The road back to the Charleston Civic Center figures to be tougher this year as defending Class AA champion Tug Valley and Magnolia, which also made the Class AA field last year, both drop down in classification.
"I think Class A is going to be better than it has been in years, depth-wise," coach Bill McClanahan said. "Everyone acknowledges that Tug Valley and Magnolia are the mountain everybody's got to climb."
Leading scorer Nick George (13.6 points per game) is back to help the Irish attack as is returning senior guard David Godwin.
GW and Catholic weren't the only schools to make an appearance in the big show last season, and it would be a mistake to ignore South Charleston and its recent run of success.
The Black Eagles have made the state tournament in all three seasons under Vic Herbert, and he has five seniors to work with and maybe his best freshman class yet.
"I don't know what [SC's talent] means in wins and losses, but top to bottom this team has a chance to be very special," Herbert said. "This is the deepest team I've ever had. Usually I try to get seven or eight in a rotation but this year we could truly go 10 deep with guys coming off the bench and not lose much."
The Black Eagles will be led by point guard Rashaud Kincaid and fellow seniors Trevond Reese, Hunter Moles, Neal Brown, and Devon Harris.
SC is currently riding a streak of 26 straight Mountain State Athletic Conference wins and 21 consecutive wins at home.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, ryan.pr...@wvgazette.com, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.