There's also a different look to the fourth Hometown Invitational Tournament, which competes with a field of 22 public school Class A teams in two divisions (see pairings, Page 2B).
For the first time, the HIT ditched its format of having the North and South division teams squaring off against each other in the opening rounds, instead setting up some long (and some interesting) road trips against unfamiliar foes.
Thus, you have games like Valley Wetzel at Buffalo and East Hardy at Greenbrier West, both on Friday.
"A lot of people wanted to play someone out of their area,'' said Buffalo coach Chuck Elkins.
Elkins noted that a few teams in the HIT field already play some of their closer rivals up to five times in a season because they're in the same sections or regions, or compete in the same holiday tournaments.
"You want to get a little variety in this,'' Elkins said. "Some teams play the same teams year after year after year.''
South rises again
Parkersburg South is enjoying its best season since perhaps 2003, the year of its only Class AAA state title.
The Patriots' 10-0 start is the best in school history, bettering the 9-0 mark posted by the 1981 team, which fell on a shot at the buzzer to crosstown rival Parkersburg in its 10th game.
The second half of the season looks a bit more difficult for South, with another game scheduled against Wheeling Park (Feb. 7) as well as dates against Hurricane (Jan. 31 in Beckley during the Big Atlantic Classic), Woodrow Wilson (Feb. 19) and GW (Feb. 27).
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.