By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
It is win or else on area high school basketball courts.
‘Else’ means preparing for spring sports.
In Virginia, regional tournaments are in progress, with only the two teams that reach championship games continuing into state tournament play the following week.
Graham hopes to be one of those still playing when the Region C, Division 2 championship is decided on Saturday at Graham Middle School.
All eight teams will be action tonight, with the four survivors advancing to play each other on Friday in the semifinals, also at Graham.
The Graham-George Wythe winner will face either Grayson County (17-6) or Floyd County (19-6). The other semifinal will pit the winners of Chilhowie (14-11)-Radford (22-2) and Glenvar (18-5)-Fort Chiswell (15-10).
“I am looking forward to a great tournament this week,” Graham boys basketball coach and athletic director Glynn Carlock, Jr. said. “I think the Region C tournament is going to be exciting and I hope to be in it Friday at home.”
Graham (15-8) enters on a tailspin, having lost four of five and two straight by 16 and 19 points. Carlock expects better results tonight when the G-Men play at George Wythe (14-11), which is 14-6 since starting the season 0-5. Several of the Maroons’ defeats have come against Group AA competition.
“There is nothing here that is not correctable,” Carlock said. “The last couple of days here we have got a lot of things ironed out and got them corrected.
“I feel confident that the old team that most people have seen for three-fourths of the year from Graham will be back. It is all about effort, it is all about heart and it is all about pride. For us to be successful, we have to have effort, heart and pride when we step on the floor.”
While No. 7-seeded Graham will be led by the guard trio of Colby Hill (16 ppg), Tony Hood (12 ppg) and Spencer Sheets (11 ppg), the No. 2 Maroons enter having won the Hogoheegee regular and tournament titles.
“They have rose up here and they have played good basketball toward the end of the season...,” Carlock said. “They are very athletic, long and a talented bunch.”
The Maroons are led by 6-foot-2 guard Isaac Baltazar, 6-4 Marcus Hash, 6-foot Jalen France and Grant Anders, who is a talent shooter with court savvy. All are athletic, can rebound, put the ball in the basket and defend.
“(Baltazaar) is their best player, as he goes they go, so to speak,” Carlock said. “(Hash) is very long, athletic and runs the floor well. He has gone from being injured early in the year to becoming the leading scorer in points per game. He has a long body, he rebounds well and jumps well.”
Graham will be depending on its entire roster to advance the next step, including Zach Proffitt, who had one of his best games of the season in last Thursday’s MED tourney semifinal loss to Fort Chiswell.
“He was the one bright spot against Fort Chiswell. He had a good game, he was really the only one out there that had a good game,” Carlock said. “We are hoping he builds on that and expands on it.
“He has had a great week of practice. He has really stayed at it and has grinded hard here. I think he is due for a big night.”
Graham is prepared for what the Maroons like to do.
“We are going to have to beat their pressure fullcourt man-to-man, and they play a really tough halfcourt man once you beat that,” Carlock said. “We are going to have to play a really good game to be able to get by them.
“We have had two really good practices and we are ready to go.”
In other regional boys action, Bland County (12-11) is one win away from a state tournament berth. The Bears got a first round bye in the Region C, Division 1 tourney, and will play tonight’s winner between Holston (8-16) and Auburn (13-11) on Friday at Galax High School.
A win there and the second-seeded Bears will be state bound. The rest of the field includes top-seed Parry McCluer (19-5), which will play either Bath County (9-10) or Covington (9-14) on Friday.
The championship game will be Saturday at Galax.
Several Black Diamond District boys teams will also be on the court, including second-seeded Haysi, which faces Hurley tonight and Council, which travels to J.I. Burton in Region D, Division 1 play. The semifinals will be Friday at Lebanon.
Honaker is the second seed behind only Gate City in Region D, Division 2. The Tigers face Virginia High in a quarterfinal game tonight. The semifinals will be Friday at Castlewood.
The Region D finals will be Saturday at the Bearcat Den in Bristol.
Richlands will serve as host of Region IV, Division 3 semifinals tonight, with Abingdon facing Cave Spring and Martinsville tangling with Marion. The championship is slated for Friday.
Several regional girls tournaments are already in progress.
Richlands (18-4) will play Tazewell (14-11) tonight with the season on the line at Richlands Middle School. The tip is slated for 4 p.m., with the winner advancing to Friday’s finals, and the state tournament the following week. Patrick County and Abingdon will meet in the other semifinal tonight.
The Lady Blues are seeking their third straight Region IV championship.
The Region C, Division 2 semifinals will be Thursday at Graham, with the championship game on Saturday. Graham was eliminated from competition on Tuesday by Grayson County.
The Black Diamond District is represented in Region D, with Grundy the lone local team still playing in Division 2 play. Council, Haysi and Twin Valley all took part in Division 1 action on Tuesday.
West Virginia Girls Sectionals
McKenzie Akers and the Class AAA No. 7 Princeton (17-4) girls basketball team faces a must-win scenario tonight when the Tigerettes travel to the Fayette County Memorial Building to face Woodrow Wilson (10-12) in the Class AAA, Region 3, Section 2 semifinals.
These teams have met once this season, with Princeton winning 60-49. The Tigerettes outscored Woodrow Wilson 33-24 in the second half.
Akers, the MSAC player of the year, scored 27 points against the Flying Eagles, while Marissa Mullins and Khadija Payne added 10 apiece. The Flying Eagles (10-12) were paced by Summer Butler and Kavita Francois with 15 points apiece .
Woodrow Wilson scored just 23 points in a 33-23 MSAC tourney loss last week at St. Albans.
The winner will face top-ranked and undefeated Greenbrier East (22-0) or Shady Spring in Thursday’s championship game.
Both teams will advance to regional play next week.
Regional championships will also be determined on Thursday between PikeView and Bluefield in Princeton, Summers County and Westside at Westside, and the Class A, Region 3, Section 2 winner will be determined as well.