Wheeling Rec. Shootout features impressive field

Photo Provided PICTURED ARE some of the players who will be in action this weekend as part of the 29th annual Wheeling Recreation Boys Shootout. From left are Cal Kildow, Elijah Baker (Union Local), David Croft, Donovan Goddard, DeVaughn McWhorter, Keondre King (Wheeling Park), Bray Price and Anthony Robbins (Wheeling Central).

WHEELING — The official start of basketball season is still some five months away.

However, teams are already preparaing for the 2018-19 campaign and that kicks into full swing this weekend when 32 teams converge on Wheeling for the 29th annual Wheeling Recreation Boys Shootout, which will open Saturday afternoon.

Over the course of two days, the basketball bonanza will feature some 80 games during the course of the event, which will culminate with the crowning of the champion Sunday afternoon at Linsly. Other venues in use this weekend are four courts at Wheeling Jesuit University and two courts at Wheeling Park High School.

Each team is promised five games, including three on Saturday. Teams representing three states are included in the field with Ohio leading the way with 20 schools.

Non OVAC schools competing in the event are Canfield, North Robinson Colonel Crawford, Dalton, John Glenn, Licking Heights, Logan Elm, Malvern, Vermillion, West Branch, Western Reserve and Zanesville.

The Pennsylvania schools involved are Peters Township and two-time defending champion Mount Lebanon. North Marion is the lone West Virginia school from outside of the OVAC.

Mt. Lebanon, which had three players on the all-tourney team a year ago, returns only Mike Palmer from those honorees. Mt. Lebanon is trying to become the first school in shootout history to win three consecutive titles.

Wheeling Central, which captured the Class A State Championship and finished 25-2, returns to the field. Coach Mel Stephens’ team lost several key pieces to graduation, but return a solid nucleus with Anthony Robbins and Bray Price leading the way.

Meadowbrook advanced to the Ohio Division II State Tournament for the first time under Coach Scooter Tolzda. The Colts return six of their top nine from that squad.

Colonel Crawford will be a team to keep an eye on. The Eagles finished 20-5 last season and return a pair of double-figure scorers in Cameron McCreary (15) and Jordan Fenner (10).

Union Local, which claimed the Buckeye 8 title and finished with a 20-4 record, returns second-team all-Ohioan Cal Kildow, who poured in 18 points a night.

Wheeling Park returns a pair of all-state players in Alex Vargo and Keondre King, who averaged 17.2 and 15.4 points per game, respectively.

Here’s the first-round schedule:

Wheeling Jesuit New Gym (Far end)

1 p.m. — Meadowbrook vs. Brooke

2 p.m. — Bridgeport vs. John Glenn

Wheeling Jesuit New Gym (Near end)

1 p.m. — Weir vs. Mt. Lebanon

2 p.m. — Massillon Jackson vs. Madonna

Wheeling Jesuit Old Gym

1 p.m. — St. Clairsville vs. Cameron

2 p.m. — Dalton vs. Wheeling Central

Wheeling Jesuit Old Gym

1 p.m. — John Marshall vs. Colonel Crawford

2 p.m. — West Branch vs. Shadyside

Linsly Main Court

1 p.m. — Peters Township vs. Union Local

2 p.m. — Linsly vs. Licking Heights

Linsly Old Gym

1 p.m. — Buckeye Local vs. Logan Elm

2 p.m. — Martins Ferry vs. Vermillion

Wheeling Park Main Court

1 p.m. — Patriots vs. Western Reserve

2 p.m. — Wheeling Park vs. Monroe Central

Wheeling Park Side Court

1 p.m. — Malvern vs. Zanesville

2 p.m. — Harrison Central vs. North Marion

Note: All teams that play 1 p.m. will also play at 3 and 5 p.m.; Teams that play at 2 p.m. will play at 4 and 6 p.m.