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OVAC girls basketball tourney pairings set

The path to an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference girls basketball championship is set.

The brackets for the 14th annual Wheeling Hospital OVAC Girls Basketball Championship finalized Tuesday afternoon with the top four teams in each class earning the right into the semifinals, which are slated for Monday at the higher seed’s court.

This marks the first time since 2020 that the OVAC will crown its champions on the court. Last season was done via the paper champion because of the drastic differences in the Ohio and West Virginia calendars due to COVID-19.

For the first time in the history of the event, the championship games will not be held at Ohio University Eastern. Both the girls and boys championships will be held at Harrison Central High School with the girls’ title games slated for Feb. 5.

Those schools not qualifying for the championship bracket were assigned their games by the OVAC Basketball Committee.

Here’s a look at the matchups:

Class 5A

Wheeling Park — by virtue of a 14-2 record — earned the top seed. The Patriots won last season’s title, which was the 14th in their history.

Morgantown, which handed Park one of its two losses, is the second seed. The Mohigans are 12-2 on the season.

Warren Local — a relative newcomer to the OVAC — is the third seed with an 11-5 record. The Warriors will visit Morgantown for the semifinal.

John Marshall, which is 8-7, grabbed the final spot and will travel to Wheeling to take on the Patriots. The Monarchs have lost two prior meetings with Park already this winter.

Class 4A

Union Local has been the wire-to-wire leader in the standings for this class. Coach Scooter Tolzda’s team currently sits at 14-3 and at one juncture found itself on a 12-game winning streak.

The Jets are the reigning class champions, but were defeated in the 3A title game in 2020 by Fort Frye.

Oak Glen is 7-5 and pocketed the second seed. The Golden Bears haven’t won an OVAC girls basketball title since 2001.

St. Clairsville, which hasn’t won a girls title since 2007, will make the trip to Newell, W.Va. to take on Oak Glen. The Red Devils are 8-7 on the season.

Harrison Central, which owns two OVAC girls hoop titles in this format, earned the fourth spot and will take on the aforementioned Jets. The two teams just met last Saturday in the Buckeye 8 title with Union Local posting a 65-13 victory.

Class 3A

Defending champion Linsly has earned the top seed with an impressive 16-2 record. Prior to winning the conference title last spring when they finished undefeated, the Cadets has won just one conference title and it came in 2014.

The Cadets’ two losses both came at the hands of second-seeded Fort Frye. The Beverly-based Cadets are 13-3 and own 10 conference titles in girls hoops.

Bellaire, which has been one of the area’s surprising teams with a relatively young squad, garnered the third seed thanks to a 12-5 record. The Big Reds won the 2019 on the court and own eight titles overall.

Martins Ferry, which won the 4A title in 2020, battled through a mid-season rough patch to finish 10-7. The Purple Riders fended off River by 1.5 points in the average column to earn the final berth and right to visit Linsly.

Class 2A

A new champion is guaranteed as Shadyside failed to qualify. Steubenville Catholic has quietly put together a strong 12-3 record to earn the top seed.

The Crusaders haven’t claimed a conference title since 1989.

Monroe Central, which hasn’t won a title since 2009, is the second seed. The Seminoles are 14-4.

Set to visit Woodsfield is third-seeded Frontier, which owns a 12-6 mark. The Cougars have already lost twice to the Seminoles.

Southern Local, which has never won a title in girls basketball in its short time in the OVAC, qualified as the fourth seed with a solid 14-3 record.

Class 1A

Defending champion Cameron pocketed the top seed on the strength of an 11-2 record. The Dragons have won one title on the court and it came in 2018.

Beallsville, which won the last two small-school crowns on the floor, is the second seed. The Blue Devils, who own eight titles in their history, currently sport a 12-5 mark.

Trinity Christian will make the jaunt to Monroe County on Monday after earning the third seed. The Warriors are 7-4 on the season. Their lone conference title came in 2012.

Hundred earned the right to visit Cameron as the fourth seed. The Hornets are 6-4 and are seeking their first OVAC title in girls basketball.

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