Then there were only two.
The road to the Schottenstein Center has cleared another hurdle as sectional tournament action has been completed around the Buckeye State.
Only two area teams survived the first step and are headed to the next level - that being district play in Division IV.
Shadyside and River are no strangers to the district tournament as the Lady Tigers have been there five consecutive seasons, while the Pilots will be making their third straight trip, but only their second straight in Division IV after qualifying as a Division III school in 2010.
However, while the destination has always been the same, the venue has changed this year. Instead of treking to Gnadenhutten and Indian Valley High School, the local squads have to go a few more miles up the interstate to New Philadelphia High School on Thursday.
In the 6 p.m. opener, Rick Isaly's Pilots (18-6) will take on perennial state powerhouse Hiland.
River advanced with sectional wins over Frontier (39-30) and Bridgeport (53-49) last week at Union Local High School, while the state-ranked Hawks have run away from Tuscarawas Central Catholic (81-9) and Strasburg (44-32) in their two postseason contests.
In the Pilots' big win over the Bulldogs, senior Cassidy McCullough stepped to the forefront, both offensively and defensively.
Not only did she score a game-high 25 points on a variety of shots, she held high-scoring Bridgeport frosh Caitlyn Kroll in check.
For River to pull off the upset, freshman Jensen Caretti and senior Laken Ramsay will have to pick their games up a notch or two.
In the 8 p.m. nightcap, Shadyside will be looking to avenge a pair of regular-season setbacks to Bishop Rosecrans, the first coming in overtime.
The Tigers (17-7) collected sectional triumphs over Caldwell (70-26) and Barnesville (58-25), while the Bishops were defeating Malvern (69-26) and Garaway (46-43).
Shadyside is paced by the state's all-time three-point marksman in senior Karli Bonar. The University of Findlay recruit holds the record in both the boys' and girls' category. She could surpass the single-season record as well on Thursday.
She is aided by classmates Hayley Holenka and Kristen Fijalkowski.
The winners of Thursday's games will return to the home of the Quakers on Saturday, at 7 p.m., to play for a trip to the regional tournament at Jackson High School in Massillon.
Stayed tuned to The Times Leader for all the coverage of the Pilots and Tigers.
YOU'LL NEED TWO TICKETS
According to information coming out of the district tournament, the gymnasium at New Philadelphia High School will be cleared of all spectators between games.
That means fans wanting to attend both contests must pay twice.
I find this to be ridiculous and outright stupid!
DIVISION III WIPEOUTS
Local squads competing at Cambridge High School found the going rough last week inside the Gene Ford Gymnasium as Bellaire and Martins Ferry, and St. Clairsville and Union Local were all sent packing in lop-sided losses to Fort Frye and West Muskingum, respectively.
Beallsville's Tori Jarrett is wrapping up her junior season at Muskingum University. The 5-8 guard/forward averaged 9.4 points a game, which was second on the team to Hannah Nelson, a Buckeye Trail grad.
Jarrett has started 24 of 27 games for the Muskies. She has charted 103 rebounds, 29 assists, 29 steals and 16 blocked shots.
Muskingum is 8-19 overall and 2-16 in the Ohio Athletic Conference.
If there are any more female college basketball players out there, please drop me a line via email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Enjoy the games!