PARKERSBURG - It's now two straight years in the state boys basketball tournament for Parkersburg South.
The only other time the Patriots did that in 2002 and 2003, they came home as Class AAA state champions the second year.
A good omen for the 2014 South squad? Maybe, but that quest begins for Mike Fallon's 19-6 Patriots at 7:15 p.m. today in the state quarterfinals versus Hedgesville (18-5) at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg South's Ty Dobson drives past Preston's Mathew Vero to the basket during their Class AAA regional game. South plays Hedgesville in a Class AAA quarterfinal game at 7:15 p.m. today in the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.
"It is something special to go (to the state) back-to-back," said Fallon, relating that "one of the things we talked about after last year when our four seniors left was what we had to do to get back to Charleston. And our kids did it - they worked hard last summer, put in a lot of time and did all the extra things that made a difference with us this season."
While no one at South is counting their chickens before they're hatched, fourth-year head coach Fallon's team traveled to Charleston Wednesday morning to take a look at - hopefully - its next opponent in Hurricane, now 20-6 after the Redskins toppled second-seeded South Charleston 63-47 in their opening-round matchup, before heading back home for practice.
But first up for the sixth-seeded Patriots is No. 3 seed Hedgesville today. Although South hasn't faced the Eagles this season, "we've watched eight to 10 films on them - and they're very good, athletic and strong," said Fallon. "They're one of those teams it's hard to prepare for, because they can slow it down as well as they can speed it up. So you've got to be prepared for them either way."
But "what we're really trying to focus on more than anything else," said Fallon, "is our stuff. Hopefully, we're hard to prepare for too, because we do so many different things too that they'll have to spend a lot of time on us also."
This season, the Patriots got off to a good start, 10-0, before tasting defeat. "We were really, really good at the beginning," noted Fallon, before "sputtering a little bit in the middle. But now I think we're playing even better than we did at the beginning of the season.
"I knew though that we could be good again this season, just because of the kind of kids we had, and the chemistry we had with them and they had with each other."
In discussing Hedgesville's key personnel, Fallon singled out 6-foot-3 senior guard CJ Burks as the Eagles' "go-to guy. He does a little bit of everything for them, and they look for him a lot offensively." Fallon added that 5-10 junior point guard Daniel Delaware is "kind of the little motor that makes them run. He's all over the place, quick and athletic."
A third Hedgesville cager Fallon mentioned is 6-5 junior guard-forward Theo Carter, who broke his hand earlier in the year, but "has come back and played well for them, especially in the sectional. He's kind of a tough matchup."
For South, 6-6 senior forward Logan Lawrentz "has played really well down the stretch here," said Fallon. "But the other kids have stepped up too - J.R. Kerr, Ty Dobson, Cody Monroe, Dylon Rippeto, Tyler Berry, and Garrett Gilkeson, Cody Boggs and Logan Fryfogle off the bench. They're all guys who can score, but can do other things too, which I think makes us hard to match up with, because you just can't key on one or two of our people."