CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- These are not the Capital and Spring Valley girls basketball teams of a decade ago.
The No. 8 seed Cougars (10-13) and No. 1 Timberwolves (22-3) face off in a first round State Tournament game at 7:15 p.m. today at the Charleston Civic Center. Each has followed a very different path - this season and over the past 10 years - to get to this point.
Both are relatively young schools born out of consolidation. Capital, a combining of Class AAA Stonewall Jackson and Charleston, opened in 1989. Spring Valley was formed from four small schools - Vinson, Ceredo-Kenova, Buffalo (Wayne) and Ceredo District - in 1998.
Historically, the Cougars stand among the state's elite programs.
Since opening its doors Capital has qualified for five State Tournaments and won two.
The 2001-02 squad, featuring WNBA players Alexis Hornbuckle and Renee Montgomery, is generally considered one of the best high school girls basketball team ever in West Virginia, finishing 27-0.
The Cougars also captured three Mountain State Athletic Conference titles with twins Shawnita and Shawnice Garland on the floor.
The Timberwolves have fielded several solid teams. The 2002-03 squad advanced to the State Tournament semifinals and Spring Valley made it to the MSAC title game in 2006 before losing to Capital.
Still, playing in a tough section and region against teams like Huntington, Nitro, George Washington and South Charleston, often left Spring Valley as the odd team out.
Not this year, though.
Led by a strong sophomore class featuring point guard Sarah Kelly and post player Madison Morris, Spring Valley not only comes back to the State Tournament, but is the top seed.
Of course, that is courtesy of Capital upsetting presumptive top seed Greenbrier East in last week's Class AAA Region 3 co-final.
"The good news is we made it," Cougars Coach B.J. Calabrese said.
"The bad news is we play Spring Valley."
While the girls basketball history at Capital is rich with names like Hornbuckle, Montgomery, RaeRae Sayles and the Garlands, it has been just history for the past several seasons.
Hornbuckle and Montgomery transferred to South Charleston after the 2002 season along with two other players and Capital has not been back to the State Tournament since. That is in spite of the MSAC titles won in 2005, '06, and '07.
This season's team showed all of the indications early on of being just another mediocre team much like had become the norm in recent seasons.