By Cam Huffman
The high school basketball season is quickly winding to a close. The girls’ postseason has already begun, and the boys will begin next week. For basketball fans in the Mountain State, there really is no better time of the year.
With postseason play beginning, this will mark the final week of The Register-Herald Power Rankings. 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 Princeton, for example, doesn’t mean that we believe Greater Beckley is a better team and would beat the Tigers in a head-to-head battle. It simply means that we believe Greater Beckley is a stronger force within Class A than Princeton 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 — rank their top 10 boys teams and top 10 girls teams each week. Teams 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 are be tallied and the teams ranked in order.
Here are this week’s power rankings, with total votes in parentheses.
1) Woodrow Wilson (48) — The Class AAA No. 3 Flying Eagles (17-4) have now won 13 straight, including the win over No. 2 South Charleston in the MSAC championship game Saturday night.
2) Bluefield (47) — Still No. 1 in Class AA, the Beavers’ only losses this season came to a pair of Class AAA powers in Princeton and Greenbrier East. They’re now 18-2.
3) Greenbrier East (40) — The Class AAA No. 4 Spartans’ loss to Princeton on Tuesday was a major blow. East (17-2) will now likely be the No. 2 seed in what is one of the most difficult sectionals in the state, along with Princeton and Woodrow Wilson.
4) Westside (35) — The Class AA No. 6 Renegades (15-6) are putting together their own impressive steak. They’ve now won six straight and should be major players in the AA race.
5) Greater Beckley (29) — The Class A No. 7 Crusaders (14-3) responded from their narrow loss to Class A No. 1 Tug Valley by taking home the championship in the West Virginia Christian Athletics Tournament. They’ve proven they can play with anybody on their level.
6) Princeton (23) — The Class AAA No. 12 Tigers gained some major momentum with a win over Greenbrier East early in the week, but much of that was erased with a lopsided loss to Huntington later. Princeton (16-5) will have to show more consistency in the sectional tournament.
7) Valley (11) — The Class A No. 10 Greyhounds (14-6) picked up a big win at Meadow Bridge over the weekend. They’re heading toward the postseason with some momentum.
8) Greenbrier West (7) — The Class A No. 12 Cavaliers (14-5) fell just one bucket short against Class AA No. 8 Webster County over the weekend. With plenty of talented pieces, West is coming together at the right time.
9) Liberty (6) — Wins over Sissonville and Oak Hill this past week helped the Class AA Raiders improve to 13-7. They’ll get a tough test against Westside today, with a chance to prove they’re a contender.
10) Summers County (4) — The Class AA Bobcats (11-8) fell to Shady Spring last week but bounced back by scoring 84 points in a win over PikeView.
1) Westside (49) — The Class AA No. 1 Renegades (20-1) showed their strength with a dominating performance against Summers County and a convincing win over Logan last week. They’ll be the top seed in the sectional that begins this week.
2) Greenbrier East (46) — The Class AAA No. 1 Spartans finished off a 22-0 regular season by winning five games in six days last week. They’ll be the top seed in sectional play beginning this week, but they’ll have to beat a good Princeton squad to earn the sectional crown.
3) Princeton (39) — The Class AAA No. 6 Tigerettes took third place in the MSAC with a win over Cabell Midland Thursday. They’re now 17-4 and will be the No. 2 seed in sectional play, which begins Wednesday against Woodrow Wilson.
4) Nicholas County (32) — The Class AA No. 3 Grizzlies held off Class AA No. 5 Clay County on Friday to improve to 17-3. They’ll face the Poca-Herbert Hoover winner Wednesday in sectional play.
5) Pocahontas County (30) — The Class A No. 6 Warriors (15-5) knocked off Charleston Catholic to end the regular season. They’ll be the top seed in the section tournament and will play their first game on Thursday.
6) Summers County (23) — The Class AA No. 6 Bobcats (14-7) took a rare uppercut last week when they were blown out by No. 1 Westside. They’ll be the second seed in the sectional but would have to upset the Renegades to claim a title.
7) Valley (18) — The Class A No. 11 Greyhounds should be a big threat in the postseason, which will begin this week with sectional play
8) Meadow Bridge (16) — Unranked in Class A, the Wildcats (15-5) made a statement that they should be included with a win over No. 8 Fayetteville last week. They followed that up with a win over Greenbrier West in sectional play.
9) Fayetteville (14) — After falling to Meadow Bridge early in the week, the Class A No. 8 Pirates (15-6) were impressive in a lopsided win over Independence. They were blown out by Class AAA No. 1 Greenbrier East, but the coaches are confident that experience will help in sectional play, which begins this week.
10) PikeView (6) — The Class AA Panthers (11-10) got back over .500 this week and seem to be reaching their full potential heading into the postseason.
GAMES TO WATCH
Liberty at Westside — Westside is cruising right along and playing some of its best basketball of the season. Liberty, though, is also playing better and is looking to make a statement. This should be an interesting preview of a possible sectional matchup.
Summers County at Greenbrier West — The Cavaliers took Class AA Webster County to the wire last week. Now they’ll get a chance against another strong AA team and a nearby rival as both teams look to get their engines tuned up for the postseason.
Wyoming East at Bluefield — The Warriors have slipped a little in recent weeks, but a win over the No. 1 team in Class AA could be the perfect recipe for getting that confidence back as sectional play approaches.
Richwood at Shady Spring — This game is noteworthy as it will be Senior Night for the Tigers. That means the school’s all-time leading scorer, Chase Connor, will be in action for the final time in front of the home fans.
Woodrow Wilson at Oak Hill — The Flying Eagles will put their 13-game winning streak on the line against an Oak Hill team that has struggled to pick up wins this season but has played almost every opponent close.
Greenbrier East at South Charleston — The Spartans have been almost ignored in recent weeks after falling to Point Pleasant and Princeton and watching rival Woodrow Wilson get on a roll. Beckley destroyed No. 2 South Charleston on Friday, but Greenbrier East can keep pace if it too can pull off an upset.
Greater Beckley at Magnolia — The Crusaders couldn’t get that signature win against No. 1 Tucker County, falling just a couple points short. But they’ll get another chance this week on the road against the No. 4 team in Class A.
Sectional play has begun, making every game critical for every team from this point forward. View the area sectional schedule on the scoreboard page to find out all the key matchups.
— E-mail: email@example.com and follow on Twitter @CamHuffmanRH.