Boys teams hope to punch ticket to state

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Tyler Consolidated guard Griffin Phillips and his Silver Knight teammates will play host to Cameron at 7 p.m. today in a Class A, Region I, co-final with the victor advancing to next week’s state tournament in Charleston.

PARKERSBURG — A quartet of Class A Little Kanawha Conference basketball programs will be out to punch their ticket to next week’s state tournament when regional co-finals tip at 7 p.m. today.

Ravenswood, which ended the season ranked No. 1 in the final Associated Press poll, will put its 23-1 mark on the line in the “Pit” versus the No. 12 Van Bulldogs (15-8). The other half of the Region IV co-final has No. 10 Parkersburg Catholic (14-10) on the road at No. 3 Tug Valley (17-7).

The single-A Region I games will have underdog St. Marys (9-14) at No. 2 Wheeling Central (21-2) while No. 8 Cameron (19-5) visits Tyler Consolidated (16-8).

– RAVENSWOOD

Veteran boss Mick Price’s squad might be coming off a state runner-up finish from last winter, but no one in Jackson County is taking anything for granted tonight.

The Red Devils started the campaign with 12 straight wins before falling to Tug Valley, 60-56, on a neutral floor. Now, RHS is looking for its second 12-game win streak of the season and in order to get that will need to deny Van its first state tournament berth.

“They are a good club and they’ve won 15 games for a reason. They have the (Taylor) Jarrell kid who is a very good scorer and probably averaging 21 or 22 points a game,” said Price, who noted the senior surpassed the 1,500 career point plateau earlier in the season. “They’ve got several kids, seven or eight kids, who can play not including Jarrell.

“They are a pretty rounded, solid team. I am way more concerned about the Red Devils than I am Van. We got to take care of what we need to do. There will be a lot of intangibles because we don’t know them very well.”

If victorious, the Red Devils will advance to the big dance for the 15th time in school history and the 14th under Price’s tutelage.

“We’ve got to do what needs to be done in the game to do that,” Price said of trying to get back to Charleston. “Hopefully, we’ll approach it business like and be able to get back.”

– TYLER CONSOLIDATED

Rick Leach knows full well win No. 17 for his Silver Knights of Tyler Consolidated will not be an easy one.

In the second game of the year back on Dec. 8, TCHS went to Cameron and won 64-60. When the Dragons came to Kidwell on Feb. 10, it was a different story as the Silver Knights fell 68-46.

“We got in foul trouble early in the second quarter and they outscored us 26-3,” Leach said of the blowout loss. “They are a lot bigger than we are. They had a lot of easy buckets in the second quarter and they had a couple 3s.

“The more they added to the run the more frustrated we got on offense. Our goal is to pack it in a little bit, don’t get in foul trouble and make them shoot from the outside.”

Tyler Consolidated is seeking its fifth trip to the state tournament and first since 2002. A victory against Cameron would tie the school record of 17 triumphs set back in 1995 when the Silver Knights had a three-year run at state from 1994-96.

– PARKERSBURG CATHOLIC

An overtime loss in the sectional finals at Ravenswood sent Parkersburg Catholic head coach Rob Strcula’s squad back on the road and the long trip will be tough having to face Tug Valley, which was ousted last winter in the regional co-final by the Red Devils.

The Crusaders plan to leave at noon today and have a shootaround at West Virginia State before eating lunch and making the rest of the trip.

“Our guys are pretty confident right now. We got a pretty good game plan put in place,” Strcula said. “The first four minutes of the game we really got to get a gauge on how we need to adjust to a few things.

“The biggest thing that we talked about all week is how physical they are and they want to get in your shirt and make you earn everything. We’ve got to keep our poise.”

While PCHS has plenty of talent, the Panthers will have a key advantage in being at home with their seven seniors.

“More than half of them have been starting since they were freshmen,” Strcula added. “They have a lot of experience. We really got to play smart on offense. We can’t force any dumb shots early on and we’ve got to put ourselves in a place to be successful.”

– ST. MARYS

Upsets happen in basketball all the time, but few outside of Pleasants County are giving the Blue Devils much of a shot trying to take down the Maroon Knights.

SMHS head coach Mark Barnhart understands the task at hand is daunting, but his program got the key sectional win it needed against Magnolia (57-47) in order to have this opportunity.

“We have two seniors,” said the coach. “That means eight guys will be dressed who will have a chance to come back and contribute. Winning that game over Magnolia was big for us. Now they have played for a sectional championship (a 56-51 loss to Tyler) and now they get to go to Wheeling Central and play for a regional championship.

“Everybody doesn’t get to go to those games. No matter where this goes from here, the experience is invaluable. You have to put things into perspective sometimes and look at the whole overall picture.”

Of course, this is the same situation the Blue Devils were in a year ago when their season came to an end versus Wheeling Central in the regional co-final.

“They are loaded with talent. Everybody knows that,” Barnhart said of Central. “We’ve seen them and it’s mostly the same team.

“We’re back in these games after losing some pretty good players last year as well. Going forward for us, we have to make the most of our situation period, for the good of our players today and tomorrow.”

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