Three Kanawha Valley teams seek Class AAA state tournament berths Tuesday evening when they lock up in their respective regional co-finals.
Capital (14-8) visits Woodrow Wilson (17-6) and George Washington (19-3) hosts Princeton (14-9) in Region 3, while Hurricane (11-12) treks to Parkersburg South (20-3) in Region 4.
In another Region 4 co-final, another pair of Mountain State Athletic Conference teams collide when Parkersburg (13-11) visits Huntington (16-6). All four games tip off at 7 p.m., and the four winners advance to the March 14-17 state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
Seeds for the state tournament teams will be released by the SSAC shortly after all regional final scores are verified.
Plenty of attention will fall on Capital’s trip to the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center to take on Woodrow. The Cougars ended the regular season ranked No. 4 in the state Class AAA poll, while the Flying Eagles were No. 7. But one won’t be competing in the state’s premier hoop showcase next week.
“We’ve got a tough game ahead of us,’’ said Capital coach Matt Greene. “Everybody knows when you go down there to Woodrow, you have to have your best game.
“They’re a really good team and they’ve got a little bit of everything — they’ve got the shooters, they’ve got the ball-handlers. So we’ll have to go down there and be ready.’’
Woodrow Wilson features four players with double-figure scoring averages in Ty Walton (13.4), Eddie Christian (13.2), Mikey Penn (12.8) and Bryce Radford (10.7).
Capital relies on the trio of Anthony Pittman (19.6), Jabbar Thompson (15.3) and Kerry Martin Jr. (14.1).
In the teams’ only meeting so far this season, the Cougars prevailed 76-64 in a Jan. 31 home game, with Pittman (29), Martin (19) and Thompson (16) combining for all but 12 of Capital’s points.
“It’s always good to beat a team prior to playing them,’’ Greene said, “but it was so long ago we played them, and they’re playing really well right now. We have to have some good days of practice, make some adjustments and get them ready.’’
GW, ranked No. 3 in AAA, will be a prohibitive favorite against unranked Princeton, which has played just six AAA teams all season. Its four AAA wins came against Riverside (5-18) and Greenbrier East (3-18). The Patriots, meanwhile, are 6-3 against AAA top-10 opponents.
The teams have not met, in part because Princeton is still sitting out a four-year penalty for leaving the MSAC in 2015 without required notice and cannot schedule a league team until the 2019-20 regular season.
GW coach Rick Greene doesn’t expect his players will take the Tigers lightly.
“I will be surprised if they do,’’ he said. “I don’t think they’ll overlook anybody. All the stuff that’s gone on all year has really helped us in some ways — they’re just really locked in and taking care of each other.
“That’s always stuff you’ve got to look at. You beat your rival [Capital in the sectional finals] and you relax. You get to play at home and you relax and then all of the sudden, you don’t get to go through the pass gate [at the Civic Center]. You’re buying tickets. I would really be surprised if it happens to this group. They’ll be ready.’’
George Washington sports four double-figure scorers in Justin Phillips (17.6), Bunky Brown (16.1), Matthew Cook (13.9) and Mason Pinkett (12.4).
In two postseason games so far for Princeton, the top scorers are Cade Fix and Drew Hopkins, averaging 16.5 and 11 points, respectively.
Hurricane, meanwhile, finds itself in the same situation as it did a year ago, traveling to Wood County to tackle Parkersburg South in the regional co-finals.
The Patriots won last season’s regional meeting 59-51 — one of three close games the programs have played the past two seasons. Hurricane topped South 65-60 during last year’s Shootout at the Big House and fell to the Patriots 71-66 in this year’s version of the Shootout.
South, which spent much of the season as the No. 1 team in the AAA state poll before settling for second in the final rankings, is topped in scoring by Cole Plants (17.5), Shane Snider (14.2) and Seth Fallon (10.0). Plants had 17 points and Snider 14 in last year’s regional victory against Hurricane.
For the Redskins, Nick Muto averages 22.9 points and is followed by Austin Dearing (13.0) and Jordan Nicely (11.3). In Hurricane’s first meeting with South, Joe Muto tallied a team-high 17 points.