Girls' basketball teams have exactly one week to position themselves in the top four of their respective OVAC classification if they want to compete in the Wheeling Hospital Championships in early February.
Taking at look at the five divisions, there isn't a single one that is 'locked up' as parity has taken over.
Let's break each division down.
University has all but sealed up the No. 1 spot as it leads cross-town rival Morgantown by nearly 10 points. John Marshall is a solid third, but Wheeling Park (48.14) and Indian Creek (47.47) are battling it out for the fourth - and final - position.
The Redskins have an important game tonight when Martins Ferry visits Wintersville for a key Buckeye 8 matchup as well. The Jefferson County quint posted a victory in the Purple City just last week.
This division is similar to the one above as Steubenville, Union Local and Martins Ferry are solid in the top three spots, but Oak Glen and St. Clairsville are waging an intense battle for the final position.
The Golden Bears leap-frogged the Red Devils this week to grab the fourth spot. No. 6 Harrison Central still has an outside shot.
A pair of Pioneer Valley Conference squads hold down the No. 1 and No. 2 positions here, those schools being River and Fort Frye.
Two other PVC teams, Monroe Central and Shenandoah, are currently third and fourth, respectively, but those positions could easily change over the next week as they are separated by a little more than a point.
Linsly and Magnolia are darkhorses.
There's a new leader here as Wheeling Central nudged past Bridgeport, which suffered its first loss last week to River.
This might be the most competitive division as no less than five schools have a legitimate shot at qualifying.
The Bulldogs are a mere .30 bonus points ahead of third-place Clay-Battelle, while Shadyside is fourth. Frontier is still in the hunt.
The Cee-Bees are the unknown in this bunch as their schedule hasn't included many teams in eastern Ohio, if any! I guess only time will tell how good that squad is.
Conotton Valley holds a slim edge over St. John Central in the smallest division, while Madonna is a solid third. Trinity Christian currently holds down the fourth spot, but Paden City is a close fifth.
The OVAC Wheeling Hospital Championship semifinals will be contested on Feb. 4 at the top two seeded teams courts, while the finals are slated for Saturday, Feb. 9 at Ohio University Eastern in St. Clairsville.
A Rebound Machine
Harrison Central's Katie Ellzy pulled down a career-high 22 rebounds last week. She's not only a force on the basketball court, but the softball diamond, as well, for the Huskies.
Crossing the River
Magnolia's Mallory Chapman fired in a career-high 41 points last week. She, like Ellzy, is a dominant pitcher for the Blue Eagles in the spring.
Not Unbeaten Anymore
Bridgeport, as mentioned above, sustained its first loss last week when River flowed into the John J. Havlicek Gymnasium and took the Lady Bulldogs out of the game early on.
Pilots' freshman Jensen Caretti continued to dominate the opposition. The 6-footer is only going to get better. I can't wait to see how she develops over the course of her career.
With the loss, that leaves Clay-Battelle as the lone unbeaten in the OVAC, boys or girls.
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