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Woodrow's big win could shake up postseason seeding

Chris Dorst
South Charleston's Trevond Reese looks to pass around Woodrow Wilson's Brent Osborne (44) and Nequan Carrington (42).

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Woodrow Wilson's convincing victory over South Charleston in Saturday's MSAC Night of Champions may have done more than snap a couple of lengthy SC win streaks.

It may also have altered the dynamic for the upcoming sectional and regional tournament seedings.

Woodrow (17-4), now riding a 13-game win streak, lost in its only meeting with sectional rival Greenbrier East earlier this season, but gained a lot of style points with Saturday's 77-60 triumph over SC, which had won 13 in a row itself and 40 straight Mountain State Athletic Conference games.

SC (18-2) was also the only Class AAA school that had not lost to a West Virginia opponent all season. Its only previous setback was to Kentucky power Madison Central (24-5).

The Flying Eagles don't get another shot at Greenbrier East in the regular season, but South Charleston does on Thursday. If SC should knock off East, perhaps that would be enough for Woodrow to claim the top sectional seed and the home court in a potential showdown with East.

Woodrow Wilson coach Ron Kidd wasn't quite ready to stamp his team as a top contender, even though the Flying Eagles should go up to No. 2 when the AAA rankings are released today.

"We've still got to improve,'' Kidd said, "and get better at some things because I feel like we had a whole lot of turnovers [against SC]. To be a state champ, you can't turn the ball over. You've got to be poised and be able to protect the ball.''

SC coach Vic Herbert, meanwhile, was asked if Saturday's loss might drop his team below Woodrow in the minds of coaches seeding the regional teams for the eventual state tournament field - that is, if both teams wind up advancing to the Civic Center.

"Yeah, that's possible,'' Herbert said, "depending on how we finish out. They've lost four, we've lost two. We beat them on their home court, they beat us on ours. It could affect seeding if we're both lucky enough to make it to the state tournament. I hope it doesn't, but it could.''

More than a win

Herbert Hoover's against-the-odds upset of No. 2 Poca at the final buzzer in overtime Friday night not only gave the Huskies added confidence for the stretch run, it may have given them the inside track to something far greater.

If Nicholas County loses to either Sissonville or Clay County this week, then Hoover will take the No. 2 seed in AA Region 4 Section 1, giving the Huskies home-court advantage for the first round.

If Hoover wins that game, it's assured of making the sectional finals, which means it's in the regional regardless of how it does in that game. Regional winners advance to the state tournament, where the Huskies have never been.

"We feel like if we get that home court, we get a chance to get into the sectional finals,'' said coach Jeff Gandee, "and that gets you to the regionals - one shot to get there [to the Civic Center].

"We've been coaching these kids since they were fifth graders, and we feel like [the state tournament] is a goal we set for these kids. We kept them as a school team in AAU season. We didn't recruit AAA players. We played our school team against AAU teams. That makes it tough to compete in the early years, but the whole seven-year plan was to build your team so that hopefully when you're seniors, maybe we'll get a shot to do something the school's never done in its history - and that's put the boys team in the state basketball tournament.''

Gandee thinks his team has a definite shot in a one-game regional showdown with any of the other schools in Section 2 - Tolsia, Scott, Chapmanville, Mingo Central or Wayne.

"That's our big goal,'' Gandee said, "and it's a seven-year goal. We've been working toward it in-season and during the offseason. We talked about it the other day, 'Guys, it's still in our reach. All that work and all that commitment.'

"We're knocking on the door to put the final page in the chapter of that story that we've been writing since seven years ago. You'll get one shot. I feel like we've got a chance to beat anybody on the other side. We've got a legitimate chance. We've got an opportunity here, but it's up to us. An opportunity is just an opportunity - it's what you make of it.''

Cody Morris, a 6-foot-6 senior and the team's top scorer, succinctly summed up the key win over Poca.

"This goes to show us that if we can play with anybody in the state, we can be in Charleston in March,'' he said.

GW: Getting wins

This season wasn't supposed to be an automatic success for George Washington, even though the Patriots had played in the two previous Class AAA title games.

With just one of its top six scorers returning, GW might have fallen back in the pack in the MSAC. Only it didn't work out that way.

The Patriots improved to 16-4 with Saturday's nail-biting 51-50 win over Hurricane in the MSAC consolation game, giving GW four wins in the last month over teams that have been ranked at one time or another in AAA this season.

Earlier in the week, GW shaded No. 5 Parkersburg South 53-48 in overtime at the Civic Center - another big step for the Patriots.

"As much as any program, I respect Parkersburg South,'' said GW coach Rick Greene. "They're kind of the trifecta this year - talented, with veteran players and outstanding coaches. They're very classy, and we have an outstanding relationship with them. Any time you can beat them in a scrimmage, anything, it means a lot to you. But with them ranked, it's a big win for us.''

Luke Eddy, GW's returning all-stater and state player of the year candidate, said the program hasn't lowered its goals despite the lack of experience.

"Our chances of making the state tournament . . . it's going to be a tough road,'' he said, "but we have to do the little things to get there. We have to get back on defense. Being strong with the ball in traps. Those are the things we need to do.''

Poca faces

No one had a tougher week than AA No. 2 Poca, which lost its only two games in strangely similar fashion.

In both a 45-43 setback at Nitro and a 46-45 OT loss at Hoover, the Dots were playing defense in the final seconds when the ball was knocked loose, only to see a favorable bounce wind up in the hands of the home team, which hit a short shot at the buzzer.

Dots coach Allen Osborne, however, doesn't think a hangover will affect his squad as the regular season winds down this week.

"We told them we've got some tough games left,'' Osborne said of this week's schedule against Scott, Wayne and Charleston Catholic. "If we handle it right, it prepares us for the tournament, win or lose.

"It's a good situation. Unfortunately, it doesn't feel good when you lose. You want to be successful. The situations we've been in this week will help us in tournament time because tournament games are close. Hopefully we learned from it and will get better. These are all practice games, anyway.''

Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazette.com.


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