By Cam Huffman
Just one week remains in the regular season for West Virginia high school girls basketball, while two weeks are left on the boys schedule.
As March approaches, though, the games only become more meaningful and the rankings even tighter.
Here’s a look at the area’s top teams, as well as the action on the court that any area high school hoops fan will want to be sure to catch this week.
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 (46) — The Class AA No. 1 Beavers (14-2) fell for the first time since December, losing to Class AAA No. 5 Greenbrier East, but that wasn’t enough to knock them off the top of the mountain as our voters still believe they’re the team to beat in Class AA.
2. Woodrow Wilson (45) — The Class AAA No. 3 Flying Eagles (15-4) have now won 11 straight after beating Ripley, Riverside and St. Albans this week, and they’ve played very few close games in the last month.
3. Greenbrier East (44) — Many wrote the Class AAA No. 5 Spartans (17-1) off after a shocking loss to Point Pleasant in the Big Atlantic Classic, but a 65-49 thrashing of Bluefield has given East some new believers.
4. Westside (34) — What the Class AA No. 6 Renegades (15-6) did last week was nothing short of amazing, winning four games in five days, including the second this year over rival Wyoming East.
5. Greater Beckley (30) — The Class A No. 8 Crusaders (10-2) had No. 2 Tug Valley on the ropes before falling one point short. Still, GBC proved it is ready to compete with anybody in its class.
6. Wyoming East (25) — The Class AA No. 7 Warriors (12-6) beat Summers County and Shady Spring last week but fell short against rival Westside. They’ll get a big opportunity tonight against Woodrow Wilson.
7. Summers County (15) — The Class AA Bobcats (10-7) fell to Wyoming East and Summers County early in the week, but they rebounded in a big way, knocking off Liberty and Independence to regain some confidence.
8. Princeton (12) — The Class AAA Tigers (15-4) thrashed Oak Hill to end another strong week. They'll have a chance to prove they belong among the Associated Press top 10 when they travel to Greenbrier East on Tuesday.
9. Valley (9) — The Class A No. 10 Greyhounds (11-6) picked up big wins over Greenbrier West and Class AAA Oak Hill early in the week but ran out of steam with losses to Buffalo and Clay-Battelle in the Hometown Invitational Tournament.
10. Greenbrier West (6) — The Cavaliers (11-4) suffered a disappointing loss to Valley early in the week but rebounded to down Nicholas County and Richwood to erase that memory.
Others receiving votes: Liberty 4, Nicholas County 3, Meadow Bridge 1, Shady Spring 1
1. Westside (49) — The Class AA No. 1 Renegades won two games this week including an eye-popping 97-6 defeat of Class AAA Oak Hill. They're on course to possibly win back-to-back state championships.
2. Greenbrier East (46) — The defending Class AAA champion Spartans (17-0) are flirting with a perfect season after three more wins this week over Charleston Catholic, George Washington and Logan. They're still No. 1 in Class AAA.
3. Princeton (38) — The Tigers (15-3) hope to give the Spartans some trouble within their own region. Class AAA's fifth-ranked team beat Summers County and Capital this week, before falling to George Washington.
4. Nicholas County (35) — The third-ranked team in Class AA, the Grizzlies (16-2) beat Bluefield and Webster County this week to improve their already impressive resume.
5. Summers County (31) — The No. 6 team in Class AA, the Bobcats (14-5) beat Greenbrier West, PikeView and Charleston Catholic to end the week, after it began with a loss to Princeton.
6. Pocahontas County (25) — Ranked No. 6 in Class A, the Warriors (14-5) lost to Tucker County to start the week but bounced back to down East Hardy and Pendleton County.
7. Fayetteville (16) — The Pirates (13-3) are No. 8 in Class A and could move up after a 4-0 week that included victories over Oak Hill, Richwood, Midland Trail and Montcalm.
8. Valley (10) — The Greyhounds (10-5), No. 9 in Class A, beat Elk Valley Christian early in the week but lost to an unranked Charleston Catholic team at the end.
9. Meadow Bridge (7) — The Class A Wildcats (13-5) beat Hundred in the Hometown Invitational Tournament, after taking out Liberty in convincing fashion earlier in the week.
10. PikeView (5) — The Panthers (8-10) fell a couple points short against Summers County, but they've competed with almost all of the top teams on their schedule, including a win over Summers County earlier this season.
Others receiving votes: Wyoming East 4, Woodrow Wilson 4, James Monroe 2, Bluefield 2, Mount View 1
GAMES TO WATCH
Wyoming East at Woodrow Wilson (Boys)
It will be Senior Night at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center as Andrew Johnson plays his final regular season game in front of the home fans. That's reason enough to go watch the Flying Eagles play, but the 11-game winning streak and a No. 3 state ranking adds to the intrigue.
It should also be a good matchup with a quality Class AA club is Wyoming East looking for a signature win to prove that it will still be a factor when March rolls around.
Summers County at Shady Spring (Boys) — The first meeting between these two clubs came down to the wire, with the Bobcats pulling out a 72-67 victory. This time, the Tigers get the game on their home floor.
Fayetteville at Meadow Bridge (Girls)
Class A No. 8 Fayetteville is in the top AP's top 10, and Meadow Bridge believes it should be. This will be a great chance for the Wildcats to prove they belong.
Westside at Shady Spring (Boys) — The Renegades have won nine straight and are climbing the Class AA rankings. The Tigers, though, would love to pull the upset to try to avenge a 10-point loss in mid-December
Princeton at Greenbrier East (Boys) — The Spartans believe they should be the top seed in the section, thanks to their 17-1 record and their win over Woodrow Wilson in Beckley. But if East is going to have a case, it has to beat the Tigers, the other top team in the section. Woodrow already has a win over Princeton, so East's argument will be weakened if it can't do the same.
Westside at Summers County (Girls) — Two of the top teams in Class AA will go head-to-head when the No. 6 Bobcats meet the No. 1 Renegades. Summers County, which has been one of the most dominant programs in the state over the last decade, can make a major statement that it will still be a factor with a win over the one-loss Westside team.
Webster County at Greenbrier West (Boys) — Knocking off the No. 8 team in Class AA would be a great way for the Cavaliers, who recently beat another solid Class AA team in Nicholas County, to show that they belong back among the top teams in Class A.
Greenbrier East at Fayetteville (Girls)
The game itself is fairly intriguing, with the No. 8 Class A team hosting Class AAA's No. 1, but if Greenbrier East takes care of business early in the week, it could also have some extra meaning. The Spartans host Capital (today), Man (Wednesday), Musselman (Thursday) and Hedgesville (Friday), but if they can get through that stretch without a loss, they'll be playing for a perfect regular season when they head to Fayetteville.
Woodrow Wilson at MSAC Night of Champions (Boys)
The final pairings are not set in stone, but it's likely that the Class AAA No. 3 Flying Eagles will take on Class AAA No. 1 South Charleston in a championship game that should draw a huge crowd.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.