The calendar is working its way toward the middle of January and this week the local high school basketball schedule is loaded with premier matchups. With sectional seeding on the line, wins are becoming much more important every time a team hits the hardwood.
Friday night's schedule for the boys features some of the best games of the week.
Heading up the list of games Friday is a Class AA clash of titans between No. 2 Shady Spring (9-0) and No. 4 Bluefield (7-2).
Bluefield has ruled this side of Region 3 for some time, but the Tigers feel they have the team this year to dethrone the Beavers. The games between the two have been hard-fought, high-energy games and Friday looks to be no different since the floor will be covered with both football and basketball all-state athletes.
Inside the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center will be another Region 3 battle of major significance, this one in Class AAA. Woodrow Wilson will host regional nemesis No. 10 George Washington.
However, Woodrow Wilson (4-4) can't get caught looking ahead to Friday because the Flying Eagles have a home sectional clash with Riverside on Wednesday.
Rick Green's Patriots have been one of the few teams that have been consistently successful against Woodrow inside the Armory. They are currently on a three-game winning streak with solid wins over Capital and St. Albans.
GW will travel to No. 7 Huntington Wednesday before the showdown in Beckley.
As if that was not enough to raise the Friday excitement, Wyoming County chimes in with round two between Wyoming East and co-No. 6 Westside in New Richmond.
The Warriors have a talented team but have struggled so far this season.
After the weekend's action, the uncharacteristic losing streak for East is up to seven games. Prior to Friday's game, East has a road game against quickly improving Independence.
Westside took the first meeting this year with East at the New River CTC Invitational. It was the first win for the Renegades over their county rival since the sectional final two seasons ago.
The Renegades will host Tug Valley Tuesday, a team that knocked off East 69-55 in the Hatfield-McCoy Shootout Friday in Williamson.
Thursday night features the first game between Raleigh County rivals Independence and Liberty in Coal City. This is always a high-energy game, but this year there may be a little extra juice. Indy upset Liberty last year in the sectionals after the Raiders won both regular season matchups.
The Raiders have another sectional clash this week when they travel to Oak Hill Tuesday.
The Red Devils are loaded with sharpshooters and could possibly have point guard Jason Manns back for this game. Manns has been sidelined with an ankle injury and has not played in the last two games, both Oak Hill losses.
Oak Hill travels to Nicholas County Wednesday before heading to Bridgeport Saturday for a 2 p.m. clash with the No. 9-ranked Indians.
In Class A, No. 8 Greenbrier West (6-0) will look to remain undefeated in a week that features two border rivals. Jared Robertson's Cavaliers travel to Summers County Tuesday before hosting Meadow Bridge Friday.
Greater Beckley Christian is ranked No. 3 in Class A and will travel to Mount View Friday before hosting Trinity Christian Saturday.
The girls schedule doesn't have quite the heavyweight battles as the boys. However, there is still plenty of high quality action this week.
Wyoming East finds itself in an unusual spot sitting just outside the Class AA top 10 in the AP Poll. That could change Monday when the newest poll is released, but the focus this week for the Lady Warriors has to be on the court.
Tuesday East heads to Gardner for a clash with No. 10 PikeView before hosting Bluefield Thursday.
Angie Boninsegna's team lost to PikeView at the New River CTC Invitational last week, but played without all-state guard Sky Davidson. Davidson is expected to be good to go Tuesday.
East may be without freshman guard Abby Russell, who injured an ankle in the Oak Hill win. The Lady Panthers will play without senior guard Makenzee Shrewsbury, who was hurt last week against Woodrow Wilson.
After a disappointing game against Wyoming East last week, Oak Hill easily has the toughest schedule on the girls side.
The Lady Red Devils travel to Bluefield Monday and to PikeView Thursday. They close out the week at home against Class AAA No. 6 South Charleston.
Shady Spring (5-4) and Westside (7-3) highlight Wednesday's schedule in what should be a good game.
The Lady Tigers have been road warriors this year and will be playing just their second home game of the season. In their first home game Thursday, Shady knocked off a good Midland Trail team.
Class A No. 3 Summers County (8-3) dropped a tough road contest at No. 7 Pocahontas County Friday night and will look to rebound Wednesday at Meadow Bridge.
Friday night the Lady Bobcats host sectional rival Greenbrier West in what appears to be an intriguing game.
The Lady Cavs head into the week on a four-game winning streak and have strong senior leadership, but they will be heavily tested by the pressure of Summers' swarming defense. West travels to Nicholas County Tuesday.
With a win over Teays Valley Christian Saturday night, Greater Beckley Christian has quietly moved its record to 7-2 on the year. Tuesday night the Lady Crusaders have a big challenge when they host Charleston Catholic. A win would definitely open some eyes.
Class AAA No. 7 Woodrow Wilson has three games this week, the first two on the road. The Lady Flying Eagles open the week Tuesday at Riverside before a huge showdown in Charleston at No. 9 George Washington the following night.
Brian Nabors' crew ends the week Saturday night hosting Princeton in a key sectional game.
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