Perhaps caught up in the excitement, the Associated Press often lapsed into hyperbole, estimating that 3,000 and sometimes 4,000 fans would attend games in the 1,200-seat gym.
To help the players and coaches enjoy their stay, Wesleyan students worked with each of the teams, ensuring that they had a place to stay and transportation to and from the gym. Massage therapists offered rubdowns for the players after each game and even at halftime.
Teams sometimes practiced at Buckhannon High School's gym a few blocks down College Avenue. Downtown stores decorated their storefront windows with pictures of star players.
The players and coaches generally ate at a Wesleyan dining hall, but fans, media and officials made their way downtown to the Busy Bee Restaurant on South Kanawha Street, the Coney Island Restaurant on East Main and the Palace on North Kanawha.
To accommodate the fans' travel plans, the B&O Railroad increased the number of coaches bound for Buckhannon. Fans unable to find hotel accommodations in Buckhannon stayed in nearby Weston and made the daily commute on special trains assigned to handle the tournament crowds.
Uniformed state policemen worked security at each game and even helped fans find seats.
With 14 teams in the field, the 1915 event was the first to have a true tournament feel. Teams competing were Buckhannon, Charleston, Clarksburg, Elkins, Fairmont, Fairview, Parkersburg, Piedmont, Salem, Sistersville, Thomas, Wellsburg, Weston and Wheeling.
Elkins and Parkersburg were considered the favorites, but Charleston defeated Thomas, Parkersburg and Fairmont to reach the finals and downed Wellsburg 36-24 for the title.
The Charleston starting five consisted of Noyes Palmer, Homer Martin, David Martin, Mayre Stark and Frank Thomas. The reserves were Cyrus Silling, Leonard Lewis, Frederick Lively, Fred White and Mike B'Sherah. The coaches were Rocco Gorman and Norman Baker.
The Mountain Lions stayed with the same five players for the entire tournament, not using a single substitute in any of the four games.
A three-paragraph story appeared on the front page of the next day's Gazette under the headline: "Local High Wins Championship.'' Stark and the two Martins were the "star performers,'' the Gazette reported.
To win the two-day tourney, the Mountain Lions played one game on Friday and three on Saturday.
They wore red-and-blue uniforms in those days and played their home games in the National Guard Armory, a red brick structure that's now home to the Scottish Rite Temple at 406 Capitol Street near Washington Street.
The high school was located on what is now the YWCA parking lot on Quarrier Street but, in a reflection of the city's rapid growth, moved to a new, larger building in January of 1916 on the corner of Morris and Quarrier streets.
After the 1915 title game, Wesleyan president Carl Doney presented the CHS players with a silver trophy, and each Mountain Lion received a gold-colored basketball.
The tournament's growth coincided with and undoubtedly contributed to the emergence of the sports section in West Virginia newspapers - nearly 40 years after William Randolph Hearst in 1885 created the first sports section in the New York Journal.
Not only was the annual state basketball tournament producing a demand for coverage, but West Virginia University football, fueled by the Mountaineers' 10-0-1 record in 1922, had gained such popularity that the school opened 38,000-seat Mountaineer Field in 1925. It added the 6,000-seat Field House three years later. Marshall built 10,000-seat Fairfield Stadium in 1928.
In the first two decades of the 20th century, state newspapers were haphazard in their coverage of high school and college sports, sometimes publishing brief, one-column previews and accounts of games but often ignoring the games altogether.
But by the 1920s, papers had begun devoting space for what is now known as the sports section, and reporters were hired strictly to cover sports. Column writing made its state debut, allowing sportswriters to offer their analyses and insights, take strong partisan stances and, most antagonistically, deliver verbal potshots at rival schools and communities.
In terms of sports journalism, it was a colorful, freewheeling era - and quite provincial. If a local team suffered an especially disappointing loss on the road, the columnist back home might attribute the defeat to "home cooking.''
Or, a columnist might fuel the spread of a delicious rumor, hinting, for example, that a star athlete at one high school might soon be lured away to a rival.
Bill Evans, a 19-year-old sportswriter and columnist for the Fairmont Times, undoubtedly offended the Eastern Panhandle in his preview of the 1927 tournament. "Unless the [panhandle] teams are much better than usual, nothing need be feared,'' Evans wrote, "for never in this writer's recollection have the panhandle teams been anything but cannon fodder for the other outfits in the big meet.''
Huntington Herald-Dispatch columnist Duke Ridgley, writing a day after his beloved Huntington Pony Express defeated the Princeton Tigers for the 1937 championship, gloated at considerable length - and did so in flowery, alliterative language that was common at the time.
"The Red and Blue dribblers,'' he boasted, "not only ambushed the men from Mercer but today they have their basketball boudoir decorated with a beautiful Tiger skin.''
Ridgley even conjured up a betting line after the fact, perhaps to certify the incalculable obstacles the Pony Express was forced to overcome.
"The odds against the Red and Blue rolling home with the potatoes at Buckhannon were 10 to 1,'' he wrote, " but that didn't keep the Cabell cagers from going through the field like nutmeg through a grater.''
The people of Huntington, he noted, were pleased "down to their fingertips.''
To accommodate the increased coverage, the tournament directors established a press row, much like today with assigned seating and nametags for each reporter. Beginning with the 1927 tournament, Western Union telegraph facilities were made available in the gym, allowing sportswriters to transmit stories and information to papers throughout the state.
But after 25 years, capped by overflow crowds in the 1938 finale, the tournament became too much for Buckhannon and the Wesleyan gym.
Daily Mail sports editor Con Hardman apparently knew a change was coming and, on the day after the 1938 tourney, wrote prophetically: "Wesleyan does a great job of putting the tournament over, but under present conditions, the thing has outgrown the ramshackle gym here. Don't be surprised if the meet goes to Morgantown next year.''
Reach Mike Whiteford at mikewhitef...@wvgazette.com.