Basketball Tournament finals are set for Saturday at Ohio University
Eastern. Tuesday the eight semifinal games were played and the losing teams play
tonight on the higher seed’s home floor. In each championship game an Ohio school will be locking horns with a
West Virginia contingent. The battle of supremacy between the
states will be at its finest.
The first ever girls champions were crowned on the same floor last Saturday. This week, however, the boys take center stage for what is expected to be one of the biggest events in the Ohio Valley.
Tuesday night the eight semi-final games were played with the winners advancing to Saturday’s championships. The eight losing teams will play tonight on the higher seed’s home floor.
In each championship game an Ohio school will be locking horns with a West Virginia contingent. The battle of supremacy between the two states will be at its finest.
A preview of Saturday:
John Marshall (WV) vs. Indian Creek (7:00 p.m.)
The John Marshall Monarchs, who upset top seed Wheeling Park, will take on the Indian Creek Redskins who knocked off two-seed Weir (WV). This is also a rematch of last week’s girls’ AAAA championship game (won by Indian Creek).
The Monarchs (11-6) avenged an earlier loss to Park via 67-58 triumph on Tuesday night. Guard Andrew Montes scored 25 points including a 12-of-16 performance at the line. Big man Kenny Shepherd added nine points, 10 boards, and seven blocks.
The Creek (14-5), winners of six straight and nine of its last 10, earned a hard fought victory over a very talented Weir Red Rider outfit. Mike Smith led the way with 26 points, while R.J. Roberts notched 10 and Jim Wood and Luke Viltro evenly divided 16 markers.
This should be a great match up especially with two of the best big kids in the conference in Shepherd and Wood. No team has been on fire like Creek, but not many are as talented as JM.
The consensus among most coaches in the valley is John Marshall is the most talent-laden squad around (excluding Zanesville). After blowing a 26-point lead on the road to St. Clairsville, the Monarchs have bounced back and made the AAAA finals.
Indian Creek gets the job done with intense man-to-man defense and an offense led by two outstanding seniors in Smith and Wood. The latter is one of the most underrated players in the conference. Also, head coach Joe Dunlevy is as good as it gets as far as in-game coaching and preparation.
Look for Shepherd and Wood to neutralize one another, while the difference in this game could be JM’s depth in the paint. Danny McClelland (6’6) and 6-foot-3 Josh Overholt are two legitimate options for the Monarchs and head coach Bill Storm.
Creek will try to combat with Luke Viltro and Jonathan Figel.
It seems as Montes goes the Monarchs go seen in the game against St. Clairsville. It will be essential for him to play a complete game. It’s almost a given Smith of Creek will get his points. Smith is a natural slasher from his combo-guard spot with great ability to get to the basket, elevate and score.
With all this being said, the game should be a physical battle. I really believe this game can go either way. Wood is the key to this game. The 6-foot-5 senior has to stay in the game and out of foul trouble. If not, the paint will be a feast for JM.
Wheeling Central (WV) vs. St. Clairsville (4:00 p.m.)
Finally! The Maroon Knights and Red Devils meet. All the trash talking, the comparisons, and everything is over and it’s time to get after it on the court. Both teams finished their regular seasons unbeaten in football, and Wheeling Central edged them in the point system for the AAA title. More fuel to the fire. Yeah, this is going to be a good one. Intensity will be running high.
The Maroon Knights (11-6) advanced to the final by virtue of a 53-45 victory over a previously red-hot Martins Ferry squad. Meanwhile, St. Clairsville advanced thanks to another thrilling game at the Devil Den where the Red Devils knocked off almost everybody’s favorite, Magnolia (68-66).
Point guard Shane Phillips led the Maroon Knights with 16 points, while Cory McKitrick added 12 tallies. D’onte Long notched eight markers and Alex Peluchette delivered seven.
For St. Clairsville (15-4), Anthony Vincent was the man delivering 19 points including two clutch game-winning free throws (6-of-6 in the game). Sophomore Daniel Slavik dropped 14 markers including four treys, while Dustin Hynes and Michael Bigelow evenly split 20 lightings. Junior Ryan Jarvie added eight points and seven caroms.
Wow, what do I say about this match up. The Guru is speechless. Okay, I may have a few thoughts.
Just like the AAAA final, this will be a physical battle to the final horn. The Knights appear to have snapped out of a late season funk (losing three-straight) by winning four-straight. Central beat Linsly on Wednesday a night after it dispersed of Ferry and Linsly traveled to Beverly to upset Fort Frye. On the other hand, the Red Devils may have some new life after struggling late. The Devils suffered a rare home loss at the hands of Indian Creek and then got throttled by Ferry on the road, but the win over Magnolia may be just what head coach Kim Clifford and his crew needed.
