CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- What goes around, comes around. And it sure came back full circle for the 100th boys basketball state tournament that wrapped up Saturday at the Civic Center.
For the first time since the coaches seeding process was adopted in 2005, all three teams seeded No. 1 captured titles - Martinsburg (AAA), Bluefield (AA) and Tug Valley (A).
Those three teams were also ranked No. 1 in their respective classes in The Associated Press state media poll at the end of the regular season. In fact, the three title games matched teams seeded 1-2 in AAA and AA and 1-3 in Class A.
It certainly was a far reach from last year, when none of the top seeds triumphed - No. 2s won in AA and A and No. 7 Hedgesville completed a wild run in AAA by taking its first title since 1970. Higher seeds went 1-6 in the AAA tournament last year, with the only win coming from No. 1 Martinsburg against No. 8 Logan, and No. 1s still haven't lost to a No. 8 yet in any class, going 27-0.
The star of stars last week had to be Martinsburg senior forward Donte' Grantham, known as Buddha to his teammates and even coaches for his stoic expressions.
The 6-foot-7 Grantham, being recruited by several Division I schools, including West Virginia, averaged 18 points and 13 rebounds in his three tournament games and also chipped in eight assists, six blocked shots and two steals and threw down three slam dunks.
His steady play was magnified because no other Martinsburg player averaged double figures in scoring in those three games. He also never came off the floor, playing all 32 minutes in each game as the Bulldogs won by margins of 10, three and five points, the latter coming against Woodrow Wilson in the finals.
Grantham, considered a top candidate for the state player of the year honor, was ecstatic that the AAA basketball title remained in the Eastern Panhandle and that Martinsburg had pulled off a rare football-basketball double in the same school year.
"We're gonna keep the rings in the EP,'' he blurted in the postgame interview room.
Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers was pleased his players could finally cash in their status for a title. The Bulldogs had been ranked No. 1 much of the past two seasons.
"This is a very special group of young men,'' Rogers said. "They are as good off the court as they are on the court. You don't hear negative things about them.
"They've traveled all over the country the last couple of years - Myrtle Beach, Ohio, New York - and just had a great time. They've played a very, very tough schedule this year against some great teams, and Beckley certainly is a great team.''
Martinsburg also got a welcome boost from 6-5, 270-pound senior Eugene German, an all-state lineman on the school's three-time champion football team.
German hit all four of his shots for eight points in Saturday's 57-52 win, grabbed four rebounds and swiped the ball twice. He joined Grantham and teammate Jalen Lewis on the all-tournament team.
"There was a period when he wasn't sure whether he wanted to play or not [after football season],'' Rogers said. "He did and then he didn't, then he did and didn't. But we're sure glad he did. The first quarter was the best quarter he played all year. He was like a man possessed, shooting and rebounding the ball.''
On the other side of the floor, Woodrow Wilson came up short in its bid for a 17th state title - more than any other school - and was also trying to become the 12th Mountain State Athletic Conference program to win a Class AAA crown in the past 17 years.
Despite the close loss, it was a satisfying finish for the Flying Eagles, who had doubts early in the season when they started out 4-4, including three straight home losses and five straight games under 60 points.
"Our own people counted us out,'' said Woodrow coach Ron Kidd. "Our own newspaper counted us out. We showed what pride and tradition are all about in Beckley.
"We always expect to be here, even though we lost those games. We felt we'd getter better because we were practicing hard and trying to get better. I always feel pretty good about this team. Good things happen when you work hard.''
The Eagles' run brought an end to the career of senior point guard Andrew Johnson, a three-year starter and also the school's quarterback in football. Johnson averaged 17.6 points, 6.3 assists and 5.8 rebounds in the tournament.
"We'll surely miss him a whole lot,'' Kidd said. "He played good and at the end of the season, he carried us on his back the way a senior should. It's a big loss to our program.''
But the tournament also gave rise to perhaps a new star for the Beckley school in 6-3 freshman Nequan Carrington, who averaged 10.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in three games.
"It's scary what he can be as a senior,'' Johnson said. "I'm kind of jealous of him. My freshman year, I didn't even go to the tournament, and his freshman year he's in the state championship. I'm jealous of him.''