By DAVE MORRISON
ESPN Radio 102.3 The Ticket
It’s certainly not 2010, when Class AA Region 3 ran the state in basketball.
One two week period, or was it three, Oak Hill, Wyoming East and Shady Spring were 1-2-3 in the Class AA poll. Talk about a powerful Region. Heck, those three were in the same section.
It changed only because they started beating each other.
PikeView was also in that Top 10 and Westside and Bluefield weren’t far outside the Top 10.
The pollsters were proven correct when Wyoming East and Oak Hill played for the state championship. Same section, folks. Oak Hill won the first of two straight titles that year.
You can make a convincing case that Region 3 area teams owned the period between 1992 and 2014, when, in that 23 year span, a team from the area played in the state championship game 20 times, winning a state title on 11 occasions. Bluefield won four titles, Wyoming East three, Oak Hill two and Greenbrier West and Oceana won one each. Oceana is, of course, now Westside. Runners-up include Bluefield three times, Oceana, Westside, Wyoming East, Oak Hill and Independence.
It’s a remarkable run by Region 3.
Only three years saw no Region 3 area teams in the state title game – 1998, 2001 and 2004. Of course, the last two seasons it’s been Poca and Fairmont with each team winning once. It very well may turn out that way again this year.
If nothing else, the Region is going to be ultracompetitive, and, for the first time in a few years, Section 2 may boast the most talent, if only by a hair.
Shady Spring and Bluefield played a scrimmage game – a rare instance in which same-section teams would play a scrimmage but each needed one. No stats were kept aside from the score. Shady Spring won three quarters, Bluefield one and they tied in another. Totaled up, Shady won the five quarters of the scrimmage 69-58.
Make no mistake, Shady Spring is loaded, with everyone back – the entire team – and it’s reaping the benefits of playing a Class AAA schedule last year.
The area’s leading scorer Jon Sawyers (18.9 ppg) is healthy after missing the last half of the season a year ago with a foot injury. Cole Honaker replaced the scoring lost when Sawyers went down and had several 20 point games and finished averaging better than 12 points. Keith Sexton is a weapon returning.
“I think this team is very hungry and last year helped us more than we know,” coach Ronnie Olson said.
Bluefield is led by Mookie Collier, who averaged 17.3 points per game and hit the game-winning putback in the Region 3 co-final at Westside. The word in Bluefield is this team may be a year or two away from returning to the form of the 2013-14 teams (Anthony Eades, Lykell Collier) that won back-t0-back titles. They have a boatload of young talent.
PikeView also advanced to the Region 3 co-finals a year ago, losing to Wyoming East. In fact, both home teams lost in the co-finals a year ago. The Panthers have four of its starting five back, led by Seth Meadows, who averaged 18.3 ppg and hit 52 3s. He has also taken over 100 charges in his career, 41 a season ago.
Meadows hit on 6 of 8 3s and had 20 in a scrimmage victory over Liberty, Va. Saturday.
He is surrounded by talented players in Wayne Brookman (12 and 10 rebounds in the scrimmage), Tyler Cecil (16), Tyler Boyd (10) and Todd Vest (five assists).
If PikeView gets shooting like a year ago the sky is the limit for this team. In its final eight games, PikeView hit 60 3-pointers.
“Our challenge early is to establish a little depth in the rotation,” coach Colton Thompson said.
James Monroe welcomes new coach Matt Sauvage, who is taking over for John McPherson, who moved on to an administrative post in Monroe County.
Over in Section 1, well, it’s basically always been about Wyoming County. Last year was no different, as Wyoming East and Westside both advanced to the Region 3 co-finals. After three years of watching rival Westside advance to the state tournament, Wyoming East advanced and lost to Poca in the semifinals.
New coaches fill those two posts, Derek Brooks at Wyoming East replacing Rory Chapman and Shawn Jenkins at Westside, replacing Nick Cook.
Adding a little father-son flavor, Derek will be joined on the staff by his dad Herbie (a former all-stater who still holds the record for points in a state tournament game with 50 and also was a star at WVU) and Shawn’s top player is his son Shane, who averaged 18.0 points per game a year ago.
Brooks believes he has five or six potential double figure scorers on the team and four of them reached double digits (Dylan Brehm 24, Zach Cook 17, Logan Mullins 16 and Corey McKinney 16) Tuesday night in a 95-61 scrimmage victory against Nicholas County.
Jenkins is one of the top players in the Region and is surrounded by a great cast of players in Isaiah Lester, Corey Hatfield and Jacob Ellis.
“I couldn’t be more excited,” Shane Jenkins said. “My whole time playing in middle school I played for my dad and I really enjoyed it. I wouldn’t want to play for anybody else.”
Independence has a formidable lineup, featuring three scoring threats in Tyler Haga (13.5 ppg), Markus Guy (10.1) and Dylan Dickens (14.5), the latter of whom transferred over from rival Liberty.
Oak Hill is back in the Class AA fold and Benitez Jackson, who coached on the 2010-11 state champion teams under Fred Ferri, has a young team, led by budding standout Andrew Work, who averaged just under 10 ppg as a freshman last season.
Liberty lost a lot, but coach Aaron England said he is excited to have former Raider Seth Wimbish on the staff.
It may not shape up as 2010, but it certainly will be interesting.
A couple girls basketball scores from last night. Greenbrier East beat Midland Trail 83-34 and PikeView lost to Ripley 67-54.
The defending Class AA champion Wyoming East girls open the season at a tournament in Fairmont where they will face Class AAA No. 1 and defending state champion Morgantown and No. 2 and AAA runner-up Huntington. The Lady Warriors are certainly not easing into the season.