Rolling Into Regional Play!

The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
Sports Editor

It doesn’t really matter how you get into the regionals just as long as you provide yourself with the opportunity to compete for a spot in Charleston!
Making the State Tournament is the goal for every boys and girls team in West Virginia. It has been a long road that started back in November. With all of that time and effort included it’s only right that the best of the best are afforded the right to perform on the biggest stage available. The win or go home technique that the WVSSAC employed for such a long time in postseason play used to penalize teams based on their geographical location. But now, under newer provisions, from the governing body that controls high school athletics in the Mountain State, teams have the opportunity to advance even if they suffer a setback.
Any team that makes it to the sectional championship game is automatically, regardless of a win or a loss, provided the right to participate in regional play.
This rule change has its fair share of supporters but there are those basketball purists that feel that the integrity of the game has been compromised.
Some have even gone so far as to question if teams might not provide their best effort because they know that win or loose they will be able to hit the hardwood the very next week. However, there is more than one motivator involved in the sectional final that drives both squads to compete at the highest level. The first is rivalry, which brings out the best in both teams. For example, last Saturday the Robert C. Byrd – Bridgeport lock-up was the third time this season that these squads did battle and it was by far the closest contest of the three. On the girl’s side, Lincoln and Bridgeport waged war for the sectional crown and I can guarantee that no player took a vacation in the affair.
The second is travel. Nobody wants to hit the road especially for a two plus hour bus ride, which is what RCB (boys) and the Bridgeport (girls) had to endure. The benefit for the victor is a home game that comes complete with all of the perks. There is truth in the old saying that the ¬there is no place like home.
The final factor is tournament seeding. Take for instance the boys Class AA tournament field that includes up to five teams that have a legitimate shot at claiming the gold. A higher seed would obviously bring a weaker opponent and a greater probability for advancement. The goal is to get the best teams to Charleston and this format gives the best scenario for that to occur. At the same time it does penalize the losing teams and if a squad wins a regional game in spite of a lengthy trip they deserve the right to advance to the big dance.
The Bridgeport girls’ team is an example of a team that benefited from the change and will compete this week in Charleston. First year Head Coach, Paul Ayers and his team earned the right to compete and now fans statewide will be able to see his team in action. It’s a win for every one involved.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!

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