aPivotal best describes Wood County Christian's situation heading into the next several days of the boys basketball season.
Pending tonight's weather situation, the Wildcats entertain Teays Valley Christian then travel to Grace Christian on Monday. Both games are crucial to securing the program's possible No. 1 seed for the West Virginia Christian Athletic Tournament scheduled later this month.
If last week's performance by WCCS at the Bob Jones Invitational is any indication, Teays Valley and Grace better have their 'A' game ready. Three wins in three days resulted in the Wildcats successfully defending their title in Greenville, S.C.
Junior Jacob Ungar averaged 14.3 points and received Most Valuable Player honors for the tournament, while senior Eric Grubbs also landed a spot on the all-tournament team after dishing out seven assists in the championship game.
"It's a nice opportunity to face different competition at the Bob Jones Invitational," WCCS coach Dan Ellis said. "The teams were very competitive."
After wrapping up a perfect January, WCCS split a pair of games earlier this week after defeating Grace 47-45 behind Cody Gutberlet's 24 points followed by a two-point loss at Waterford (59-57), which avenged a loss to WCCS earlier in the season.
"I think the home court made Waterford want to win it even more," Grubbs said. "Plus, we just came out flat."
It doesn't get any easier against Teays Valley. Even though WCCS owns two wins in as many meetings this season, the Lions are dangerous as long as Noah Osborne has the ball in his hands. The senior knocked down seven 3-pointers and finished with 41 points in a recent loss to Grace.
"We've used an extended 3-2 zone against him - the key is to take away the dribble-drive," Ellis said. "He has tremendous range and it's been a challenge each time we have played him."
The 15-4 Wildcats have enjoyed their share of highlights. Consider their victories over members from the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission - Wahama and Wirt County. Against Wahama, Grubbs produced a double-double after handing out a career-high 12 assists to go with 10 points.
Yet, it is not just Ungar and Grubbs who the Wildcats depend on. A total of six team members are averaging anywhere between seven and 11 points per game.
"When one person has a bad game, another person usually steps up like Cody did (off the bench) against Grace," Grubbs said.
If there is one area WCCS is trying to refine their skills and make improvements, it's at the free-throw line. The Wildcats made just 43 percent (6-of-14) in Tuesday's loss at Waterford.
"Our free-throw shooting has been inconsistent," Ellis said. "That was something that hurt us in the game at Waterford and cost us a game at the Gilead Christian Holiday Tournament."
Once they iron out that phase of the game, WCCS has all the makings of dethroning defending state champion Teays Valley at the state tournament Feb. 18-20 at Summersville Arena.
Contact Kerry Patrick at firstname.lastname@example.org