Girls’ OVAC?pairings set

BELLAIRE – The path to the 2014 OVAC girls’ basketball championship has been laid.

The Wheeling Hospital OVAC Basketball Championship Committee met Tuesday morning at the OVAC office to finalize the brackets and set the consolation pairings for next week’s girls tournament.

The semifinals are set for Monday night at the higher seeds’ gymnasium and the survivors will then converge on Ohio University Eastern’s Health and Physical Education Center in St. Clairsville on Saturday, Feb. 8 for the title games.

The championship schedule is as follows: Class 3A (10:30 a.m.); Class 4A (12:30 p.m.); Class 5A (3 p.m.); Class 1A (5:30 p.m.) and Class 2A (8 p.m.).

The Bridgeport girls earned the top seed in Class 2A. The Lady Bulldogs, who are up to fourth in this week’s Division IV AP Poll, are currently 18-0.

“Most of our players have winning the OVAC as one of their team goals,” said Bridgeport head coach Rob Zitzelsberger. “I expect us to play with intensity, play smart and give it our best effort.”

Coach Rob Zitzelsberger team is led by its talented trio of senior Nicole Smolenak, senior Maclaine Murad and sophomore Caitlyn Kroll.

The Lady Bulldogs have been on top of the 2A standings all season and are hosting for the second straight year. They fell to eventual champion Shadyside last season in the semifinals.

That loss to Shadyside has served as some motivation for Bridgeport during the off-season and throughout the regular season.

“Even though we finished with a good record after the game with Shadyside, we matured a little bit,” Zitzelsberger said. “We played well enough to win that game, but didn’t.”

The Lady Bulldogs’ reward is a date with fourth-seeded Wheeling Central, which has appeared in the last two 2A championship games. The Lady Maroon Knights are 8-5.

“Wheeling Central has a rich tradition,” Zitzelsberger said. “Plus, they have a complement of good players and knowledgeable coaches, which spells trouble for the teams they play. They handled us very easily this summer and have only gotten better. I think it will be a good matchup.”

In the other half of the 2A bracket, River earned bonus points from Monday night’s action and leaped over Frontier for the second seed.

The Lady Pilots are 13-5 and played for the 3A crown last season, falling to Fort Frye. Frontier is currently 12-3 on the season.

In Class 4A, Steubenville won its first 17 games before falling to Linsly last week and have had the top seed locked up for quite some time.

Big Red, which is now 18-1, is led by senior dandy Emiley Masloski, who recently went over 1,000 career points. Coach Phil Casinelli’s team won the 4A title last season and will begin its quest for a repeat against fourth-seeded Oak Glen (11-4).

Harrison Central earned the second seed in the class. Coach Nick Yourkovich’s team is 13-4. It will welcome upstart St. Clairsville, which finished third in the standings. The Lady Huskies and Lady Red Devils split their prior two meetings.

In Class 3A, the red-hot Linsly Cadets grabbed the top seed. Coach Erica Hall’s team dropped its season opener to Steubenville and hasn’t tasted defeat since, reeling off 15 straight wins.

Linsly is led by its freshman duo of Vivian Allison and Jazzy Orth. Sophomore standout Morgan Brunner is also a key contributor.

Linsly will welcome fourth-seeded Magnolia, which comes into the tournament with a 9-6 record. The Lady Blue Eagles edged Barnesville for the fourth seed.

Fort Frye, which has won the last two 3A titles, finished second in the ratings and will host Shenandoah. Coach Dan Liedtke’s team is 13-2, while the Lady Zeps are 10-6.

In Class 5A, Parkersburg South – the defending West Virginia Class AAA state champion – is currently 11-0 and grabbed the top seed in the big-school competition. The Lady Patriots are led by junior guard Taryn McCutchen, who is verbally committed to Michigan State.

The Lady Patriots will welcome Morgantown on Monday. It was jumped for the third seed by Indian Creek, which beat Union Local on Monday night. The Lady Redskins will trek to the city of Morgantown to take on second-seeded and defending champion University.

In Class 1A, defending champion Conotton Valley has steamrolled its way through the pre-OVAC portion of its schedule. The Lady Rockets are 17-0 and ranked sixth in the Division IV state poll.

Led by junior Olivia Bower, who recently went over the 1,000-point mark, Conotton is the top seed and will welcome fourth-seeded Paden City, which is facing better than a 2-hour trip to Bowerston.

In the other semifinal, second-seeded Madonna, which won the tourney title in 2011, will host Trinity Christian, which won in 2012.

A reminder, reserve games are contested – when applicable – during the semifinal and consolation games. However, the title games are varsity only and OUE will be cleared between games.