Here we are, about a week away from the end of the regular season, and we're just starting to find out who's playing in the MSAC Night of Champions.
The state's largest Class AAA league has its gala end-of-the-year basketball event ready to go at the South Charleston Community Center Saturday, but one of the names on the invitations is still blank because of a couple postponed games and a dizzying series of tiebreakers in the East Division.
Following Princeton's upset of Woodrow Wilson on Wednesday, the league juggled the scheduling for a pair of key games involving East Division boys teams - Woodrow Wilson visited Greenbrier East Thursday night and George Washington travels to Greenbrier East tonight.
The Flying Eagles needed a victory Thursday to lock up a spot against South Charleston in the boys title game at 8 p.m. Saturday, and were able to do so. However, the identity of one of the teams in the boys second-place game at 4 p.m. is still a mystery because of all the possible ties in the East standings, not to mention who plays whom in the place-winner games, and when those games can take place.
Originally, GW was set to play at East Thursday and Woodrow was scheduled to make the trip to Fairlea next Tuesday - too late to impact the tightly bunched division standings.
In fact, Fred Aldridge, commissioner of the Mountain State Athletic Conference, originally agreed on Wednesday that Woodrow was in the title game because the Flying Eagles and Spartans didn't reschedule their game before the Night of Champions, and under those circumstances no one could catch the Flying Eagles.
That changed Thursday morning, however, when the league and its coaches decided to alter course and mandated that those two snowed-out games that affected the finish of teams one through six in the East Division be played. Aldridge said the Woodrow Wilson-East game was bumped up to Thursday so that if the Flying Eagles won, they would have a day of rest before meeting SC in the championship game Saturday.
Before Thursday's game, the possibility existed of two different four-way ties for first place in the East Division. The teams involved were Woodrow (then 5-1 in East games), Parkersburg (5-2), Princeton (5-2), George Washington (4-2) and Greenbrier East (3-2).
Jeff Mennillo, coach and assistant principal at Parkersburg, provided Aldridge with a breakdown of all four scenarios Thursday afternoon involving the two games, but only two apply now following Woodrow's victory on Thursday:
The order of finish in the West was fixed several days ago - 1. South Charleston 7-0; 2. Huntington 5-2; 3. Hurricane 5-2; 4. Spring Valley 3-4; 5. Nitro 3-4; 6. St. Albans 3-4; 7. Cabell Midland 1-6; 8. Lincoln County 1-6.