Pairings Set for OVAC Boys’ Tournament

First-round games to begin Tuesday

BELLAIRE — The championship games for the Wheeling Hospital OVAC Girls Basketball Tournament are set for Saturday, Feb. 17 at Ohio University Eastern.

The boys’ teams of the OVAC learned their fates Wednesday morning after the championship basketball committee met at the conference office to finalize the semi-final pairings and establish the consolation matchups for the event, which opens Tuesday.

The boys title games will be held at OUE’s Health and Physical Education Center on Feb. 17. The schedule for the title games is as follows: 10 a.m.– 2A; 12:15 p.m. — 3A; 2:30 p.m. — 4A; 4:45 p.m. — 5A and 7 p.m. — 1A.

Here’s a look at each of the five divisions:

CLASS 5A

Defending champion University is back in the field, but the Hawks garnered just the second seed with a 14-1 record. Picking up the top seed was Parkersburg South, which handed University its lone loss of the season.

The Patriots, who have won just one conference title in boys hoops in 2013, are also 14-1 on the season.

Standing between the two West Virginia heavyweights, who ranked No. 1 and No. 6 in the Class AAA poll, are Wheeling Park and Indian Creek, respectively.

Park, which owns seven OVAC big-school titles in boys basketball, qualified with an 11-3 record. Indian Creek, meanwhile, has claimed two conference banners, but none since the inaugural year of the tournament-style event in 2008. The Redskins qualified with a 10-7 record, edging out Morgantown for the final spot.

CLASS 4A

The 4A field has been firmly set — in terms of the teams — for what seemed like a few weeks, but the seeding was jockeyed up until Tuesday night’s cutoff.

Harrison Central, which has been red hot, garnered the top seed.

The Huskies, who have never won an OVAC title in the current format, are seeking their first trip to the title game.

Coach Justin Clifford’s team, which is 13-4, will welcome Steubenville to the John W. Stephenson Center.

Big Red has claimed 13 conference titles, including one in 2014. Coach Mike Haney’s team, which has squared off against a demanding schedule, has been in a tailspin with three consecutive losses. Still, however, they were able to edge out St. Clairsville for the final berth.

In the other half of the bracket, the two-time defending champion Meadowbrook Colts are the second seed. Coach Scooter Tolzda’s team will welcome Oak Glen, which has been solid for much of the campaign.

The Colts, who knocked off Steubenville on Tuesday, finished the pre-OVAC portion with a 13-5 record. Meadowbrook came into the week sitting in third place, but jumped the Golden Bears after their scheduled Tuesday game at Bellaire was postponed because of the village-wide water issue.

Oak Glen, which claimed its only OVAC title in 2004, will make the lengthy trip from New Manchester to Byesville with a 13-4 record.

CLASS 3A

Union Local put itself at the top of the standings in this class early in the season and never looked back en route to locking it down with a win at Barnesville on Tuesday.

Coach Zach Delman’s squad is currently 17-2 and is seeking the school’s third conference title. The Jets last hoisted the hardware in 2015.

If the Jets are going to reach the final again, they’ll need to prove one of sport’s adages to be false. They’ll welcome Bellaire to Morristown on Tuesday, seeking their third win against Ben Doyle’s team.

The Big Reds, who own 18 OVAC titles, enter with a 7-12 record. This is Bellaire’s second appearance in the championship bracket.

In the other half of the 3A field, second-seeded Wheeling Central resides. The Maroon Knights have been one of the area’s premier teams all winter. Coach Mel Stephens’ group owns an impressive 16-1 record.

Central’s lone blemish came to Pennsylvania power Mars during the Cancer Research Classic last month. If the Knights are to play for their 26th conference title and sixth consecutive, they’ll need to take down third-seeded Fort Frye.

The Cadets qualified with a 9-5 record and are aiming for their eighth OVAC crown in school history.

CLASS 2A

A new champion is promised in this division with Wheeling Central having moved up.

River, which lost to Central in the semifinals last winter, was the last conference team to suffer its first loss and is the top seed. The Pilots are 17-1 on the season.

Coach Mark Romick’s team, which is led by standout senior Lukas Isaly, hasn’t won an OVAC title since 1973.

For River to get to the title game, it will have to deal with fourth-seeded Toronto. Coach Sean Tucker’s Red Knights qualified with an impressive 15-5 record. Toronto, which was upset in last year’s semifinal, hasn’t won an OVAC title since 1992.

Steubenville Central is the second seed in the field with an 11-7 record. The Crusaders — despite a loss at St. Clairsville on Tuesday — held off Shenandoah for the home-court advantage.

Catholic Central hasn’t won an OVAC title since 1993. As for the Zeps, they qualified third with a 13-4 record. They’ve not won an OVAC title since 2001.

CLASS 1A

Similarly to the girls’ tournament, the Cameron Dragons are the top seed in the small-school field. Coach Jack Hart’s Dragons are currently 14-3 and are in search of their first OVAC championship in boys’ hoops in school history.

To get to OUE for the first time, Cameron will have to contend with Madonna. Coach Chris Blair’s Blue Dons, who won the 1A title last winter, grabbed the final spot despite a 4-12 record.

In the other semifinal, Morgantown Trinity will host third-seeded Valley. Trinity is 11-4 on the season and won its only OVAC crown in 2016.

Valley, meanwhile, owns a 7-9 record and is seeking its first conference title.

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