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Wyoming East: ‘Where we thought we’d be’

By Dave Miller

The 99th West Virginia high school boys basketball tournament opens with a matchup of an old school with very little basketball history taking on a team that has appeared in the Class AA championship game five times since opening in 1998.

No. 6 Point Pleasant, which makes its first back-to-back trips to the state tournament in school history, battles No. 3 Wyoming East at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Civic Center.

Wyoming East (19-5) returns to Charleston after missing last year's tournament, snapping a streak of four straight appearances. Warriors coach Rory Chapman feels that his team has had a quality season.

"We're exactly where we thought we'd be and where we want to be," said Chapman, who's in his third year at the helm of Wyoming East. "Even though we've lost five games, there's not a bad one among them. We fell to top-seed Bluefield twice and had two losses to a very tough [Class] AAA team Woodrow Wilson. We've had our ups and downs throughout the season, but it has been a successful season so far for us."

The Warriors entered the state tourney with an 88-60 home win over PikeView in the Region 3 co-final. Wyoming East has claimed three Class AA championships, including consecutive titles in 2007-08, while finishing as runner-up the following two years.

"A lot of these guys on the roster were freshmen on those runner-up squads," said Chapman. "They're not going to be satisfied with just one game in Charleston. They want to be there until Saturday."

Wyoming East is led by a trio of seniors, including Marcus Schofield (15 points per game), Luke Campbell (13.0) and Taylor Smith (12.0), who posted 32 points and 10 rebounds in the regional. The Warriors will also look for a defensive presence from sophomore Josh Tunstalle, brother of former Wyoming East standout running back James "Tank" Tunstalle.

Point Pleasant (16-9) seeks its first title in boys basketball. Point's best finish in school history was as runner-up in the 1926 tournament and the 1959 Class AA tournament.

Point Pleasant edged Weir in the Region 1 co-final 48-46 Thursday at Ripley. The Big Blacks started and finished the season strong, but struggled midseason.

"We've had some peaks and valleys this season," said Point Pleasant coach Rich Blain. "We lost our focus a little bit and got away from our toughness. We had a real heart-to-heart after our loss to Roane County and then got back to what we do."

The Big Blacks fell in the quarterfinal round of last year's state tournament to eventual runner-up Scott 57-38. Blain believes that game helped fuel the desire of his team returning to Charleston this season.

"We had several young men from that team last year that got to feel and enjoy that excitement return this year," said Blain, who's in his 12th season at Point Pleasant. "The kids came back very hungry and they put in the work and the commitment in the off-season to get us back. We've been blessed with kids and a staff that work hard and we're now ready to just survive and advance."

Point Pleasant is led by junior Dillon McCarty (17.0) and sophomore Wade Martin (15.0). The Big Blacks will also look to their lone senior Jacob Wamsley in the post and junior Anthony Perry at the point.

The survivor meets the winner of No. 2 seed Tug Valley against No. 7 seed Webster County Friday at 9:30 a.m.

Reach Dave Miller at 304-348-1749 or davemiller3@gmail.com.

 


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