Titans to clash in Class AAA girls
HUNTINGTON -- The stage is set and the lights are coming on.
It's time for the big show.
Normally, a sectional tournament -- the introduction into postseason -- isn't nearly as exciting as a regional or state tournament atmosphere.
However, the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 girls basketball tournament is strongly contesting that as it hits full throttle Wednesday night.
Four teams which all were ranked in The Associated Press Top 10 throughout a large portion of the season, face off Wednesday with a simple premise -- win or go home.
The two winners will move on to the section championship and regional final.
To say the atmosphere is going to be live might be a bit of an understatement.
Cabell Midland coach Matt Adkins described it best Monday after his team defeated Lincoln County for the right to face top-seed Spring Valley in Wednesday's 6 p.m. contest at Huntington High School.
"If you can't get up for a game like that, you shouldn't be playing," Adkins said.
When Cabell Midland meets the Timberwolves, it will be a rematch of a regular-season contest in which defense reigned supreme. Spring Valley earned the 32-27 victory that day, but neither team performed at what they would consider a high-level. The Timberwolves shot 26.9 percent while the Knights struggled to a 23 percent shooting performance. The teams combined to miss all 26 3-point attempts.
While it was neither team's finest hour, each team's defense has helped pave the way for success this season.
Spring Valley's combination of length -- all five starters are 5-foot-7 or taller -- and tempo creates mismatches. The Timberwolves' full-court pressure defense also causes deflections and transition opportunities for a team ranked No. 4 in the state at 19-3.
Cabell Midland (15-5) counters with the "Twin Towers" -- seniors Emily Pitkin and Sierra Jordan -- down on the block. Pitkin is a 6-2 center while Jordan is a 5-11 power forward, and both possess the ability to dominate around the rim.
The Knights' rebounding ability enables them to keep games low-scoring and to dominate the post with their play.
As intriguing as the Spring Valley-Cabell Midland matchup is, the 8 p.m. contest between Huntington High and Logan adds just as much intrigue.
Huntington High is ranked No. 5 at 18-4, but one of those games was a 62-54 loss at Logan in December.
The Highlanders have a solid nucleus of young talent led by sophomores Dazha Congleton and Ericka Budd along with freshmen Lexi Sheffield and Jordyn Dawson. Junior sharpshooter Lacy Johnson adds an outside threat.
For 10th-ranked Logan (12-7), the talented inside-outside duo of guard Shayna Gore and post player Monica Mitchell have kept the Wildcats successful against one of the state's toughest schedules. All of Logan' losses were against state-ranked competition.
The Wednesday winners will play in the Class AAA, Region IV, Section 2 championship at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Huntington High.
That winner will host a Region IV final at 7 p.m. Tuesday while the section runner-up will travel to take on the champion of Section 1 at the same time.