburg South

But AAA has been nothing but wide-open chaos all year, so goodness knows what will actually happen.

2015 Tourney Preview: Class A

Tourney time is upon us, and it’s time to preview the teams and matchups in each class, starting with Class A. I picked 7 of 8 tournament teams correctly in my preview, missing only Charleston Catholic (I picked Gilmer County).

I think Class A is pretty open again, though not quite as open as last year when we had a chaotic quarterfinal round that nearly resulted in the first 8 over 1 upset of the tournament seeding era. The way the last month or so of the season played out, I think any of the top four seeds, maybe more, can win the whole thing.

Class A will be a little more difficult to predict for me since I have seen only 5 of the 8 tourney teams (as opposed to 7 in AAA and all 8 in AA).

Anyway, on to the matchups and predictions…


The 1/8 matchup features a rematch of last year’s title game between Wheeling Central and Charleston Catholic. The Maroon Knights and Irish have played many times in the state tournament, but it’s usually in the semifinals or finals. Central has been at or close to the top of “A” all year, while Charleston Catholic struggled for parts of the season trying to rebuild after losing the nucleus of their recent tournament success. The Irish are good on defense and are playing their best at the end of the year, but I think Chase Harler and company will be too much for them.

Winner: Wheeling Central

Greater Beckley Christian makes its third consecutive state tournament appearance, but the Crusaders have yet to advance past the opening round. This time, they are in a better position as the 2-seed, taking on 7-seed Tucker County. The Mountain Lions are tough and will try to pound inside with Owen and Seth Evans, but they’ll struggle to match GBC’s athleticism and stop Elisha Kidd. I think the early exits are over for the Crusaders.

Winner: Greater Beckley Christian

Magnolia seems to be playing their best basketball of the season at tournament time, and that will need to continue against Notre Dame. Jarrod West and the Irish have been solid all season, but they haven’t been able to knock off any of the top “A” teams above them. Notre Dame also has the advantage of returning a few players with semifinal experience from last year. Ultimately, I think Magnolia has a few too many options and is playing too well right now.

Winner: Magnolia

The 4/5 matchup should be one of, if not the best in the first round. Williamstown is very talented and has had a great season, yet they haven’t really faced any of the best in “A.” (They did knock off AA tourney team Ravenswood twice, though.) Tug Valley struggled a little out of the gates as their freshmen gained experience, but you could argue they are playing the best basketball out of anyone in the state right now. Tug has been so solid in the second half of the season that you either have to say that they are: a) possibly the best team in the state or b) due to come back to earth. Tug creates a bunch of matchup problems, and I also think they will find ways to guard Gage Wix and Josh Palmer.

Winner: Tug Valley


A potential Wheeling Central/Tug Valley semifinal would be very interesting, largely because I see the possibility of two very different games unfolding. One game is dominated by Harler and Central’s skill and experience dominates as Tug struggles. The other type of game is one where Tug’s defense dominates, frustrates Harler to no end, and Central can’t score enough points to win. Which do I think wins out: Central’s talent and experience or Tug’s outstanding defense with a day to prepare? This could very well be a toss up, but I’ll go with the better-known quantity over the last two years.

Winner: Wheeling Central

If Greater Beckley Christian and Magnolia face each other in the semifinals, it will be a rematch of the game won by GBC at Magnolia earlier this year. There will be plenty of skill and firepower on both sides of this matchup. This would really be a toss up, but I’ll take the Blue Eagles in the rematch.

Winner: Magnolia


I really could make a strong case for any of the top four seeds to win it all, and any of four different matchup possibilities could be great. Not only would Wheeling Central facing Magnolia be a matchup of two very talented teams, it would also strengthen a budding rivalry. My concern with Wheeling Central (whether in the finals or an earlier round) is that they’ve struggled to score at times this season outside of Chase Harler. Harler is fantastic (and very possibly the state player of the year), but I think Magnolia just has a few too many weapons. I’ll take the Blue Eagles to cut down the nets.

Champion: Magnolia

(I hate these picks already. It’s so evenly matched, but I guess I have to pick someone.)