PARKERSBURG - The road to "Championship Saturday" begins at 9 p.m. Wednesday for three area teams looking to bring a state boys' basketball championship back to the Mid-Ohio Valley.
No. 5 seeded (Class AA) Magnolia (20-4) gets things started when the Blue Eagles tangle with No. 4 Tolsia (18-7) in the final game of the first day of action at the 99th W.Va. Boys State Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
No. 1 St. Marys (23-1) starts its run toward a Class A state title at 5:30 p.m. on Thursday when the Blue Devils take on No. 8 Pocahontas County (14-11) while the Big Reds from Parkersburg (19-6), seeded No. 6 in the Class AAA field, takes on the Black Eagles from South Charleston (21-4) for the second time this season 20 minutes following the conclusion of the St. Marys/Pocahontas County contest.
Parkersburg's Devin Hoehn goes up for a shot against George Washington's during their West Virginia Class AAA sectional basketball game. (Photo by Jeff Baughan)
Tolsia, who lost to No. 2 seeded Tug Valley in the sectional championship game by a 66-40 score, advanced to the state tournament for the seventh time in school history with a 67-36 win over Poca in the regional round of competition.
The Rebels are led by senior forward Jacob Copley, who averages 23 points per game, while juniors Morgan Stacy and Austin Brewer chip in 13 and 10 points, respectively.
Tolsia started off the season with an 0-2 mark, but then put together an 11-game winning streak before losing in overtime to Chapmanville.
St. Marys' opponent-Pocahontas County-also had to overcome a loss in its sectional championship game to No. 4 Midland Trail (71-49), but moved on to the state's capital by defeating Fayetteville by a 44-35 score in their regional matchup.
The Warriors are a senior dominated squad with only junior forward Tyler Davis cracking into the team's starting five. Senior Dillon Kelley leads the way with an 18.1 point per game average. He is joined in double figures by seniors Jed Sheets and Steve Halterman, who chip in 14.9 and 10.6 points, respectively.
Parkersburg's rematch with Mountain State Athletic Conference rival South Charleston will pit a pair of squads that battled back-and-forth in a late-January contest before the Black Eagles came away with a five-point, 65-60, victory.
South Charleston, the No. 3 seed, advanced to the state tournament via wins over Nitro (86-68) and Winfield (74-60) in sectional play and then eliminated Huntington by a 79-60 margin in the regional championship contest.
Senior guard O.T. Elmore paces the Black Eagles in scoring with a 17 points per game norm while sophomore Jon Elmore is close behind at 14 ppg. Rounding out the team's trio of double-digit scorers is junior forward Trevond Reese, who averages 10 points per game.
"The season has gone better that expected," explained South Charleston head coach Vic Herbert, who led Logan to the state title before moving on to South Charleston. "We only returned two starters back from last season. Accepting roles was a big concern, but the kids have bought in."