Both George Washington and South Charleston will have some sense of familiarity to work with Wednesday as they compete in their separate Class AAAA Region 3 co-finals and attempt to nail down spots in next week’s state tournament.
The Patriots (13-1) host Greenbrier East (10-3), while the Black Eagles (12-5) visit Woodrow Wilson (9-11), with both games scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.
Two other Kanawha Valley teams are also vying for state tournament spots in a pair of Region 4 co-finals Wednesday as Hurricane (8-12) hosts Cabell Midland (11-4) and St. Albans (4-9) visits Huntington (10-3). They’re also set to start at 7.
GW, ranked No. 2 in the final state poll, hasn’t played the Spartans since late in the 2011-12 season, but it certainly knows a good bit about East’s second-leading scorer. It just happens to be William Gabbert (20.7 points per game), who played his first three seasons of varsity ball at GW.
Gabbert and his family moved back to the Greenbrier Valley area in the off-season and he has teamed with Bailee Coles (22.5) to give the Spartans a dynamic 1-2 offensive punch. Last season, Gabbert averaged 8.4 points for the Patriots and three times hit for 19 or more points in a game.
George Washington coach Rick Greene expects his team to play at a high level Wednesday and also expects the Spartans to be at full strength following some recent COVID-related absences.
“If we’re ready, we’ll take our chances,’’ Greene said. “And if we’re not ready to go in the regional finals to go to the state tournament, then that’s on us.
“Greenbrier East should have everybody back by Wednesday, and if they do, it will be a tough game.’’
GW’s own 1-2 punch is supplied by Alex Yoakum (20.7 points per game) and Mason Pinkett (19.4).
South Charleston, meanwhile, has already made the trip to Beckley and won this season, beating the Flying Eagles 52-42 on March 20 as Bryson Smith (13 points), Mondrell Dean (12) and Wayne Harris (11) all scored in double figures. Kayden Slay led Woodrow with 10 points.
Black Eagles coach Josh Daniel likes what he’s seen from his team lately, even during a 64-61 loss at GW in last week’s sectional title game that snapped a four-game win streak for SC.
“If our guys give that kind of effort that they did [at GW], I really feel good about our chances to win,’’ Daniel said. “A one-possession game against a team that a lot of people think is the front-runner to win a state championship.
“That was kind of my message to them after the game. Now we’re 32 minutes away from going to the state tournament. Let’s not let this loss affect us; be positive next week.’’
Hurricane has improved by leaps and bounds from the team that started the season 2-8. The Redskins look to avenge a 76-59 loss inflicted upon them by Midland on March 18. In that game, the Knights’ K.K. Siebert (26 points) and Chandler Schmidt (23) combined to vex Hurricane. The Redskins received 23 points from Nas’jaih Jones in that contest.
St. Albans has met the Highlanders once this season, losing 53-39 on March 18. Huntington was led in the game by the scoring of Jaylen Motley (14) and Amare Smith (13), while the Red Dragons received 10 points each from NuNu Claytor and Drew Reed.
SA qualified for the state tournament last season, ending a drought that extended all the way back to 2004, but never got to play a game there as COVID-19 canceled the entire boys tournament.