OVAC Boys’ game should feature plenty of offense

Practice time has been limited.

However, offensive fireworks shouldn’t be.

Those two concepts can mean nothing other than the Samuel A. Mumley OVAC All-Star Basketball Classic.

The annual contest will tip off Sunday afternoon approximately 20 minutes after the conclusion of the girls’ game, which begins at 3 p.m. at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville.

Team Ohio, which is being coached by Indian Creek’s Joe Dunlevy, River’s Mark Romick and Indian Creek’s Rob Lucas, managed to squeeze in four practices and according to Dunlevy, attendance was up at all of them.

“Despite spring sports and everything else going on, we had every kid there,” Dunlevy said. “We’ve not been making up or putting in any special plays or defenses. We’ve just been letting the kids play and get to know each other.”

As has been the case seemingly each time he’s coached the game, Dunlevy has been pleasantly surprised at the chemistry his squad had formed in its few workouts.

“It’s funny to look at our practice and see kids who’ve been battling against each other for four years and now they’re great friends,” Dunlevy said. “Those are the things that make this game fun. We’ve got some characters on this team, but that’s a good thing.”

Most basketball pundits and experts have labeled the Buckeye State has a prohibitive underdog, and Dunlevy has heard the chatter.

“We just hope our players show up to play the game since we’re supposed to get beat by 30,” Dunlevy joked. “We’ve got some talent, which has come from good coaches and programs, but a lot of our players didn’t advance deep into the tournament. It seems like West Virginia’s whole team played in the state tournament.”

Wheeling Park’s duo of Bubby Goodwin and Marqez O’Neal jump out from the Mountain State’s roster. But, they’re not alone.

“We’re going to go out, play hard and see what happens,” Dunlevy said.

Balancing his units became a bigger challenge during one of his aforementioned practices. Fort Frye’s Garrett Lagraen will miss the game after suffering a knee injury.

“We’re probably going to go equal until the last few minutes and then put our best out there and play hard for the win…if we’re close,” Dunlevy said.

Weirton Madonna head coach George Vargo has been sitting on top of the West Virginia basketball world over the last few weeks after he guided the Blue Dons to the Class A state championship.

He’s now enlisted to lead the West Virginia side in today’s all-star game.

West Virginia has had just two practices and those were well-organized.

“We put some things in,” Vargo said. “We’re going to give the kids freedom to use their ability and knowledge to make things happen, but we want to be ready if we have to play some old-fashioned basketball.”

The Mountain State also features only 14 players on its roster after a player decided to drop out past the deadline of being able to be replaced.

“We want to equalize the minutes as best we can,” Vargo said. “We’ll do our best to make that happen, but during the last seven or 10 minutes, we’ll make decisions on who should be on the court.”

Vargo hasn’t even looked at the Ohio roster, but he’s fairly confident in saying the Buckeyes will be bigger on the interior.

“We don’t have much size,” Vargo said. “I think we’ve got 11 guards on our roster and all of them can shoot the three, so we hope to light up the scoreboard.”