By Dave Morrison
Some notes ahead of the Class AA Region 3 tournaments this week.
Section 1 kicks off Tuesday night at the Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center Tuesday. No. 3 seed Oak Hill will face No. 2 seed Independence at 6 p.m. followed by No. 5 seed Wyoming East taking on top-seed Westside.
At Princeton Tuesday 3 seed PikeView will take on 2 seed Bluefield at 5:30 p.m. and 4 seed River View will take on top seed Shady Spring.
Wyoming East played its way into the semifinals by beating No. 4 seed Liberty 50-44 at Glen Daniel on Friday
Independence won its lone meeting of the season against Oak Hill, 62-55 on Jan. 10.
In that game the Red Devils were without starters three starters, including Jason Manns and Cade Maynor.
Oak Hill ((8-14) has one of the top 3-point shooting teams in the Region, with with 207 3 pointers, second most to Shady Spring’s 232. In fact, Oak Hill has more 3s than 2s, with 192 two-point field goals.
Oak Hill is the only team in the Region, regardless of class, with two players who have over 60 3s. Hunter Rinehart has 61 3s (he has just one 2, that coming in the regular-season finale against Liberty) and Jacob Perdue has 60.
The Red Devils are 4-6 in their last 10 games, but did beat a pair of Section 1 opponents, Liberty and Wyoming East, in their last two wins. The Red Devils also beat top-seed Westside and were a last-second buzzer beater by Evan Colucci from beating Westside twice.
Manns (13.2), Perdue (12.4) and Rinehart (8.9) lead Oak Hill in scoring.. The Red Devils are averaging53.7 points per game.
Oak HIll is the Section 1 defending champion.
Independence (13-0), along with Westside, are the only teams in the section with winning records.
The Patriots, under first-year coach Mike Green, lead the section in scoring at 73.5, almost 20 points more than Oak Hill.
The also have two of the top scorers in the region in Michael McKinney (19.8 ppg) and Jared Cannady (19.0).
McKinney has scored 30 points or more in three of the last five game, with 32 against Van, 30 against Liberty and 36 against Sherman. He has four 30-plus games this season and has 41 3s.
Cannady is the area’s leading 3-point shooter with 76 and in the last eight games (Indy is 6-2 in those games) he has scored over 20 five times.
In an earlier game this season at the Armory against Nicholas County Cannady had a career-best 37 points and eight 3s.
Wyoming East beat Liberty 50-44 at Liberty in the play-in game behind 19 points from senior Jacob Bishop.
It was a season-high for Bishop but the senior has scored in double figures in seven straight games and eighth in 10 games since the Warriors had 3 starters leave the team.
Bishop had 10 points last week in the Warriors 61-40 loss to Westside, a game that was tight at the half.
Wyoming East had lost five straight coming into the Liberty but had faced Huntington, Oak Hill, Bluefield, Lincoln and Westside in that stretch. Coach Derek Brooks said he didn’t originally like playing Westside in the season finale but said it likely works out better because now his young team got to experience the atmosphere of the game. The Warriors play three freshmen and a sophomore in their top six along with Bishop and fellow senior Anthony Martin.
Westside finished with a 12-10 record and along the way the team, with one senior who doesn’t play much, picked up some impressive wins, and were in a couple close games with Class AA Shady Spring that got away from the Renegades in the second half.
They also lost some head scratchers, including a five-game losing streak that saw the drop to 5-7. But the team rebounded to win seven of their final 10 games.
The Renegades lost just two games in the section, falling to Oak Hill (44-40 at Oak Hill) and Wyoming East before three starters left the team, and they also beat that team at the Armory in the New River CTC Invitational.
The Renegades don’t necessarily shoot a lot of 3s (with 90 on the season) and the shoot 55.5 percent from the line as a team (232 of 418).
But when they play as a team, the Renegades can play with any team in the region.
Westside is averaging 63.2 points per game, and are led by Ethan Blackburn 14.7), Daniel Reed (11.8), Evan Colucci (10.2) and Jace Colucci (9.0). The Renegades also have to big men, 6-6 starter Tommy Milam and 6-7 Shandell Adkins, who have gotten better over the course of the season.
River View beat James Monroe Monday to advance to the section sectional tournament to face Shady Spring, which spent most of the season No. 1 in the state.
Shady Spring is 21-1, the one loss to Bluefield at Brushfork two weeks ago.
There is little Shady Spring doesn’t do well. Despite not having a big man the Tigers get to the rim regularly and they also have the most 3s in the region with 232.
Tommy Williams leads the way, as the area’s regular-season area scoring champion (20.8 ppg) but he is one of just four players averaging in double figures, including Luke LeRose (16.7) and freshman twins Braden Chapman (14.7) and Cole Chapman (10.2).
Shady Spring has four players with 35 or more 3s, led by Williams (54), LeRose (47), Braden Chapman (41) and Cole Chapman (35).
The Tigers have beaten a Who’s Who of state basketball teams including Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, Robert C. Byrd (21-1), Capital, Fairmont, South Charleston twice and Bluefield against the one loss to Bluefield.
Most expect Shady and Bluefield to face each other Friday in the final at Princeton and then both win their region co-final to advance to Charleston. The two split their meetings, both winning on their home court, Shady Spring 73-70 and Bluefield 74-63. Both went down to the wire.
Shady Spring last appeared in Charleston in 1994, when Spanky Francis led the Tigers into the Class AA field. The Tigers lost in the quarterfinals to Valley. The Greyhounds lost to Oceana in the semifinals and Oceana went on to win the state title
Bluefield (19-3) is a state tournament regular, making eight straight appearances in the state tournament.
The Beavers are the highest scoring team in the region, averaging 78.9 and have the most field goals (714) and they also have 152 3s.
The Beavers are led by the region’s second-leading scorer Braden Crews (20.0), who has 59 3s, including 20 in the last five games.
He had 25 in the Beavers’ 74-63 victory against Shady Spring.
The Beavers have the region’s best big man in Sean Martin, the WVU football signee. He is averaging 14.1 ppg, 8.8 rebounds and 3.9 blocks per game. He had 17 points, 10 rebounds and seven blocks in the Beavers win over Shady and he controlled the paint.
Kaulin Parris is averaging 12.2 ppg for the Beavers, Jahiem House 9.9 ppg and Tyrese Hairston 9.3.
The only other losses for Bluefield was a surprising loss to Princeton early in the season (they later beat the Tigers 81-66 and 97-65) and current No. 1 and two-time defending AA champion Chapmanville (60-50) at the New River CTC.
The Beavers had a streak of eight straight games where they scored eight games scoring over 78 points, seven over 81 points and three in the 90s.
The fewest points were the 50 against Chapmanville and 53 against Wesley Christian in a win over a team the had three McDonald’s All-America candidates.
The Beavers face an 8-14 PikeView team that fell twice to the Beavers, 86-63 and 88-55.
PikeView is led by Kobey Taylor-Williams, averaging 13.9 points and Peyton Meadows, averaging 12.4 points.