It is way too early to predict, but with the expected move of Class AA state champion Tug Valley as well as quarterfinalist Magnolia into the ranks of the Class A schools for the 2012-13 season, the stranglehold that has witnessed 11 straight and 13 of the last 14 state basketball championships in the small school classification go to private schools may well be coming to an end.
I learned a long time ago that there are no guarantees, especially in basketball, but the Panthers of head coach Garland Thompson return their top scorer in junior Mikey Newsome (18.4 ppg) as well as the team's third-leading scorer, Austin Brewer (14.3), also a junior.
Magnolia's losses will be a little bit more difficult to overcome as seniors Jayson Keller, Hunter Campbell and Nick Blatt played their last game in the Blue Eagles' triple overtime loss to Tolsia in the opening round. But, veteran head coach Dave Tallman has one key building block returning that will make the Wetzel Countians an immediate impact on the classification-6-foot, 6-inch senior-to-be Mark Winters.
Yes, defending state champion Charleston Catholic returns a slew of talented players that will be working hard during the offseason to make sure they are in the title hunt again next season. Ditto for state runner-up St. Marys and the rest of this past year's field.
The same can't be said, however, for the girls' division as four-time champion Huntington St. Joseph appears to be the odds-on favorite to tie Summers County's mark of five straight state titles next March. The Irish return two of the top players in Class A in juniors-to-be Mychal Johnson and Griffin Dempsey as well as fellow underclassmen Asia Petitte and Rachel Lee.
Yes, there will be challengers-primarily from state runner-up Wheeling Central, Trinity and Parkersburg Catholic. But, the chances of a public school accomplishing what the Yellowjackets from Williamstown did in 2003, appear to be slim at best.
St. Marys will return a solid nucleus centered around Audra Clark and Kendra Walker and Williamstown will still have outstanding players like McKenzie Smith, Carley Ellison and Kathleen Cornell.
But, those teams, as well as any other challengers around the Mountain State, will have to do a lot if they are going to end a drought that has witnessed private schools take home 20 of the last 21 state titles in the division.
Class A, however, won't be the only division getting an overhaul during the 2012-13 season.
The move of Bridgeport, Robert C. Byrd, Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont-as well as others-will make winning a title in Class AA an even tougher accomplishment.
Defending state runner-up Bluefield should be the favorite to win next year's Class AA boys' crown-especially with the return of leading scorers Anthony Eades and Lykel Collier.
It's nice to look into the future once in a while.