Local boys’ Sectional both competitive and talented
Washington has not only been unbeaten this season but the Patriots have been impressive in galloping away from the area’s other Class AAA teams.Few Patriot games have been close. There have been wins over the last two state champions (Hedgesville and Martinsburg) by 30 and 40 points as well as a 100-point game on Senior Night against county rival Jefferson.
Washington has been ranked first in the state since the initial poll was taken in early December.
The Patriots have a combined 10-0 record against their five Sectional rivals — Martinsburg, Hedgesville, Musselman, Jefferson and Spring Mills.
When it defeated Spring Mills earlier in the week, Hedgesville finished its Sectional schedule with a 7-3 record and improved to 14-4 overall. Other than its two losses to Washington, the Eagles fell to Martinsburg in a Sectional game, but had two wins over Musselman.
Martinsburg was 6-4 in its 10 Sectional games, losing two times by convincing scores to Washington (83-49 and 86-68) and also falling once to Hedgesville and Musselman. The Bulldogs were 14-6 overall after tripping Jefferson earlier this week.
Musselman finshed at 5-5 against its Sectional opponents. It lost 91-64 and 87-72 decisions to Washington and also dropped games to Hedgesville (twice) and Martinsburg. The Applemen opened their season with a modest win streak before playing any Sectional schools. All of Musselman’s loses when it was 14-5 overall were to Sectional teams.
Jefferson had played only seven Sectional games when this week began. The Cougars were 1-6 in those games and had lost twice to Washington (95-62 and 100-58). Musselman had twice beaten the Cougars. Both Martinsburg and Hedgesville owned wins over the Cougars with the Bulldogs coasting to a 79-39 win.
The Cougars had season-closing games this week against Martinsburg, Spring Mills and Hedgesville with all three games being played in Shenandoah Junction. Jefferson was 10-8 overall before its flourish of late-season make-ups and final-week games.
Spring Mills, the first-year school in northern Berkeley County, won three times overall when it had games left with both Washington and Jefferson. The Cardinals were 0-8 against Sectional opponents and would be seeded sixth and last in next week’s Sectional tournament.
The two teams that reach the Class AAA, Region II, Section 1 finals will both qualify for the Regional tournament to be held on March 11. The champion will be at home to face the Secton 2 runner-up, a team that will come from Buckhannon, Lewis County, Hampshire and Elkins.
The loser of this area’s Sectional tournament finale will still be alive and will go on the road to face the champion of Section 2 in its one-game Regional.
Buckhannon had an 11-6 record, Lewis County was 13-5, Hampshire 12-7 with games remaining and Elkins was 3-16.
The survivors of the two Region 2 games will both qualify for the eight-team Class AAA state tournament in Charleston.
On the state level, only Wheeling Park (16-5) and Parkersburg South (16-6) are having comfortable seasons from Region 1.
In Region 3, there are four teams that stand over the rest. George Washington was 16-4, South Charleston was 17-1, Capital was 9-4 with make-up games still crowding its weather-torn schedule and Beckley Woodrow Wilson was 15-3 overall. Since George Washington, South Charleston and Capital are all in the same Sectional, only two of those teams can advance to the Regional.
The Region 4 map has standout Hurricane (15-6) and spoiler, Winfield (12-9), as the best it can offer in Section 1.
Huntington had lost its last two games and gone to 16-4 and Spring Valley was 13-6 as the two teams with the best records in Section 2 of Region IV.
Washington remained the only unbeaten team in the state. South Charleston remained the only team with just one loss.
Although it will receive a first round bye in next week’s local Sectional, Washington will have to beat a team with a lofty winning percentage to reach the finals. As long as they keep winning the Patriots will play home games.
Hedgesville, Musselman and Martinsburg are all among the state’s 12 best teams. But at least one of them will not be moving forward to the Regional tournament.
Jefferson has to win two straight games to reach the Sectional finals and also a guaranteed berth in the Regional tournament.
All eight teams qualifying for the state tournament will be seeded after the four Regionals are completed. Should Washington remain unbeaten after this area’s Sectional and Regional firings have ceased, it will hold the No. 1 seed at the state tournament.
The Eastern Panhandle has provided the Class AAA state champion in each of the last two seasons.
Unbeaten Washington will be aiming to make it three straight Panhandle state winners. But the Patriots need to keep their powder dry and their seven seniors and ready reserves healthy and able-bodied if they make the 300-plus miles trek to Charleston.