By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Fun is the name of the game at the Wendy’s/YMCA of Southern West Virginia Biddy-Buddy All-Star Tournament. But there is also plenty of hardware to be handed out, and that happens today as the 41st annual event draws to a close.
Championships will be decided in five age brackets: fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth grades. Four different sites will serve as the scenes as teams walk away with the trophies, as will all-tournament players and most valuable players.
In the fourth-grade division, the Southern Express will battle the Chesapeake Panthers for the championship. That game will be played at the Y.
The fifth-grade title comes down to West Virginia Ice and NSBC Rampage. That game will take place at Van Meter Gymnasium on the campus of UC-Beckley.
SWV Future will meet West Virginia Midland in the sixth-grade championship. Four members of SWV Future attend Park Middle School and will enjoy home-court advantage today — the game will be played at Park, with the familiar Roadrunner painted on one of the walls.
M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs won the seventh-grade title in 2012. Today, they will try to win the eighth-grade championship and close out their Biddy-Buddy run on top.
Last year, the Mustangs played short-handed when two of their players had to return home early because of tornadoes that ripped through their region of Kentucky.
The acronym M.A.T.T.S. stands for Ministering to Athletes Through Teen Sports. It is a way to honor the memory of coach John Adkins’ son Matt, who was killed in 2002 in Florida, where John was coaching a 17-year-old AAU team.
The Mustangs’ opponent will be the West Virginia Generals — a rematch of last year’s seventh-grade game.
The Generals advanced to the title game after a 48-47 win over a loaded Rising Stars team in Saturday’s semifinals.
West Virginia’s win over Tri-State Express 1 on Saturday morning was its first game together of the travel season.
“(We) played tough,” Generals coach Mike Fowlkes said. “Got better as the game went on. ‘Rusty’ is being generous.”
The Generals are led by the likes of Isiah Francis of Park and Tarek Payne and Courtney Walton of Beckley-Stratton.
Also playing for the Generals is Tamon Scruggs from South Charleston. He is the son of Anthony Scruggs and nephew of Gene Nabors, both former all-staters at Woodrow Wilson.
“He can play,” Fowlkes said. “He hasn’t even been in the gym to practice with us yet and he played a great game with us today.”
Beating the Rising Stars is no small accomplishment — coach Andre Nazario’s team was the 14th-ranked travel team in the nation last year.
“I’m excited about this year’s team,” Nazario said. “I lost some good players (from last year), but I replaced them with some good kids. Good, fundamental (minded) kids that actually get after it. And actually (we’re) bigger than (we were) last year. So I’m excited about our guard play and our bigs that can stretch the floor.”
The Stars are made up of players from across Raleigh County, as well as Charleston, Princeton, Huntington and Bluefield.
Today’s seventh-grade title game was not set at press time.
Both the seventh- and eighth-grade championships will be played at Woodrow Wilson.
All championship games will tip off at 1 p.m. Fifth-place games will start at 10 a.m. and third-place games at 11:30 a.m.
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