PARKERSBURG - The first time Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South met in boys basketball this season back on Dec. 30, the host Patriots were 4-0 en route to a 10-0 start, while the young Big Reds were only 1-2 then and are 6-12 now.
The final score was South 71, PHS 46.
Tonight, almost two months later, the Big Reds and Patriots, now 14-5, clash on the hardwood again, this time at PHS Memorial Fieldhouse at 7:30 p.m. with a lot on the line - pride, of course, and the usual bragging rights, but even more so since the outcome could possibly affect sectional tournament seeding.
South, which played at Lewis County Friday night, is in a battle for the top sectional seed while the Big Reds are trying to stay out of the final fourth spot.
Neither head coach, South's Mike Fallon and PHS' Jeff Mennillo, though say they are looking for another 25-point win by the Patriots this time around.
That's because in the last month or so, the Big Reds "have begun to put things together," said Mennillo. "We're playing better," and especially really better in the wins. And right now, PHS is on a two-game winning streak, culminating in a 73-71 home triumph Tuesday night over third-ranked Huntington High.
"We've gotten better and I think we had some opportunities to win a few more games," said Mennillo. But he said the biggest challenge his team faces in South tonight is "their shooting. They have guys who can make it from their spots, but also guys who can hit shots from all over the court."
For Fallon, who took the Patriots to the state tournament last season, "you watch PHS play now and things have changed a lot for them for the better since we played the first game," he said.
"But preparing for them," Fallon added, "is kind of like looking in a mirror because they do a lot of things the same way we do. So we should be ready for them in that respect."
He knows, though, that "it'll be a dogfight over there (at PHS). So we need to go in with the attitude that if we do what we need to do, we'll be fine."
The expected starting lineup for South will be juniors Ty Dobson, Cody Monroe and JR Kerr and seniors Logan Lawrentz and Dylon Rippeto, with Garrett Gilkeson, Logan Fryfogle, Brandon Chichester, Tyler Berry and Cody Boggs coming off the bench for the Patriots.
Starting for PHS tonight, it'll be junior Michael Ramsey, sophomore Cole Day and senior Levi Hays at guards and juniors Ja'Darien Wade and Jordan Colebank at forwards. Key reserves off the bench for the Big Reds will be Andrew Butcher, Darius Basta, Garrett Smith and Zach Carroll.