The time has come.
It's time to put the final tabulations together and announce the pairings and brackets for the Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys Basketball Championship.
Well, actually the time comes Wednesday morning when the basketball committee will meet at the OVAC office to set the semi-final pairings and consolation pairings.
Today, however, is the official cut-off for the standings in the race to earn a spot in the top four.
Unfortunately, the weather isn't cooperating as most schools in the Ohio Valley are once again closed due to weather.
It'll be interesting to see if any games get played this evening. It'll especially be interesting to see what the teams that are on the edge of being in or out of the top four elect to do.
For instance, several of the races are tight both in terms of what four will be in along with what two will host games.
The tightest race is in Class 1A where Beallsville jumped into the fourth spot this week. The Blue Devils were scheduled to play Monday, but it was postponed and are slated to visit Paden City today.
Coach Casey Tolzda's team holds a slim 36 hundredths of a point lead on Trinity Christian, which is slated to play Linsly today.
In Class 2A, Cameron is trying to make a late charge. The Dragons, who host Bishop Donahue this evening, are currently in the fifth spot and trail Shadyside by 1.40 points in the average column. The Tigers are set to host Wheeling Central, which is one spot ahead of the Orange.
In Class 3A, all sorts of possibilities remain. This has been the most balanced and competitive class all season. It's really been tough to get a handle on and the late surge of Fort Frye has done nothing but muddy the waters further.
The top three teams - Buckeye Trail, Magnolia and River - are basically locked into the field, but not their seed. River trails Magnolia by 1.14 points. The Pilots are slated to host Monroe Central and the Blue Eagles have completed their pre-OVAC schedule.
Speaking of the Seminoles, they've been on a bit of a slide lately. They trail Fort Frye by 1.04 points for the final spot.
Going to be interesting today in Switzerland of Ohio because both schools need the game for different reasons. Remember, Monroe Central thumped River in December.
The Class 4A field is set. The top four teams are clearly in and the top two teams have clearly wrapped up a home game. St. Clairsville, Steubenville, Harrison Central and Martins Ferry will vie for the 4A banner next week.
The 5A field is also seemingly set with Morgantown, Parkersburg South, Indian Creek and University.
SPEAKING OF OVAC PAIRINGS
I've been at these meetings when those consolation pairings are set. It's a tedious process and I can honestly say I've never seen a member of the committee have any sort of agenda.
Obviously, there are going to be teams and schools unhappy about their assignments for the consolation pool. But, someone has to make a lengthy trip and someone has to play teams bigger than them and some have to play teams that are better than they are.
Maybe, just maybe, you go to a new place and you'll discover a new rivalry because let's be honest, each year there are schedule changes for basically every school. It never hurts to play someone different.
I guess the ultimate advice would be qualify for the top four and then you don't have to worry about putting your schedule in someone else's hands.
It was good to see some new schools back in the fold for the tournament this season.
After seeing Cambridge last Saturday, I can honestly say it's a shame the Bobcats have elected not to participate.
I've not seen Wellsville this season, but the Tigers have led the 2A standings all season.
However, they're not in the tournament. The OHSAA allowed two extra games.
Participation should have been a slam dunk.
Last week, we wrote in this space about no school, no play. We still think that's a policy that deserves more flexibility.
Take Monday for example example. Schools were closed, but since the girls' games were part of the OVAC Tournament, officials opted to take a wait-and-see approach before postponing all games for the night.
Obviously, the weather was poor and the games needed to be pushed back for the safety of everyone. That's the way the schools should work the policy. Let the officials from both schools involved talk and make a decision that makes sense.
Having said that, tonight's card could be in real jeopardy because these "clipper systems" keep wreaking havoc on the Ohio Valley. Yes, they're just nuisance snows per se, but they come at bad times for hoops.
CLIMBING THE LADDER
St. Clairsville is up to a tie for fifth in this week's Associated Press Division II poll. The Red Devils are tied with Dayton Dunbar, which is the defending state champion in the division.
The Red Devils are currently 14-2 on season after a strong 3-1 week, which included challenging non-league games against Cleveland St. Ignatius in the Dunk 4 Diabetes Shootout and Cambridge last Saturday.
The game against the Bobcats was one of the best games of the season in the area. Good play on both ends of the floor by two good teams. Making it even better was a packed house crowd despite the rough weather conditions outside.
The Red Devils have games against Union Local and Indian Creek this week before focusing on OVAC Tournament play next week.
The boys' teams will learn their paths for the postseason on Sunday afternoon. Sectional drawings will be held around the Buckeye State, starting at 2 p.m. at the respective sites. It's always one of the more interesting days of the season.
Staskey can be reached via email at email@example.com