The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 23, 2013

Boys sectionals should provide excitement

By Cam Huffman
Sports Editor

— The dream of a trip to Charleston and a possible Class AAA state championship will end for one of the state’s best teams this week. There simply isn’t another option.

With No. 2 Woodrow Wilson, No. 6 Greenbrier East and No. 12 Princeton all taking part in the Class AAA Region 3, Section 2 tournament — which begins Monday and will finish up Friday at the Brushfork Armory in Bluefield — only two spots in the regional are available among three teams with a combined record of 53-12.

“The sectional is tremendous,” said Greenbrier East head coach Jim Justice. “There are three great teams. It will be sad no matter who walks away and doesn’t get to advance, whether it’s my team or not.

“It reminds me a lot of Marsh Fork. The last year they were in school, they were like 21-1 or something like that and lost in the sectional. I went down to the graduation, and they showed clips on the screen and every one of them was crying. It will be tough for whoever loses in the sectional.”

Which team that will be, isn’t easy to decifer.

Woodrow Wilson (18-4) has to be considered a favorite to get to the regional, and then move on to Charleston. The Flying Eagles have won 14 straight, and none of those games have been close. They ran away from then-No. 2 South Charleston to win the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship last weekend, and head coach Ron Kidd’s club is certainly one of the hottest teams in the state.

Their path to the regional is also the easiest. The No. 1 seed in the section, Beckley will face the winner of fifth-seeded Oak Hill (3-17) and fourth-seed Shady Spring (13-9) — those two teams will face off Monday at Shady Spring — in Wednesday’s semifinal at the Brushfork Armory.

Win that one, and the Flying Eagles are in the sectional championship and guaranteed a spot in the regional.

But Kidd isn’t taking anything for granted.

“You don’t know what Shady and (Oak Hill) are going to do,” said Kidd. “(Oak Hill) is athletic, and any given night if you don’t come ready to play and focused, you can get beat by anybody.

“In the playoffs, it’s one and you’re out, even though if you get to the sectional championship you can get another shot. But we don’t want to lose any, so we think of it as (lose) one and you’re out.”

Either Greenbrier East or Princeton, though, will see its season come to an end on Wednesday when the two teams face off in the other semifinal at the Brushfork Armory. The winner moves on to the championship, and a spot in the regional, while the loser will turn in its uniforms.

East (19-3) is the No. 2 seed after the best start in school history — winning the first 15 games, including a 61-59 win over Woodrow Wilson at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.

The Spartans, though, will enter the tournament having lost three of their last seven games, including a 63-52 loss at home to Princeton and a 67-41 loss at South Charleston on Thursday.

Princeton (16-5), the No. 3 seed, also has some big wins on its schedule, including knocking off Bluefield, Huntington and Greenbrier East. The last time out, though, the Tigers were blown out by a Huntington team looking for revenge in the MSAC Night of Champions.

Princeton will wrap up the regular season today in a rematch at Bluefield before taking on the Spartans on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be crazy,” said senior guard Ryan Meadows. “It’s three of the best teams in the state all in the same section.”

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One of the most competitive sections from top to bottom might be Class AA’s Region 3, Section 1, which includes No. 5 Westside (16-6) and No. 7 Wyoming East (15-7), as well as Summers County (12-9), which has been ranked at various points this season.

Fifth-seeded Independence, a 49-36 winner over No. 4 seed Liberty Friday, will face top-seeded Westside in a sectional semifinal Tuesady at 8 p.m. at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. That will follow the other semifinal game between second-seeded Wyoming East and third-seeded Summers County at 6 p.m.

The two semifinal winners will advance to the championship game Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at the Convention Center, and both will move on to regional play.

The area’s other Class AA sectional will begin today when fifth-seeded RiverView plays at James Monroe at 2 p.m.

That winner will face top seed Bluefield Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Princeton High School in a semifinal game, while second-seed Mount View and third-seed PikeView will meet in the other semifinal later that night.

The Region 3, Section 2 championship is set for Friday at 7 p.m. at Princeton High School.

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Class A’s Region 3, Section 2 tournament should be an entertaining one, as well.

It begins Monday when fifth-seed Meadow Bridge plays at fourth-seed Richwood and sixth-seed Fayetteville plays at Midland Trail.

The Meadow Bridge-Richwood winner will play at top-seeded Valley, the No. 9 team in Class A, in a semifinal game Wednesday at 7 p.m. The Fayetteville-Midland Trail winner will face another hot team in second-seed Greenbrier West, which is coming off an impressive win over Class AA Summers County.

The Region 3, Section 2 championship game will be played Friday at 7 p.m. on the home floor of the highest remaining seed.

The two sectional finalists will move into the regional round and do battle with the finalists from Region 3, Section 1, which includes Class A No. 6 Greater Beckley Christian. The Crusaders are the second seed in that sectional and will open up Tuesday at home against the winner of sixth-seed Van and third-seed Sherman.

Tug Valley will meet the Montcalm-Man winner in the other semifinal, with the sectional championship scheduled for Friday on the home floor of the highest remaining seed.

— E-mail: chuffman

@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter

@CamHuffmanRH.

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