SC, GW should feel right at home
South Charleston and George Washington hold a bit of home-court advantage for their quarterfinal games Thursday in the Class AAA state tournament at the Civic Center.
The Black Eagles, who meet Parkersburg at 7:15 p.m. Thursday in the final AAA first-round game, have already played at the Civic Center three times this season. For the Patriots, who tackle Fairmont Senior at 11:15 a.m. that same day, it will mark their third game on the floor.
Their opponents have no such experience. Parkersburg hasn't appeared in the state tournament since 2001, and Fairmont Senior's last trip was 2007.
"It helps a ton,'' said SC coach Vic Herbert. "Our school's been there several years in a row [for the state tournament], plus we've played three games on that court during the course of the season.
"It helps us that we're familiar with the place. I'm not too sure that playing at the [SC Community Center] doesn't help us at a bigger place, too, because there's not anything behind the basket there, either. It's not quite like the Civic Center, so maybe it's an advantage or maybe it's not. We've still got to put the ball in the basket, and [Parkersburg] can do that as well as anybody. We'll have to guard well.''
Many of GW's players competed on the Civic Center floor three times during state tournament week last season during their run to the Class AAA championship.
"We'll not have any excuses there,'' said GW coach Rick Greene. "Having had our nucleus play there last year helps us - even the kids off the bench. So from our standpoint, and being there a third time this year, there will not be any excuses. We're pretty much veterans of having played on that court. If we're not ready to go, then that's my fault.''
A lot of folks were a bit surprised when South Charleston and George Washington weren't matched up - again - in the first round of the state tournament.
After all, the two schools always seem to be running into each other at key moments on the sports calendar.
In addition to their scheduled regular-season games, the boys teams met in the first round of the state tournament each of the past two years, and the girls met in the first round this year, along with last year's semifinal showdown at the Civic Center. The girls squads also played for the MSAC title back-to-back years in 2010-11. And, of course, the football teams collided for the 2008 state title in Wheeling.
The possibility of another meeting was close, especially considering that GW picked up the No. 5 seed and Parkersburg was sixth even though the Big Reds beat the Patriots during the regular season. If GW had slid into the No. 6 hole, it would have met No. 3 SC again.
"Nothing against anybody else,'' Greene said, "but since we lost to Parkersburg head up, if we would have been sixth, nobody would have griped. We did have some pretty good quality wins, but I could understand why they might have put Parkersburg there.''
Herbert was hoping his team could land the No. 2 seed and therefore get an extra day of rest (the top two seeds play their quarterfinals Wednesday, and the winners advance to Friday's semifinals). When that didn't happen, he had a sense his team might be staring down a rematch with GW.
"I thought it was fair the way everything turned out,'' Herbert said. "That would have been the third year in a row against GW and to me, I'm glad it didn't happen. I'd just as well play somebody new.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.