The day has arrived when we will crown the three state champions for the 2017 basketball season. Before the games get underway, let’s take a quick look the two morning session matchups.
Class A: #2 Ravenswood vs. #4 Notre Dame
I have said for most of the year that Ravenswood has played the best basketball of any Class A team I had seen all year. That remained true up through the regional and the opening round of the state tournament, but yesterday, it was strongly challenged when Notre Dame completely dominated Wheeling Central in the semifinals.
If the Irish can again play with that much energy on defense and knock down shots, I love their chances, but it is never easy to do that in consecutive games at the Civic Center. My feeling is that this game will end up being played at a little slower pace with lower scoring, as almost always is the case with state championship games. Ravenswood was able to grind out a 41-36 victory over Madonna yesterday, but I think Notre Dame is able to grind out a low scoring game as well. I also saw Ravenswood put up 108 in a game earlier this year, so for that matter, I guess both teams can run and score big, too, if it comes to that.
Ravenswood did a great job slowing down Deaundra Murphy in the quarterfinals and limited Ewusiak and Jeter in the semis. They will need another great defensive effort in the finals against Jarrod West, who went off for 35 yesterday. If that does happen, then the Irish will need some other guys to knock down shots. They have several guys that are capable.
Notre Dame will also have its hands full with Ravenswood’s multiple scoring options. Riley Heatherington has had a big tournament so far, and Isaiah Morgan has knocked down several big shots.
Class AA: #1 Fairmont Senior vs. #3 Chapmanville
When these two teams met in December at the Big Ten-Cardinal Conference shootout at Robert C. Byrd, Fairmont Senior dominated from the opening tip and rolled to an 18-point win. Chapmanville seemed to really struggle with the Polar Bears’ athleticism and pressure.
That was a long time ago for this Chapmanville team, however. The Tigers have been playing great for the last month, undoubtedly their best basketball of the season. A main reason for that has been the emergence of 6’8″ freshman Obinna Killen inside, who has been blocking everything lately. He and Hunter Neil inside will provide a bigger challenge for the Polar Bears than they faced in December to go along their excellent guard trio.
Fairmont Senior is still really, really good, though, and they have played great late in the season as well. Chapmanville will need to have a great game to win, but I do believe that is much more of a possibility now than I did in December.