The Press Box for February 26
March is in the air, so WV state high school basketball tournament play begins. On Saturday, February 22, Tyler Consolidated and Paden City got underway in sectional play as the number 5 seed Wildcats paid a visit to the Number 4 seed Knights gym.
Nothing compares to state high school basketball tournament action and Saturday was a dandy between two teams who have struggled all season. The Wildcats took an early lead and were up by three at the half, before the Silver Knights came storming back with a preessure defense liminting the Cats to just 11 second half points to get a 10 point win.
Both teams are young with only two seniors on each squad, they should be tougher to deal with next season. The Knights have a couple nice players coming back, while the Wildcats are loaded with freshmen.
Some of the best times in my life have been at the state tournament in Charleston. I’ll never forget the many times the Wildcat boys lowered the electric bill in town as they drew crowds like no other single A school.
The 1973 team was a dream team, it took a red hot fourth quarter comeback to get them the title, giving coach Burton his first championship team. That was their second trip in a row to the big dance and one of several more to come. That was a special team, because four or five kids had left town who were pretty good ball players. Two were the Plohol brothers Bob and Johnny who moved to Wheeling. It’s hard to tell how good the Cats would have been with those two, who both went on to star at Wheeling Park. Bob set the school record for most points in a game for Park with 60.
When the 1986-87 season rolled around, nobody knew just how good those guys were. It took a last second shot to beat Bishop Donahue to get to state, but once they got there it was again lights out in the community and at the civic center. Burton brought them out on the floor for the championship match up with Bramwell, with both squads sporting 26-0 records.
It was a special season for the teams up North as Brooke won the AAA title, Wheeling Central won the AA title and Paden City knocked out the Millionaires to win the A championship and finish 27-0.
Many think Paden City was the best of all three classes. They certainly had good guards and plenty of height. Down low they measured around 6’7″ three deep, and could run in a couple 6’4″ players. At guard they had three of the states best.
In between those championship teams the Wildcats sent four more teams to state. Its been a dry spell since for the Cats, but there still have been some big moments.
Tyler Consolidated has made some noise over the years and was at the big house a few years back under coach Rick Leach. When tournament time rolls around everyone is fair game. You give it your best shot and hope its enough to keep advancing.
You just never know, throw out the records and go to work.
That’s what happened in 1982 when the Wildcats advanced to the semi-finals after going through the season winning only six games. Get motivated, play hard and never quit till it’s over. I like the chances of a couple teams this year, the records may not show much, but the athletes are better than the record. Get behind your team and give them all the support you can.
Everyday is a great day, but going to state tournament games is special. The atmosphere, the excitement of being in the civic center watching the states best play and hoping to see a big upset, staying at the local hotels and meeting up with friends, it just doesn’t get any better.
So, here we go, the start of another tournament, three weeks of great high school basketball, and a couple weekends at the Capital. This will make 36 straight years for me. I hope I can hang on for a few more. Good luck to all area teams. firstname.lastname@example.org