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Home court key in girls regional co-finals

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Home has never sounded sweeter than this week.

The prize for last week's sectional tournament champions is hosting the biggest game of their season while the runner-ups must find a way to win on the road when the regional co-finals tip off Tuesday (Class AAA), Wednesday (AA) and Thursday (A) around the Mountain State.

The winners of the two co-regional games advance to the state tournament, which will take place March 6-9 at the Charleston Civic Center. (See Page 2B for regional co-finals pairings.)

George Washington, which finished ninth in the final Associated Press poll, will host No. 7 Princeton in AAA Region 3 while Capital visits No. 1 and defending state champion Greenbrier East.

In AAA Region 4, St. Albans hosts Logan and Winfield visits No. 2 Spring Valley. Charleston Catholic makes a trip to Williamstown in Class A Region 4.

The other two defending state champs are still alive, with top-ranked Westside hosting Bluefield in AA Region 3 and No. 1 St. Joseph, the four-time defending titlist, is home against No. 6 Parkersburg Catholic.

Logan may be the most comfortable team on the road this postseason after dispatching No. 3 Huntington on its home floor in the semifinals of the sectional tournament, then falling by one point to No. 2 Spring Valley in the title game.

Other notable ranked teams dispatched during sectional play include No. 3 Robert C. Byrd in AA and No. 5 Clay-Battelle and No. 10 Meadow Bridge in Class A.

SA coach Scott James knows exactly how important it is to be on your home court this time of year. The Red Dragons also captured their first sectional title in quite some time.

"It means everything in the world,'' he said. "[Our players] didn't have the confidence and the energy they should have had with an opportunity to go to the state tournament [the last several times we played the regional co-finals away from home].

"The girls are fired up. We've got a lot of momentum. They've exceeded a lot of people's expectations. I want the people of St. Albans to come out and support the Red Dragons. We need a packed gym.''

GW is getting on one of its patented rolls as it has the past two years when it went all the way to the AAA semifinals.

"I feel a whole lot better playing here in Kanawha County at GW than going down the turnpike, and that's something we addressed,'' said Patriots coach Jamie LaMaster. "We like to play here. We don't want to travel for that game."

The Patriots should be brimming with confidence after strolling through their sectional tournament, winning two games by an average of 311/2 points. GW has also already defeated Princeton at home a couple of weeks ago to lockup the East Division of the Mountain State Athletic Conference.

"That's huge," said GW junior post Kelli Jo Harrison of the home-court advantage. "Traveling all the way down to where we would have to play wouldn't be good for us. Being here is good for us. We'll have confidence"

Staff writer Ryan Pritt contributed to this article.

Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at takinson@wvgazette.com or 304-348-4811.


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