SC's Neal Brown takes the ball inside as Riverside's Tim Womack winds up for a block attempt.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- When it comes to tournament seeding, it's never too late to politick.
South Charleston coach Vic Herbert, whose team finished up the regular season at 20-2 following wins over Greenbrier East and Wheeling Park last week, still hopes to convince other Class AAA coaches around the state that his team is as good as advertised.
The Black Eagles dropped to third in last week's state rankings, but would love to be regarded as one of the top two teams in the state as boys sectionals take place this week.
SC faces today's Ripley (7-15) at Capital (9-14) winner on Wednesday in AAA Region 3 Section 1, which it hopes to use as a springboard to get the regionals.
Once teams get in the regionals, they are seeded for possible state tournament spots, and that's where Herbert would like to see the Black Eagles get a boost.
He realizes that the top two seeds in the Class AAA state tournament field get a day's rest if they win their quarterfinals on Wednesday. Triple-A seeds three through six at the Civic Center that week face the potential grind of playing three straight days if they want to make the finals.
"We told our kids [against Greenbrier East on senior night] that we were playing for our seniors first and seeding second,'' Herbert said. "Because if you get a 1 or 2 seed and you're lucky enough to get to the state tournament, you play Wednesday and get Thursday off if you win. If you get 3 or 4, you might have to play Thursday, Friday, Saturday. To me, it's important to play Wednesday and have a day off.''
To do that, SC will most likely have to win its section and region and do so in impressive fashion. Otherwise, if Martinsburg (No. 1 in the AAA rankings) and Woodrow Wilson (No. 2) both qualify for the state tournament, too, they could wind up ahead of SC in the tournament field seeded by competing coaches.
Making that feat all the more difficult will be the power-packed status of Region 3, which features four ranked teams - SC, Woodrow, No. 6 Greenbrier East and No. 8 George Washington, as well as 17-5 Princeton. No other region houses as many ranked teams.
The other Region 3 Section 1 game on Wednesday finds Riverside (8-14) at streaking GW (18-4), which has won eight straight. Wednesday's winners meet Friday on the home court of the higher seed to earn the right for preferential placement in next week's regionals.
GW coach Rick Greene doesn't think there are any slam-dunk outcomes in his sectional.
"It's going to be a tough game for us,'' he said of playing Riverside. "We only got them by three points the first time [60-57]. If you look at the talent end of it, I'm sure they can regroup.
"Capital's the same way. They've got enough players and Carrington [Morris] can still dominate a game. If you catch them on the right night . . .''
The Kanawha Valley's other AAA teams will compete in the Region 4 Section 1 event, which begins today with St. Albans (4-18) visiting Point Pleasant (12-10).
The winner of that game visits Hurricane (17-5), the top seed in the sectional, on Wednesday, while Winfield (14-8) hosts Nitro (10-12). The Wednesday survivors tangle Friday.
Poca (16-6), the area's lone ranked AA squad, limps into the sectionals having lost four of its last five games.
Dots coach Allen Osborne isn't discouraged, however, because those losses (to Nitro, Herbert Hoover, Scott and Charleston Catholic) came by a total of just eight points and two were buzzer-beating setbacks.
"We played well enough to win all four of those games, to be honest with you,'' Osborne said. "We'd have liked to have won them, but we were in some situations that get you ready for the state tournament. The only thing that would have been better is if we had won them. We've had some tough losses, but we've had some good situations that get us ready for the tournament.''
All three Kanawha Valley AA teams compete in Region 4 Section 1 beginning tonight at 7 when Sissonville (8-14) hosts Clay County (11-11), a team the Indians split with during the regular season.
On Tuesday, the Sissonville-Clay winner visits Poca and Herbert Hoover (13-9) hosts Nicholas County (11-10), a team it lost to twice in the regular season. The finals are Friday.
Hoover hopes to have 6-foot-6 senior Cody Morris, its top scorer, back in the lineup after he missed his team's last game with an ankle injury.
A pair of ranked 19-3 teams take part in Class A Region 4 Section 2, which begins today in Buffalo with Hannan (4-18) playing St. Joseph (2-19).
Top-seeded Charleston Catholic takes on the winner of that game on Wednesday, the same night No. 2 seed Buffalo hosts Wahama (10-12). The finals are Friday at a neutral site to be determined.
Catholic coach Bill McClanahan likes the way his team bounced back after a recent demoralizing 61-38 loss to No. 1-ranked Tug Valley with a 38-37 home win over Poca to close the regular season.
"Let's face facts,'' McClanahan said. "Coach Osborne is a fantastic coach. His reputation statewide is unbelievable, so his teams are going to play physical and they're going to be fundamental. Playing a team like this so close to the tournament only gets you ready for the tournament.
"We know Tucker County and Tug Valley and Magnolia play similar to this, so this pays dividends no matter what the score finished up. This gets us ready for next week and the next two weeks. This was huge for us.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.