By Cam Huffman
Every week, it seems, another area team steps up and sends a message that it has a chance to be a contender by the time tournament play comes along.
Those postseason games in late February and early March will define the 2013 high school basketball season in West Virginia, but some of the possible previews that we’ll see over the next couple of weeks will also provide plenty of entertainment.
Here’s a guide to what area roundball fans should be tracking this week.
GAMES TO WATCH
Rockbridge (Va.) at Greenbrier East — The only undefeated team left in Class AAA, the Spartans will put that record on the line against a solid squad out of Lexington, Va.
Westside at Liberty — The Raiders are knocking on the door of the top 10 in Class AA, and they could bust through it with a win over No. 10 Westside. The Renegades, though, are playing better each week.
Wyoming East at Shady Spring — Shady Spring and state player of the year candidate Chase Connor have caught fire, but a win over Class AA No. 4 Wyoming East would certainly turn a lot of heads. The Warriors, though, are hoping to continue their march toward the top.
Woodrow Wilson at Capital — The Flying Eagles seem to be playing much better basketball after breaking a rare three-game losing streak, but an athletic Capital squad should provide another solid test.
Summers County at Greenbrier West — Greenbrier West, ranked No. 9 in Class A last week, has slipped a little in recent games, but a win over a high-powered group of Bobcats could quickly turn things around.
Princeton at Woodrow Wilson — These two teams, along with Greenbrier East, could make up an entertaining sectional at season’s end, with all three ranked in the top 15 in Class AAA. The Spartans picked up a rare win at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center earlier this year. Can the Tigers do the same, or has Woodrow shaken off the struggles that plagued it early in the year?
Nicholas County at Liberty — Both of these teams are on the verge of the Class AA top 10. The Raiders won the first time around, a six-point victory, but the Grizzlies could make some noise by getting some revenge.
Summers County at Shady Spring — Two prolific scorers will be on the same court when the Bobcats’ TaRon Ayers and Tigers’ Connor go head-to-head.
Greenbrier East at Logan — The second day of the King Coal Classic will put the Spartans up against Logan in a rematch of East’s home win earlier this year. Logan coach Mark Hatcher guaranteed fans and officials that his team would win the rematch, and this will be a chance to prove that the bite matches the bark.
Woodrow Wilson at Shady Spring — The battle between the county’s two biggest schools is always an entertaining one, and it should be even better with both teams now competing on the Class AAA level.
Summers County at Princeton — Class AAA No. 6 (Princeton) and Class AA No. 4 (Summers County) will go head-to-head in this one, and the teams have just four losses between them all season.
Nicholas County at Westside — The Class AA No. 1 Renegades will put their perfect record on the line against the only team that’s really played them well all year, No. 5 Nicholas County, which is looking to avenge its only loss of the season.
Summers County at PikeView — PikeView doesn’t have a great record, but it has played a difficult schedule and performed well, at times. If it wants some respect in Class AA, there’s no better place to find it than against the state’s most dominant program over the last decade.
Greenbrier East at Logan — During the first day of the King Coal Classic, the Spartans will put their perfect record on the line against a strong Logan squad that already has a win over Class AAA Morgantown on its resumé.
Pocahontas County at Tucker County — The Class A No. 8 Warriors won the first meeting between the two schools on a last-second shot and have a chance to make it a season sweep over the No. 6 team in that class with a road victory.
Westside at Summers County — The defending Class AA champs, Westside, match up against the winners of the five prior Class AA titles before the Renegades broke the streak. The house should be packed in Hinton.
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) — No. 1 in Class AA, the Beavers (8-1) got revenge for a football loss to rival Graham (Va.) this week and have now won eight straight games, the only loss to Class AAA Princeton.
2. Greenbrier East (44) — The Class AAA Spartans (12-0) beat Covington (Va.) last week to stay undefeated and are now one of the only perfect teams left at any level across the state.
3. Wyoming East (40) — The Class AA Warriors (9-2) had two big wins over Oak Hill and Scott this past week and seem to have found their stride.
4. Princeton (27) — The Class AAA Tigers (10-3) beat St. Albans this week but fell short in a showdown with George Washington.
5. Greater Beckley (26) — The Crusaders (6-1) beat Sherman and Man this week and are continuing to send a message that they’ll be a factor in Class A.
6. Westside (20) — The Renegades (8-5) beat both Man and Tug Valley last week and are starting to turn some heads in Class AA.
7. Woodrow Wilson (19) — The Flying Eagles (6-4) ended a three-game home losing streak with a win over Nitro and seem to be playing their best basketball of the year in Class AAA.
8. Liberty (13) — The Class AA Raiders (7-3) lost to Class AAA Shady Spring in a tight game but came back to win the battle of the Libertys against Liberty (Harrison).
9. Shady Spring (12) — The Class AAA Tigers (7-4) seem to be playing better every week, and they improved to 2-0 against Liberty this season with another big victory.
T10. Valley (11) — The Class A Greyhounds (6-2) beat Van to start the week but fell to Buffalo to see their undefeated record come to an end and then dropped another to Sissonville.
T10. Summers County (11) — The Class AA Bobcats (8-4) beat both Meadow Bridge and Independence this week and have the area’s top scorer in Ayers.
Others receiving votes: Nicholas County (2).
1. Westside (50) — The defending Class AA champion Renegades (12-0) will be tested this week with games against Scott, Nicholas County and Summers County.
2. Greenbrier East (45) — The defending Class AAA champion Spartans (9-0) saw a weekend trip to the Eastern Panhandle snowed out but have some tough games coming up.
3. Princeton (37) — The Class AAA Tigerettes (10-2) turned back St. Albans and Ripley this week and have a big game at home against Summers County coming up on Tuesday.
4. Summers County (34) — The most successful Class AA program in the state, the Bobcats (11-2) came from 11 points down to pick up a big win over Scott and also beat Wyoming East after a lopsided loss to Westside.
5. Nicholas County (32) — The Grizzlies (13-1) picked up a huge overtime win over Clay County last week to confirm their status as one of Class AA’s top teams.
6. Valley (23) — The Greyhounds (8-2) fell to Herbert Hoover and Sissonville in recent games after starting the season 8-0.
7. Pocahontas County (14) — The Class A Warriors (11-4) picked up a big win over Tygarts Valley and another over Moorefield and have won three straight.
8. PikeView (10) — The Class AA Panthers (5-6) ran into a strong Westside Club this week but were competitive in that game and have played with almost every opponent.
T9. Meadow Bridge (8) — The Wildcats (8-4) fell to Buffalo in the semifinals of the HIT Tournament but are still playing strong enough basketball to get some notice in Class A.
T9. Fayetteville (8) — The Pirates (7-3) lost a heartbreaker to Gilmer County this week but can play with just about any team in Class A.
Others receiving votes: Wyoming East (7), James Monroe (5), Woodrow Wilson (2).
— E-mail: chuffman@
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