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Boys basketball: 100th anniversary was just right

After taking in 30 basketball games in 11 days, the notion that March Madness has yet to begin is somewhat laughable to me.

So, while my inbox has been inundated with requests and offers to join this or that NCAA Tournament bracket challenge, I think I'll take a pass and at least wait until Liberty plays...

Who is Liberty playing tonight in Dayton? Tug Valley? St. Joe's girls?

Anyway, I want to take a few moments and try to recall some of the highs and lows of the past two weeks at the Charleston Civic Center.

The 100th Boys State Basketball Tournament - no, not the 100th anniversary, that's next year - was a successful venture, at least in terms of bringing some sense of history to the event.

"We didn't want to overdo it, and we didn't want to underdo it," Secondary School Activities Commission Executive Director Gary Ray said Monday. "I think what we did was appropriate. I think it turned out well."

From the recognition of past tournament participants ranging from players and coaches to team managers and cheerleaders, the four-day event served as a reunion for many, and did so without much of the forced activity that typically accompanies such gatherings.

In many ways, it was just a bunch of old guys hanging around talking about basketball, and there's not a single thing that is wrong with that.

A personal highlight came at halftime of the Class AA boys semifinal between Fairmont Senior and Bridgeport, when former Paden City coach Bob Burton - my high school coach - spotted me on press row, left the lineup to approach the press table and patted me on the cheeks as if I were still a 10th grader.

At 15 or 16, I would have bristled at the physical contact, because in those days some form of instruction that wasn't posed with much concern for my inner child would have accompanied it. Burton was a task-master, not a tree-hugger.

At 41, the moment left me in need of a quick second to compose myself.

"Derek! Great to see ya," he said enthusiastically. "I always thought you were good at this stuff!"

I'm far from the only person that had such a moment through the weekend, and the fact that the SSAC created an environment in which the celebration was about the people and not the organization is to its credit.

*  *  *

WHILE THE girls state tournament was full of underclassmen leading their teams to championships, the boys tournament left many wondering about the 2013-14 season.

Tug Valley capped off its second state championship season on the strength of its guard play supplied by Austin Brewer and Mikey Newsome, both of whom are seniors. Martinsburg won its second Class AAA title in the last five years with a senior-dominated lineup, and it is difficult to gauge how much of a hit the Bulldogs will sustain when Spring Mills High School opens in August, taking students away from Martinsburg and Hedgesville in the process.

Martinsburg's current class of juniors will remain at their school for their senior seasons, as Spring Mills will contain grades 9-11 next year. After that, however, it is anyone's guess.

The only state champion that won a title on the backs of underclassmen was Class AA champ Bluefield. Led by juniors Anthony Eades, Lykel Collier and Michael Yost, the Beavers should remain the top contender in the class next season.

*  *  *

POCA COACH Allen Osborne sent a text Thursday night that showed how much he is looking forward to getting back into the gym.

"Big 10 - 2, Cardinal - 0 round 1," it read.

The Big 10-Cardinal Conference Challenge, scheduled for Dec. 21 as the highlight of the annual Hoops Classic, will feature six of the eight teams that qualified for the Class AA state tournament field. Teams from the Big 10 were victorious in two head-to-head meetings in Thursday's quarterfinals.

Robert C. Byrd topped Tolsia and Fairmont Senior beat Scott.

*  *  *

CAPITAL WILL play a maximum of 20 regular-season games in the 2013-14 season.

Ray ruled on March 4 that the Cougars had violated the SSAC rules that set maximum levels for games for a team and quarters played by a student-athlete in one season in the 2012-13 campaign. The Capital boys team played 23 regular-season games, one more than is allowed by the SSAC.

Coach Carl Clark was placed on probation for the 2013-14 season, as was the program. The team will be allowed to participate in postseason play.

"According to the handbook, there's three levels of disciplinary action. One is a warning, then a second is probation," said Ray, who declined to go into specifics regarding the case.

Ray said there was a third level, which could involve fines or even the suspension of a program.

"Essentially what probation means is to notify the school and the program and warn them that any further infractions could be more severe," Ray said.

Capital finished the season with a 10-15 record, and was 9-14 in the regular season.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT


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