No. 4 Poca (11-1) - Strength: All five starters can do a little bit of everything, even freshmen Elijah Cuffee and Luke Frampton, who are now fully integrated into the squad. All five can score in double figures, all five can grab between four and eight rebounds, and all five can whip a bounce-pass for a backdoor layup if your defense overplays or doesn't pay attention.
Weakness: A front line of 6-4 Luke Frampton, 6-1 Cuffee and 6-1 Matt Chandler is hardly imposing, although it gets the job done on the boards most nights. The Dots might get a lift if 6-3 senior Jake Payne, a former starter, gets cleared to return following a foot injury that's caused him to miss nearly the entire season. He's expected back by the end of the month. Veteran coach Allen Osborne has also been preaching improvement on defense and a bit more patience on offense - running the sets a little longer to get better shots.
Quote: "I don't see how people can beat them at the state tournament. I've known Allen a long time and I told him this is one of the better teams he's ever had.'' - Sam Cochenour, Wayne coach.
Outlook: Since the Dots prefer a quick pace, scoring 70 or more points in eight of their first 12 starts, they might have to watch out for someone in their section or region (Chapmanville, Scott?) really trying to slow it down and bang the boards with their big men. Tournament chances: Very good.
No. 3 Charleston Catholic (8-5) - Strength: Two possible first-team all-state players in senior guard Garret McCarty (20.0 points, five assists) and senior forward Nick George (18 points, 10 rebounds), as well as a strong postseason tradition and a resolve to continue that tradition.
Weakness: The flip side. The Irish need to develop another consistent scorer (or two) to complement McCarty and George, who scored 69 percent of the team's points during a recent eight-game stretch. The return of 6-5 senior Patrick Herlihy, who missed most of three games with an injury, could help in that respect, as he's averaging about nine points.
Quote: "There are little things that make a difference if you want to win big games or close games or state championships, and we will grow into those and fix those.'' - Catholic coach Bill McClanahan.
Outlook: More losses than we're used to seeing from the Irish just past midseason, including three in a row last week. Those setbacks came to good teams - Wheeling private school power Linsly (11-3), three state-ranked top-five teams - Poca, Notre Dame, Wheeling Central - and Bishop Donahue on the road. Catholic has also beaten four ranked teams battling its kamikaze schedule. Will likely run into No. 1 St. Joseph in the Region 4 Section 2 finals. Tournament chances: Good.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.