OVAC boys hoop tourney pairings set

BELLAIRE – The path to the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference boys basketball championship is officially set.

The formal pairings for next week’s Wheeling Hospital OVAC Boys Basketball Championships were set Wednesday morning at the OVAC office.

The top four teams in each class will take part in the championship portion of the event, while the remaining schools had their games assigned by the basketball committee during the meeting.

The semifinals will be held on the top two seeds’ home floors on Tuesday night. The winners will then advance to the OVAC title games on Saturday, Feb. 15 at Ohio University Eastern, while the semifinal losers will meet in the consolation games on Friday.

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

The undefeated Union Local Jets (17-0) are the top-ranked team in the state in Division III and have claimed the top seed in the 4A tourney. Coach Ben Porter’s team will open the quest for the school’s second OVAC Tourney title against rival St. Clairsville.

“It’s been an exciting season so far,” said Porter. “We have had a large number of competitive games and our kids have hung in and persevered through some challenging situations. There are three other very good teams in our class and our focus lies with St. Clairsville, which we know will be well prepared.”

The Jets have been on top of the rankings all season. The Red Devils, meanwhile, are just 10-8 and two of those losses have come to the Jets. St. C. is the only school to have qualified for the semifinals all seven years of the event. The Red Devils have claimed the last two titles.

Steubenville, which lost to St. C. in the title game a season ago, earned the second seed with an impressive 15-3 record. They’ll take on third-seeded East Liverpool, which lost int he 2012 title game to the Red Devils. The Potters are 12-5 on the season.

The deepest class is 3A where all four qualifying teams have no fewer than 12 wins.

Fort Frye earned the top seed on the strength of a 15-2 record. The Cadets drew a talented Linsly squad in the opening round. Coach James Wallace’s team is 12-3 and has won 11 games in a row to edge quality clubs like Buckeye Trail and Magnolia out for the final spot.

Monroe Central grabbed the second seed. The Seminoles are 12-4 and will have to contend with defending Class 2A runnerup Steubenville Central. The Crusaders are 14-5 on the season.

In Class 2A, Wellsville – a first-time participant in the OVAC Tournament – qualified as the top seed.

The talented Tigers earned the top spot thanks to an impressive 15-1 record.

They’ll welcome Bridgeport (11-7), which earned the fourth spot. The Bulldogs own two OVAC Basketball Tourney titles, but both came in Class A.

Defending champion Wheeling Central earned the second seed. Coach Mel Stephens’ talented Knights combine owns a 12-3 mark. Central will welcome a solid Caldwell squad (13-6) to downtown Wheeling.

In Class 5A, defending champion Parkersburg South earned the top seed thanks to a 12-2 record. The Patriots will entertain Morgantown, which qualified despite a 5-6 record.

Wheeling Park is back in the field after missing the top four a season ago. Coach Michael Jebbia’s team had won the previous four big-school crowns. The Patriots are 10-3 and will welcome third-seeded and rival Brooke (8-5).

The Patriots and Bruins haven’t met yet this season, but the OVAC game will be the first of three meetings in 12 days.

In Class 1A, a new champion is guaranteed because Conotton Valley didn’t qualify. The top seed is perennial entrant Madonna. Coach George Vargo’s Blue Dons will welcome Trinity Christian in the semifinal.

The Blue Dons are 10-4, while Trinity earned a spot with just a 5-11 record.

Bishop Donahue earned the second seed thanks to a strong 9-4 mark. The Bishops will welcome Paden City (7-5) in the semifinal.