By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
Defending champions Buffalo and Meadow Bridge are the top seeds in their respective divisions of the third annual boys West Virginia Hometown Invitational Tournament.
Coaches from the Southern Regional met Sunday at Valley High School to determine seedings for their portion of the tournament, which overall will feature 24 of West Virginia’s 38 Class A public basketball-playing schools.
Teams will play at their respective schools over the coming weeks, with the championship weekend slated for Feb. 8-9 at the Summersville Arena and Conference Center.
Midland Trail captured the inaugural event in 2011, while Buffalo (Division 1) and Meadow Bridge (Division 2) were winners in 2012.
Four WVHIT games were played in the northern region Friday. St. Marys (70-52 over Valley Wetzel), South Harrison (57-45 over East Hardy), Clay-Battelle (70-47 over Doddridge County) and Tygarts Valley (65-47 over Cameron) earned first-round victories.
Friday, Jan. 25, pairings for the north include: South Harrison at St. Marys, Tygarts Valley at Clay Battelle, Valley Wetzel at East Hardy and Doddridge County at Cameron.
On Tuesday, Jan. 29, the following games for the Division 1 South Regional are scheduled:
n No. 8 Fayetteville at No. 1 Buffalo;
n No. 5 Sherman at No. 4 Richwood;
n No. 7 Man at No. 2 Valley Fayette; and
n No. 6 Midland Trail at No. 3 Greenbrier West.
Division 2 South Regional games set for Friday, Feb. 1, are as follows:
n No. 4 Montcalm at No. 1 Meadow Bridge; and
n No. 3 Van at No. 2 Hannan.
WVHIT President Greg Crist is anticipating the third installment of the tournament.
“We’re starting to grow it,” he said. A goal for the future is to attract more Little Kanawha Conference teams and others from around the state. “It’s becoming even more statewide, and that was our goal.
“And the games are very competitive because of the way we set it up.”
Each team is guaranteed a certain number of games and the chance to play at Summersville during the final weekend.
Crist says the Summersville venue offers a “tournament-type atmosphere.”
“When I was the coach at Trail, I made the state tournament three times, but the (Summersville) atmosphere was as good,” he said.
As the tournament has progressed, an area of disagreement among some has been the implementation of big-schools and small-schools divisions. “I’ve made myself abundantly clear,” Crist said of his preference for one division. “If we want to have a public school, single-A state champion, that’s what we need to have.”
The tournament is sponsored by Southern West Virginia Health System.
Former WVU standout Joe Mazzulla, now an assistant coach at Glenville State College, will sign autographs in Summersville at 6 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 8, the first night of the tourney.
Twenty-two girls teams are currently participating in their initial WVHIT division, with the championships set for Feb. 1-2 at South Harrison High School.