By Cam Huffman
The Big Atlantic Classic — which begins today at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center — will capture the attention of basketball fans all over the state this week, but there’s one area game that is sure to pull some fans away from what’s probably the state’s biggest basketball showcase, at least for one night.
Woodrow Wilson beat Shady Spring 80-67 on Dec. 17, 2011, at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center, but that’s the only time the two county schools have played in the last 10 years. They’ll meet again tonight, though, when the Flying Eagles make the trip across town to play at the home of the Tigers at 7:30 p.m.
Shady Spring probably wishes it had caught Woodrow Wilson a little earlier in the season. Beckley, at one point, was 4-4 and suffering through a run of four losses in five games that included a three-game losing streak at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center for the first time ever.
Since then, though, Woodrow has caught fire. Using relentless defense and an up-tempo offense, the Flying Eagles are living up to their name. They’ve won four straight, including their last two road games.
Donte Nabors leads the way, averaging close to 20 points per game, and senior point guard Andrew Johnson and forward Chase Hancock are both double-figure scorers, as well.
Shady Spring, though, always has a chance any time Chase Connor takes the floor. The senior point guard is one of the area’s top scorers, knocking on the door of 25 points per game. He can knock down 3-pointers from any spot on the court, often an equalizer against deeper teams.
Jacob Buckland is a force inside and had 22 points in the loss to Wyoming East last week.
Prior to that, though, the Tigers (7-5) had won seven in a row, and with nearly a week between games, they’re sure to have a plan for the Flying Eagles (8-4) on their home floor.
OTHER GAMES THIS WEEK
As always, the Big Atlantic Classic will provide intriguing matchups throughout the week.
It starts tonight in Class AA boys action when No. 1 Bluefield takes on No. 10 Westside at 7:25 p.m. The Class A nightcap, scheduled for a 9 p.m. start, pits No. 12 Tygarts Valley against No. 8 Valley.
Tuesday’s big game is a Class AA boys contest, with No. 3 Wyoming East against No. 5 Robert C. Byrd.
On Wednesday, the national game will pit Oak Hill Academy against Montrose Christian, and the Class A boys championship is sure to be a battle of ranked teams, as well.
Thursday’s slate has Class AAA No. 11 Parkersburg South against Class AA No. 3 Nicholas County in girls action, as well as Class AAA No. 9 Preston against Class AAA No. 10 George Washington.
Later that night, Class AAA No. 1 Greenbrier East’s girls will meet St. Albans and Class AAA No. 2 University will meet Class AA No. 1 Westside.
Friday features a packed slate of boys games, including Jefferson vs. Morgantown, Musselman vs. Parkersburg South, Greenbrier East vs. Point Pleasant and Woodrow Wilson vs. Lewis County.
Championship Saturday could provide some classic matchups if everything works out. On the girls side, Class AAA defending champion Greenbrier East could play Class AA defending champion Westside in a battle of top-ranked teams in their respective classes. Woodrow Wilson could end up against No. 2 Morgantown in boys action, and Greenbrier East could put its undefeated record on the line against No. 7 Parkersburg South.
The Register-Herald power rankings will be released each Monday for the remainder of the high school basketball season. The rankings are designed to rank area boys and girls teams, based on the strength within their class. Ranking Class A Greater Beckley above Class AAA Shady Spring, for example, doesn’t mean that we believe Greater Beckley is a better team and would beat Shady Spring in a head-to-head battle. It simply means that we believe Greater Beckley is a stronger force within Class A than Shady Spring is within Class AAA.
Five voters — assistant sports editor Gary Fauber, sports editor Cam Huffman, sports writer J. Daniel Rollins, sports writer Dan Stillwell and sports clerk Rusty Udy — will rank their top 10 boys teams and top 10 girls teams each week. Teams will receive 10 points for a first place vote, nine for a second place vote and on down to one for a 10th place vote. The points will be tallied and the teams ranked in order.
Here are this week’s power rankings, with total votes in parentheses.
1. Bluefield (50) — The Class AA Beavers (10-1) beat PikeView and Scott this week and still haven't lost other than an early-season game with Class AAA rival Princeton.
2. Greenbrier East (43) — The Class AAA Spartans are starting to look like a team of destiny. They beat Tug Valley on a Rondale Watson halfcourt shot at the buzzer and held off Logan's "billion dollar challenge" to move to 15-0 for the first time in school history.
3. Wyoming East (40) — The Class AA Warriors (10-2) won impressively against Shady Spring with all five starters scoring in double figures.
4. Greater Beckley (31) — The class A Crusaders (7-1) had little trouble with Montcalm and still haven't lost other than a 74-61 setback at defending Class AA champion Tug Valley.
T4. Woodrow Wilson (31) — Don't look now, but the Class AAA Flying Eagles are quickly moving up the list. Beckley (8-4) has now won four straight, including a big sectional win over Princeton last week.
6. Princeton (20) — The Class AAA Tigers (11-4) have experienced some recent struggles after a hot start. They lost to George Washington and Woodrow Wilson last week.
7. Westside (19) — The Class AA Renegades (9-5) pulled off a big win over Liberty last week and are starting to turn some heads.
8. Summers County (13) — The Class AA Bobcats (8-4) beat Meadow Bridge last week and have now won three in a row after a string of four losses in six games.
9. Valley (12) — The Class A Greyhounds (8-2) beat Sherman and Midland Trail to get back on track after a two-game losing skid.
10. Greenbrier West (6) — The Class A Cavaliers are 7-2 and didn't take the court because of the effect the weather had on the schedule last week.
1. Westside (50) — The defending Class AA state champion Renegades (14-0) beat Independence and Scott last week and appear to be virtually unstoppable.
2. Greenbrier East (45) — The defending Class AAA state champions keep finding a way. With wins over Charleston Catholic and Logan last week, the Spartans (11-0) are the only undefeated team left in Class AAA.
3. Princeton (37) — A win over Summers County, and another over Riverside, last week sent a message that the Tigers (12-2) shouldn't be overlooked in Class AAA.
4. Nicholas County (33) — The Class AA Grizzlies (13-1) didn't get a chance to avenge the season's only loss to Westside because of the weather, but teams across the state are aware of their talent.
5. Summers County (29) — The Class AA Bobcats (11-4) lost to both Princeton and PikeView last week but are still getting plenty of respect, probably because of the program's history.
6. Valley (26) — The Class A Greyhounds (8-3) lost to Herbert Hoover last week and got snowed out when they were supposed to take on Mount View.
7. Pocahontas County (17) — The Class A Warriors (12-4) beat Moorefield but were snowed out of a scheduled game against Tucker County.
T7. Fayetteville (15) — The Pirates (8-3) beat Oak Hill last week and should start getting some votes in the Class A polls.
9. PikeView (10) — The Class AA Panthers (7-6) beat both Bluefield and Summers County last week and are starting to become a dangerous team.
10. Meadow Bridge (7) — The Class A Wildcats (8-5) have lost two straight and five of their last seven, but they played teams like Valley and Fayetteville close and have some talent.