CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The Class AAA Region 3 event was already stacked, owing to early season bursts by South Charleston, Woodrow Wilson, Greenbrier East and Capital.
Now add improving George Washington to the mix, and it should make for one memorable event come March.
Those five teams are currently ranked among the state's top 10 and sport a combined record of 65-17 heading into this week - with seven of those 17 losses inflicted by each other (see box, Page 4B).
Of course, only two of those five can make it to the state tournament March 19-22 at the Charleston Civic Center, and that doesn't discount the possibility of one of the other teams in the region making a postseason run, like Riverside did when knocking off GW in the sectionals last winter.
"I'm not really sure that home court will matter in the sectionals,'' said GW coach Rick Greene. "It's just going to be a war to try and get to Friday [the sectional finals]. It's really just trying to stay alive. I don't know how that will pan out.''
Seeding for the Region 3 sectionals and regionals will be done in about two weeks, and right now it's anybody's guess how the numbers will fall after SC (17-1), which is 6-1 against teams in the region, losing only 72-71 at Capital on Jan. 9.
The Black Eagles play only two more Region 3 teams before the end of the regular season - a team to be determined in the MSAC finals on Saturday (most likely Woodrow or GW) and Shady Spring on Feb. 25.
Among the top contenders in the region, here are current records against all other Region 3 teams this season (with results of note) - SC 6-1, Capital 5-1 (split with GW), Greenbrier East 3-0 (beat Woodrow, which was missing two starters), Woodrow 4-2 (lost to SC, East) and GW 5-3 (split with Capital, lost to SC by one point and Woodrow by seven).
Seeding will determine home court sites for the sectional games, with sectional winners getting the home floor against sectional losers in the regional co-finals.
GW growing up
The laboratory experiment that is George Washington's basketball team is starting to take an interesting turn.
The Patriots took an extremely inexperienced corps of returning players and added one of the state's most-polished players and - viola! - has maintained its status as one of the top contenders in Class AAA, winning its last five games.
The key figure, of course, is 6-foot-3 senior guard Jon Elmore, who has already signed with VMI. Elmore started for two seasons at South Charleston (making the state tournament each year) before transferring to Christ School in Arden, N.C., last winter, where he cemented his Division I status and played 40 games in the prep ranks.
Elmore leads West Virginia players in scoring average at 30.2 points, but just as importantly, has made the players around him better.