As the curtain opened Monday on a new high school basketball season, a few local teams are looking to remain major contenders for state championships.
Class AAA George Washington and Class A Charleston Catholic each made trips to the state tournament finals, with the Irish coming out on top and the Patriots coming within one point of back-to-back titles.
For George Washington, a 33-32 loss to Hedgesville prevented the Patriots from becoming the first Class AAA back-to-back champion since Huntington's run of three in a row in 2005-2007.
If the Patriots are to return to the promised land once again, the team will have to rely heavily on senior point guard Luke Eddy, the team's only returning starter.
"I think in the middle of last year it just kind of clicked for him," GW coach Rick Greene said of Eddy. "He could always play — he's been a good player since he was a freshman. I just thought in the middle of last year he jacked it up a notch. He really got the grasp of everything he needed to do for the team."
For the record, Eddy averaged 16 points per game last season and that number will likely have to increase this year. A large reason is the loss of seniors Dustin Crouser and Cole Salmons, both of whom were injured during football season.
Add to that losing Tino diTrapano, Thomas Francke, and Darian Williams to graduation and Ryan Switzer choosing not to play, and Greene and the Patriots have a lot of work to do.
"It's been one of the best runs period and definitely the best one here at GW," Greene said. "This was the first group of kids in school history to make three straight state tournaments. When you do that, you have talent and kids that are unselfish."
As for Catholic, the Irish buzzed through the Class A field to claim its third crown in seven years. Catholic also finished as the state runner-up three times in a row during that stretch (2008-2010).