By DAVE MORRISON
ESPN Radio 102.3 The Ticket
Every year there is a lot of static about which region is the best.
Like polls, rankings, indexes and everything else, there is subjectivity about the issue.
Every season is different. You can have a year with a lot of great teams, you can have a down year with a great team and a lot of subpar ones, you can have a year where an area is stacked.
Look no further than Class AA Region 3 in 2010 when three teams were ranked 1-2-3 (Oak Hill, Wyoming East and Shady, and PikeView was in the top 10. Many years Martinsville and Hedgesville have topped the polls.
Generally these things work themselves out in the tournaments, the cream rises to the top.
But in girls’ basketball, Region 3 has been at the top of the mountain since 2000. No subjectivity there, it’s a fact.
Since 2000, a string of 17 state title games, Region 3 has crowned 11 state champions (Summers County has six, James Monroe two, Westside two and Wyoming East one). It has had a team play in all but three state title games in that span, missing out in 2004, 2005 and 2015.
Where is the Region now? It’s in pretty good shape and could well hoist another banner if Monday is any indication.
Injuries mounted in the early part of this season, including the loss of state player of the year candidate Gabby Lupardus for the season, and Wyoming East is 8-4 through the first half the of the season. Wyoming East entered the week ranked No. 7 in Class AA.
Bluefield is legit at 10-1 and was ranked third, Westside is 8-1 and ranked No. 6. River View is No. 8. That’s four of the top eight teams.
Summers County is playing in its first year as a Class A school after winning those six titles, including an unprecedented five in a row.
On Monday, Region 3 struck a blow for the area and showed that the region is still a strong one.
Bluefield knocked off Class AA No. 1 North Marion, 65-62. No. 7 Wyoming East beat No. 4 Fairmont Senior 64-57 in a rematch of last year’s state championship game and down in Class A Summers County knocked off No. 1 and defending champion Gilmer County 58-52. All were at East Fairmont.
Now, you could look at this as a team being fortunate in one game, or maybe an opponent played poorly in one game.
Evidence says otherwise.
Everyone knows Wyoming East has played a killer schedule. The losses are to Class AAA No. 1 Huntington (68-63), Class AAA No. 2 South Charleston (54-45) and a couple of Kentucky teams, the latter three without Lupardus and key players like Emily Saunders and Kara Sandy missing time as well.
South Charleston was the last loss, Wyoming East has won seven straight since that time.
Among the wins are Class AAA No. 6 Martinsburg, which is 10-2 (66-49), Class AAA No. 7 Morgantown (68-46), Class AA No. 3 Bluefield (69-50), Class A No. 3 St. Joes (70-67) and now Fairmont. That is a hefty, and an impressive resume.
What about Bluefield? They own a win over Martinsburg as well (in fact, the Bulldogs only two losses this season were on back-to-back nights on a southern swing over the Christmas break), No. 5 Greenbrier East, No. 7 Westside (by a point), Class A No. 5 Summers County and now North Marion. Yes, the one loss was to Wyoming East.
Westside’s only loss was to Bluefield, by a point (52-51), and the Renegades started the season with an impressive win over a quality Nicholas team (57-56). The eagerly-anticipated showdown with Wyoming East and a rematch with Nicholas were postponed due to weather. It’s easy to look at the schedule at this point, but keep in mind, this year’s seniors were on the team that won the state title in 2014, the last title for a team that played in three straight state championships, winning two.
Summers County struck its own blow in Class A with the big victory over Gilmer. Summers has won four straight after losing to Bluefield, the other loss to AAA Cabell Midland.
Anything can, and sometimes it does, happen. These teams, have shown they are capable of making a title run for Region 3.