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March Madness At the Prep Level

It’s the first week in March, and that means it’s time for West Virginia high schools to open their basketball seasons.

Yes, we said basketball. And wrestling. And swimming. If you are thinking these are sports that typically take place during the winter months and would be wrapping up in March, you would be correct.

But as we’ve all learned over the past year, the times are anything but typical, and an upside-down schedule that has winter sports being played in the spring, and spring sports running toward summer … it comes as no surprise.

While it’s a long way from the traditional early December starts that fans and athletes have come to expect in the Mountain State, it’s good to see that local athletes will get on the court, hit the mats and dive into the pools this week. It was not that long ago that winter sports were in serious doubt as COVID-19 cases spiked.

The time of year will be just one of many differences fans will notice. Teams, for example, will be playing fewer than their usual 20-game schedules. Plus, West Virginia has added a fourth classification, which will lead to a different look for the post-season tournament.

Also missing will be games against interstate opponents, as schools in bordering states are already in tournament play. That points to another of the frustrations brought on by the pandemic. It takes less than 15 minutes, for example, to drive from Wheeling to St. Clairsville. While athletes in West Virginia had to sit and wait, their counterparts in Ohio were, for the most part, able to complete basketball, wrestling and swimming without issue.

All that ends, though, as action gets underway. Good luck to our local teams this winter season.

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