Mystery Awaits South

CHARLESTON -There are at least two givens for today’s 11:15 a.m. opening-round Class AAA state boys basketball tournament game between Parkersburg South and Washington

  • The Patriots will win since the two schools share the same nickname.
  • The game will be fast-paced as both teams like to run-and-gun.

When Parkersburg South was formed in 1967, the school’s students decided its nickname would be the Patriots. Five years later, South made its first state tournament appearance. In 2009, Washington High School came into existence and also became the Patriots. In its fifth basketball season, Washington is making its first state tournament appearance.

Like South the first time it went to the state tournament, Washington is a mystery team. Many fans don’t know the school is located in Charles Town, yet alone anything about the team that is seeded fourth in Class AAA.

Washington brings a 20-5 record into today’s contest, with win No. 20 coming in a 96-50 stomping of Lewis County for the Region II championship.

While it is Washington’s first state tournament appearance, this isn’t some team that is just happy to be in Charleston. Like Parkersburg South, this team is in it to win it.

“It’s going to be a fast-paced game,” said South coach Mike Fallon, whose 21-4 Patriots are the No. 5 seed. “They like to run and we like to run.”

South, which won the Class AAA state title in 2003, is making its seventh trip to the state tournament. Other than its championship season, the Patriots’ other five appearances in Charleston have been one and done.

But this South team is as battled-tested as any state tournament entrant. It already has won four tournament championships -the Class 5A Division of the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, the Big Atlantic Classic and sectional and regional titles -while playing one of the state’s toughest schedules.

Sophomore Cody Monroe – who leads South in assists, steals and free throw percentage -is joined in the starting lineup by four seniors -Wes Mitchem, the team’s leading scorer and rebounder; Doug Dennis, South’s top 3-point shooter; Logan Cox, who is second in rebounding; and Tyler Bolen, who is second in assists and steals..

Washington will counter with five underclassmen – twin brothers Jerome and Maleke Jones, Keldon Bell, Dominique Newman and Kendell Smith. All five average in double figures, which not only indicates each can score, but also that Washington loves to get out and go.

Washington coach Don Bullett knows his team must earn the respect of those who regularly attend the state tournament.

“We’ve only been in existence five years, but hopefully people will know where we’re from. We want people to know you have to be a good team to get out of the Eastern Panhandle section. Maybe we will fly under the radar. The bottom line is, we have to do what we do.”