CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The 2012-13 high school basketball season enters its second half for most teams this week.
For many, including myself, the cobwebs left from football season are still being cleared. Bob Huggins wasn't entirely wrong recently, when he bemoaned the state's difficulty in simultaneously paying attention to football and basketball.
It's especially hard to make that transition at the high school level, when so many student-athletes participate in both sports.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.
The Buddha said that. Maybe it was Ferris Bueller.
Either way, it is in the spirit of that statement that we take stock of the sport in the state at its unofficial midpoint.
Top-ranked Martinsburg is 9-0 and possesses talent, depth and a chip on its shoulder after the 2012 meth motel debacle at the State Tournament. The Bulldogs, led by 6-foot-7 senior Donte' Grantham, easily dispatched of No. 3 Hedgesville (9-1) on the Eagles' home court late last week, and - here's where the boots quake, or should, at least a little - might actually be farther ahead of the Class AAA field than the Martinsburg football team was last fall before it became just the second school ever to win three consecutive big-school state titles.
The biggest challenge might very well be posed by second-ranked South Charleston (9-1), whose depth is its strongest asset. Its second-best trait is the play of point guard Rashaud Kincaid and tough sophomore A.D. Cunningham. Toughness and strong play at the point are critical to postseason success, when the grind of tournament time begins to wear on teams.
Look at the most recent state champions - Hedgesville, George Washington, Logan, Martinsburg and Beckley. All of them had the aforementioned qualities in spades.
Depth never hurts.
"We've got four of five guys that can come off the bench and we don't lose a lot," South Charleston Coach Vic Herbert said.
"(Kincaid) is the guy who does all the work as far as keeping everyone together. I'm real proud of him, and he's done that for three years now. You've got to expect that out of your point guard."
Greenbrier East (11-0), ranked fourth this week and the only team besides Martinsburg without a loss, is currently the second-highest ranked team from Region 3.
With the regional realignment that accompanied reclassification in the 2012-13 school year, Region 3 welcomed South Charleston to the fold while retaining No. 6 Princeton (9-2), George Washington (7-3), Beckley (4-4), Riverside (5-6), Capital (4-8) and Ripley (2-8).
New-to-Class AAA Shady Spring and Oak Hill are also in the mix, and the preliminary tournaments that lead to two State Tournament bids could be the most exciting of any region in the class.
A midseason projection of the Class AAA field for the 100th annual State Tournament looks like this:
First round exits - Hurricane, Huntington, Parkersburg South, Greenbrier East
Semifinals - Martinsburg over Hedgesville, South Charleston over Morgantown
Champion - Martinsburg