It's been quite a month of sports in the Ohio Valley.
All of the winter sports champions have been crowned ... finally.
The quest for the OVAC pennant for basketball, wrestling, swimming and cheering wrapped up last weekend with the sixth annual Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys Basketball Championships at Ohio University Eastern.
It was once again quite a day of hoops. All but two of the games came down to the wire and were highly entertaining. The crowds were decent, but not as good as they were in 2012.
I took in the first three games of the day and was highly impressed with both Steubenville Central and Wheeling Central.
Personally, I think it'll be the same two teams in the title game next year. Both rosters are underclass dominated. Steubenville Central, which visits Bridgeport in a 6:30 p.m. varsity only contest tonight, is a feisty basketball team. I really like how they play and love the intensity with which Sean Tucker coaches.
Wheeling Central, meanwhile, is a team that's steadily improved and that trend continued against the Crusaders. Trailing much of the way, Central rallied for a late victory and the 2A crown.
Freshman Chase Harler is going to be a very special player before it's all said and done. He's already doing big things and he's only going to be get better. Junior David Park is extremely talented as well. He's got a nice frame and is a very adept perimeter shooter.
In the Class 3A game, Magnolia simply took Buckeye Trail behind the woodshed. The Blue Eagles were too big for the Warriors, who have a very nice club.
Senior standout Mark Winters, who I believe is the premier player on the West Virginia side of the river this winter, saddled up the Blue Eagles. He did have some help though as senior standout Stephen Rogalski played exceptionally well.
The Warriors, however, will be a team to keep an eye on in the Division III sectional at Meadowbrook.
St. Clairsville and Steubenville was a track meet as advertised. The Red Devils overcame not having a field goal in the final quarter to win their second straight title.
It was a very entertaining game going end-to-end, but it got a little sloppy. Both teams turned the ball over more times than they're accustomed. St. C. didn't shoot it as well as they normally do, but Steubenville couldn't get much going from the perimeter, either.
Though he was bottled up late, senior standout Dan Monteroso turned in another brilliant effort as he's done so many times during his career. But, he wasn't alone. Riley Carlton returned from an injury to play well. Dylan Campbell gave good minutes off the bench, while Jerrid Marhefka and Adam Jeffries were steady as always.
As we've written countless times in this space over the years, this basketball tournament has a chance to be something really special. It's continuing to get better and the more teams who experience it, the better it will be.
The first boys' tournament of the week in the Eastern District gets under way on Wednesday when back-yard rivals Bellaire and Martins Ferry meet in the Division III sectional at Meadowbrook.
The boys' tournament really heats up on Friday of this week.
In today's day and age of expensive gas and crowds being down, why make two teams five miles apart travel clear to Byesville to play a game? I thought the Eastern District put in rules a few years back that it reserved the right to move games due to geographic reasons. I'm not sure there's a better geographic reason than this.
Speaking of the Eastern District tournaments, I give kudos for playing more doubleheaders this season. That's a smart move.
However, publishing times of 6 p.m. and 8 p.m. seems silly. Why not say the second game begins 25 minutes following the conclusion of the first game?
I've been to a few girls' games already where there's upwards of 45 minutes between the games. That's just wasted time, especially when you're not clearing the gym. And again, there's no need to do that.
We send our congratulations out to Harrison Central senior Fletcher Watt, who surpassed the 1,000-point mark last week in the Huskies' OVAC Tournament loss to Steubenville.
We send our thoughts and prayers out to Union Local senior Jacob Bailey and wish him a speedy recovery from his season-ending injury. Bailey has been a very solid player and had an impressive four-year career for the Jets. Earlier this season, he surpassed the 1,000-point mark for his career. Bailey is actually one of the more underrated players in the Ohio Valley.
Unfortunately, he was injured and Jets' head coach Vaughn Butler got the bad news that he won't be back this season.
The St. Clairsville Red Devils went 2-0 last week, but they slipped a spot in this week's final Associated Press Boys Basketball Poll. The Red Devils are fifth in the Division II rankings, trailing Thurgood Marshall, Bishop Watterson, Columbus Brookhaven and Canton South.
St. Clairsville senior Dan Monteroso is going to be a regular in North-South All-Star Games this spring. It was earlier made known that he had been selected for the football game, which will be played in Dayton in April.
He was voted into the Ohio North-South Basketball Game on Sunday night to represent District 12 in the Division I/II game.
The Division III/IV representative from the District 12 Coaches Association is Fort Frye's Shon Smith.
SPEAKING OF ALL-STAR GAMES
In just a few weeks, we should know the rosters for the Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Basketball Classic, which will be played at Ohio University Eastern on Sunday, April 7.
The voting for the game is done online and the balloting ends today. Once game director Tom Bechtel and assistant Gene Ammirante confirm all of the players' for the game, the rosters will be made public.
LET THE HONORS BEGIN
As the season officially winds down, post-season honors begin to roll in in the coming days and weeks. The meeting for the Associated Press All-Eastern District teams will be held Wednesday in Cambridge. Those are expected to be released sometime next week. Obviously, the District 12 All-Stars were chosen on Sunday evening in Cambridge.
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org