When sports fans around the state hear the name Parkersburg South, their first thought is the Patriots powerful wrestling program.
That's only natural, since South has won 18 state wrestling championships and is the only Class AAA school to win four consecutive crowns, a feat it has accomplished twice.
While South had to settle for third place at this year's state wrestling tournament, Patriot fans haven't given up on seeing a South team capture a state title before the end of March.
And with good reason.
When the state girls high school basketball tournament gets under way at the Charleston Civic Center on Wednesday, coach Scott Stephens' Patriots will be one of eight participating teams after claiming both the sectional and regional championships in dominating fashion.
In three post-season games, South has won by margins of 27, 28 and 12 points, the latter in the Region I championship game over University, which during the regular season handed South two of the seven losses it suffered.
Stephens, who has guided South to a pair of state titles, has an extremely young basketball team, one that is dominated by freshmen. It's understandable that after 10 games, the Patriots were just 5-5 and struggling for consistency.
It took a while for the Patriots to grow up and get used to the pace of the high school game.
In its last 14 contests, South has recorded 12 wins, with the only losses coming to potential state tournament semifinal foe Morgantown and Class A powerhouse Huntington St. Joe.
The Patriots are led by freshman Taryn McCutcheon and sophomore Keya Bartlett. One of that duo has led South in scoring in 22 of its 24 wins.
Freshmen Anna Hayton, Carlie Wilson and Katelyn Byrd also have played major roles, as have senior Miranda Workman, who has played her best basketball during the postseason and junior Kasey Williams.
With defending champion and top-ranked Greenbrier East out of the title picture, the Class AAA crown is ripe for the taking, with the No. 3 seed Patriots one of the prime candidates to claim the championship on Saturday night.
Then there is the Patriot boys team, a veteran squad that will take a 20-4 record into Tuesday night's regional game against University at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center. It will be the fourth meeting between the Patriots and Hawks, with South winning the previous three by margins of 8, 3 and 3 points, the latter game for the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Class 5A championship.
Coach Mike Fallon's squad is led by seniors Wes Mitchem, Doug Dennis, Logan Cox and Tyler Bolen, junior Dylon Rippeto and sophomore Cody Monroe. South survived a major scare on Wednesday, needing a buzzer-beater by Dennis to win its sectional opener against Parkersburg High, then breezed to the sectional title with a 14-point victory over Wheeling Park.
If the Patriot boys can beat University for a fourth time, South will be one of just a few schools to get both its basketball teams to Charleston.
Not bad for a school where basketball isn't the dominant winter sport.
Contact Dave Poe at email@example.com