CHARLESTON – The field for the Class A division of the 100th annual West Virginia State High School basketball tournament is tough.
Tug Valley (22-3), the defending Class AA state champs, will be playing in Single A this year at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Panthers received the No. 1 seed and will take on No. 8 Clarksburg Notre Dame on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m.
Besides Tug Valley, Charleston Catholic (22-3) is the defending Class A team and they are back in the state tourney. The Irish come in as the No. 3 seed. Tug Valley defeated CCHS rather handedly during a regular season game played at the Civic Center. This is the ninth straight year CCHS has been in the state tourney.
Another Class AA team, Magnolia (21-4), also dropped down to Single A. The Blue Eagles have the state’s leading scorer in Mark Winters. The 6-8 Winters averages 28 ppg. Magnolia comes in as the No. 2 seed.
The Blue Eagles have Zack Willhoite who averages 15 ppg. and Preston Boswell with 14 ppg.
Tucker County comes in as the No. 4 seed. They have a record of 20-3. The Mountain Lions were one of Class A’s top ranked teams this season.
Greater Beckley Christian, who lost to Tug Valley in the sectional, but came out of the regional with a win of Valley, is coached by Dan Burd, a former local pastor and coach at the old Mingo Christian school. He is assisted by Beckley legend Dave Barksdale. Barksdale used to be the coach at Woodrow Wilson, and led that school to five state AAA titles.
GBC is led by Javonne Staunton-Bailey with an 18 ppg. average and Keith Mullins, who is scoring 19 per game. This is only the second appearance at the state tourney for GBC.
Buffalo could be a surprise team in Class A. The No. 6 seed has some good athletes including all-state candidate Levi Jordan and Laythen Good. The Bisons were one of the top Class A football teams the last couple of seasons. Most of their good athletes were on both squads.
Another school that is familiar with the surrounding of the state tournament is Wheeling Central Catholic. The Maroon Knights come in with a record of 13-12, and upset St. Marys in the regional to make it to Charleston.
Notre Dame (14-8) of Clarksburg comes in as the No. 8 seed. They are coached by former WVU star Jarrod West. They have three players who average in double figures, including 6-4 junior Cal Cistaro, who scores 19 ppg.
Tug Valley is led by all-state candidates Austin Brewer and Mikey Newsome. They are two seniors averaging 17 and 15 ppg. Brewer also dishes out about seven assists per game and Newsome is known for his 3-point shooting. Another senior, Aaron Muncy, is a returning starter. Senior Corey Dillon, a 6-4 post player, starts at center, while junior Thomas Baisden, who average 12 ppg., will start at forward.
Sophomore Hayden Sturgell has given coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson great play as the 6th man off the bench. Tug Valley has also gotten good minutes off the bench from Aaron Copley, Kyle Newsome and Austin Baisden. All three are sophomores.
Tug Valley has only lost three games this season, one to local Class AAA rival Belfry, one on the road at AA power Westside and the other to Class AAA Greenbrier East on a controversial last second half court shot.
The Panthers own wins over Triple A opponents Logan, Riverside, Huntington and Ashland, Ky. They dominated Class A this season, with an easy win over Charleston Catholic and three victories of Greater Beckley Christian.
The field of eight teams in Class A is strong and this division of the state tournament should be one of the most entertaining at the event. Tug Valley will be right in the thick of things and could just bring back another state championship to Mingo County.
Pairings for the West Virginia boys high school basketball:
No. 2 Woodrow Wilson (21-4) vs. No. 7 Hurricane (20-5), 11:15 a.m.
No. 1 Martinsburg (23-2) vs. No. 8 Huntington (18-6), 7:15 p.m.
No. 4 Washington (20-5) vs. No. 5 Parkersburg South (21-4), 11:15 a.m.
No. 3 South Charleston (23-2) vs. No. 6 Morgantown (19-6), 7:15 p.m.
Martinsburg-Huntington winner vs. Washington-Parkersburg South winner, 5:30 p.m.
Woodrow Wilson-Hurricane winner vs. South Charleston-Morgantown winner, 9 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 7:15 p.m.
No. 3 Westside (19-6) vs. No. 6 Bridgeport (18-7), 9:30 a.m.
No. 2 Fairmont Senior (19-6) vs. No. 7 Scott (15-10), 1 p.m.
No. 1 Bluefield (22-3) vs. No. 8 North Marion (16-8), 5:30 p.m.
No. 4 Robert C. Byrd (19-6) vs. No. 5 Tolsia (17-8), 9 p.m.
Westside-Bridgeport winner vs. Fairmont Senior-Scott winner, 11:15 a.m.
Bluefield-North Marion winner vs. Robert C. Byrd-Tolsia winner, 7:15 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 2:30 p.m.
No. 3 Charleston Catholic (22-3) vs. No. 6 Buffalo (21-4), 9:30 a.m.
No. 2 Magnolia (21-4) vs. No. 7 Wheeling Central (13-12), 1 p.m.
No. 1 Tug Valley (22-3) vs. No. 8 Notre Dame (14-8), 5:30 p.m.
No. 4 Tucker County (20-3) vs. No. 5 Greater Beckley Christian (19-5), 9 p.m.
Charleston Catholic-Buffalo winner vs. Magnolia-Wheeling Central winner, 9:30 a.m.
Tug Valley-Notre Dame winner vs. Tucker County-Greater Beckley Christian winner, 1 p.m.
Semifinal winners, 12 p.m.