Basically, both teams come into this game on high notes. Both teams play extremely hard. Both are fairly deep, and both want to pressure on defense to create transition buckets.
Ohio University Eastern has a different background, which for teams playing in a regular high school gym may not be friendly. In other words, it’s not a friendly shooting environment. Know this, most of the Red Devils play a lot basketball at OUE in the off season, which will be an advantage. I know that is searching deep for an edge, but hey that is what I do.
I’m not going to get into breaking down match ups, but look for this game to not be decided until the final 30 seconds. Count on it.
Linsly (WV) vs. Shadyside (10:00 a.m.)
This is a bit of an unexpected contest, but nonetheless, it should be extremely entertaining. Most of the so-called experts (including myself) had Fort Frye playing Shadyside in this game back in June. However, Linsly had other ideas. The West Virginia Cadets went into Beverly, which is a ultra tough place to win, and did just that by a 37-35 score.
The Tigers (17-2), however, held up there end of the bargain by getting past a pesky Steubenville CC squad (79-66). This was a one-point game in the final two minutes before the Tigers scored the last 12 of the contest.
The Andes brothers (Jared and Justin) combine for 38 points. Justin led the way with 21 markers including four treys, while Jared notched 17 tallies and B.A. Holloway equaled that amount including five triples. Big man Drew Kennon stepped up with 11 points. In all, the Orange and Black drilled a dozen bonus goals.
Linsly (11-6) was led in victory by DeMarr Moulton’s 17 points, while Taylor Cecil scored the game-winning basket with score knotted at 35.
The Tigers shoot the basketball well at most places, but take it to another level at OUE. The Andes brothers have no problem adjusting to the background at the Eastern Campus.
The Tigers knocked off Linsly earlier in the 66-65 in overtime, and it was a definite struggle. The Cadets are long, athletic, and have some size. The Tigers usually feast on a big floor where they can spread the opponent out with the drive and kick. However, the Cadets may be athletic enough to not have to help.
Both teams are going to score points, but the team that locks up and plays some defense is going to win the title. Linsly is definitely capable of winning this game. This should be a fantastic opener with the winning team earning a seven to eight point victory. This game can go either way for sure. My hunch is telling me Linsly will still where the Cinderella slipper on Saturday afternoon. C.J. Goodwin and DeMarr Moulton rise to the occasion in a state championship type game for a school that can’t compete in the West Virginia State Tournament. In other words, this game is going to mean a lot to the Cadets. With that being, said I’m not downplaying the meaning for Shadyside.
Bridgeport vs. Weirton Madonna (WV) (1:00 p.m.)
Many people were expecting a Madonna and Rosecrans final before the pairings were set, however, that game was played this past Tuesday in the semi-finals with Madonna once again winning by three (43-40) on the home boards. It was the second time the Blue Dons defeated the Bishops by three this season. The Bulldogs advanced to the final thanks to a rout of Valley (WV), 66-29.
Mike Bachie scored 14 points and ripped down 19 boards (12 offensive) to lead Brideport (11-7). Justin Gregocic also notched 14 tallies, while the Lindsey’s (Chaz and Travis) evenly split 20 lightings. Travis is only a freshman.
John McCune led the Blue Dons (13-5) with 20 points including the game-winning three-point goal with one minute remaining on the clock. The three was his fourth of the game and it gave Madonna a 41-40 lead. Corey Hirkala added 13 points as McCune’s top support.
The old adage says it’s hard to beat a team three times. I always like to say it’s hard to beat a team three times if the first two were close. That is not the case in this situation. Madonna soundly defeated the upstart Bulldogs twice this season (69-52 and 71-49).
Look for much of the same this time around. Madonna is a very good basketball team with some quality wins. On the flip side, Bridgeport is a good story. Head coach Donnie Cash Jr. has done an unbelievable job with this squad, and has come light years since he took over. The Dogs had some big distractions to deal with before the season started, but the young boss never made excuses and just continued to win.
Madonna is a good team with depth, and is use to winning. The Dogs are learning to win and will have their day in the sun soon. This Saturday it will be the Blue Dons hoisting the hardware.
Consolation Game (Friday night)
Weir (WV) @ Wheeling Park (WV)
Magnolia (WV) @ Martins Ferry
Steubenville Central @ Fort Frye
Bishop Rosecrans @ Valley (WV)
Consolation Pool (Friday night)
Beallsville @ Toronto
Buckeye Trail @ Cameron
Bishop Donahue (WV) @ Frontier
St. John @ Caldwell
Bellaire @ River
Paden City (WV) @ Monroe Central
Steubenville @ Union Local
Shenandoah @ Harrison Central
Barnesville @ Oak Glen
Brooke @ Edison
Beaver Local @ Buckeye Local