One of the state's top postseason rivalries will have at it again when Tug Valley and Wyoming East collide in the Class AA semifinals at 9:30 a.m. Friday.
It marks the third time in four years the two power programs have met in the state tournament semis, with the Warriors winning the first two meetings in 2009 and 2010.
"They're the bluebloods of double-A, them and Bluefield,'' said Tug Valley coach Garland Thompson. "They're what a basketball team is. We've got our hands full.
"The first year we played them, they had [Gentry] Shrewsbury and they put one on us pretty good. Then a couple years ago we had them by five and let it get away.''
Tug Valley led Wyoming East 63-58 in the 2010 semifinals with less than 50 seconds left in regulation, but lost 67-63 following a flurry of turnovers.
"I'm hoping that's in their minds and in their hearts,'' Thompson said, "and hopefully the third time is the charm. It's going to be a classic game. It'll be a war. Hopefully they'll fill these bleachers up in here.
"Sooner or later, you've got to exorcise some demons and some ghosts. I tell the kids it's their chance to put their footprints in the sand, so to speak. Everybody knows Greg Davis when we won it in '99, so it's these kids' time now, and it starts Friday.''
Hedgesville exit? Not so fast
The annual state basketball tournament puts a premium on area hotel rooms, prompting a well-meaning tourney official to try and hurry the losing teams out of town as quickly as possible.
Before No. 7 Hedgesville was to face No. 2 Wheeling Park in a Class AAA quarterfinal game Wednesday, the official mentioned the room shortage to Hedgesville coach Kelly Church and betrayed his assumption the Eagles would lose their opening game.
"After we turned in our lineup card,'' Church related, "there was a very kind and respectful gentleman who said in the most polite way, 'Hey coach, after tonight's games, the SSAC's having trouble with hotel rooms because of construction. You guys aren't going to stay [after the game]? You're going to go home?' I smiled, tapped him on the bottom and said best of luck.''
Hedgesville edged Wheeling Park 39-37 in overtime Wednesday and will be staying a few more nights. The Eagles will face the South Charleston-Parkersburg winner at 9 p.m. Friday in a semifinal game.