The final week of basketball season for high school boys in the Mountain State is upon us.
Not only do we have head coach Dave Tallman's Blue Eagles from Magnolia playing in today's nightcap inside the Charleston Civic Center against Tolsia with an expected 9 p.m. tip, but St. Marys is the favorite to win Class A and Parkersburg is in the mix in Class AAA.
Overall, I think the boys state tournament is going to be fairly interesting in all three classes.
The Class AA field is loaded with the likes of Bluefield, Tug Valley and Wyoming East holding down the top three seeds.
Magnolia hasn't been healthy of late and the Blue Eagles are going to need some players to step up if they are going to survive and advance very far as the No. 5 seed. There's little question any opponent of the Blue Eagles is going to try and find a way not to allow big man Mark Winters to beat them.
I'd have to say if my team was playing Magnolia, unless I had the athletes to match the likes of Winters, I'd have to probably try to employ the same strategy Ravenswood head coach Mick Price's Red Devils tried in the regional game - take the air out of the ball.
Although coach Price's squad came up just short of pulling off a regional stunner, falling 37-35, coach Price would be the first to tell you his team had its chances.
With that being said, coach Price also was quick to tell me last week after his team lost that you have to give credit where credit is due. He was talking about the fact Magnolia guards Drew Keller and Tyler Myers drained two 3-pointers each.
Although I won't be in attendance to watch Magnolia play fourth-seeded Tolsia, I'm excited for the opportunity to watch St. Marys and PHS play back-to-back contests on Thursday evening.
On paper, one has to really like St. Marys' chances. Coach Mark Barnhart's program has won 23 times in 24 opportunities and takes on No. 8 Pocahontas County at 5:30 p.m. While a Warrior victory would be quite a shocking upset, anytime a team puts up nearly 30 shots from downtown on average in a game anything is possible.
I told my fellow Associated Press boys basketball poll voters to keep an eye out for St. Marys before we voted on the preseason poll. I think it's clear they have the attention of everyone.
Following the St. Marys contest, PHS and head man Jeff Mennillo will take to the floor as the underdog when the No. 6 Big Reds tangle with No. 3 South Charleston. The Black Eagles, who rallied past PHS 65-60 in late January, have more in common with the Big Reds than just being in the Mountain State Athletic Conference. SC lost to double-A programs Tug Valley and Wyoming East this year while PHS was nipped by Magnolia.
Needless to say, two dozen teams have a shot to be one of the final three left standing as champions, but the road isn't going to be easy.
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org