It's going to be a busy week of boys' basketball in the Ohio Valley.
The second week of sectional play in the Eastern District gets under way this evening at a variety of venues in all four divisions.
After one week of tournament play, only Bellaire and Buckeye Local have been eliminated. Every one is still alive and battling, but several are in action tonight in head-to-head matchups, so the pool of teams will be drained quickly.
The Division IV Tournament at Union Local finally gets under way. Those teams had all week off, while UL hosted the Division II and IV girls' tournaments.
The Division II tourney at OUE is down to the final eight and one of those teams will make the trip to Athens eventually for the regional.
Meadowbrook's Division III field is trimmed to the final four as is Division III at Claymont.
By the time Saturday morning rolls around, we'll know what teams are headed for the district tournaments. Half of the sectional finals are slated for Friday, while the others will be on Saturday.
Of note, Saturday's boys games in the Eastern District are all slated for 1 p.m. The girls' district finals are slated for 7 p.m. that evening, so basketball junkies can get their fill all day long if they so desire.
ALL EASTERN DISTRICT
The All-Eastern District teams for both boys and girls will be released on Wednesday evening and will appear in Thursday's paper. These are the teams that set the stage for the all-Ohio squads that will be released during the week of the repsective state tournaments.
CHANGE THE VENUE?
I didn't get to make it up to the ASRC at West Liberty University last Saturday for the showdown with Wheeling Jesuit.
It was a little upsetting at first, but when I got to thinking about it, there was a good chance I wouldn't have gotten into the building anyway because of the huge crowd that arrived for the game.
West Liberty is one of the hottest basketball programs in the country for fans and players. Players are flocking to play in Jim Crutchfield's up-tempo offense and fans are coming out in droves to watch the exciting brand of basketball along with a team that's about to ascend to the top spot in the nation.
So, when playing your biggest rival, why not play the game at a venue that will be able to hold the most people? I understand home-court advantage and all that, but I think there's a good chance WesBanco Arena would have been near a sell out if the Hilltoppers and Cardinals played in downtown Wheeling.
Maybe it's time to move both games of the series into the downtown or at least alternate the years. By that, I mean play one game at the ASRC or McDonough Center and the second meeting in Wheeling.
I think giving up the home-court advantage would be worth it at the box office.
WEST VIRGINIA TOURNAMENTS
The Mountain State tournaments kick into full swing this week as well. While I am openly against the system West Virginia uses, which allows teams in the sectional final to lose and still have a chance to reach Charleston, I am excited to follow the Magnolia Blue Eagles' progress down the tournament trail.
Magnolia is absolutely red hot right now. The Blue Eagles hit a few speed bumps along the way during the season, but they're playing the best basketball at the right time, which is exactly what Coach Dave Tallman envisioned for this team.
On top of being hot, the Blue Eagles also dropped to Class A for this season. I am guessing you'd be hard pressed to find a team in W.Va. Class A as big and talented as the Blue Eagles.
I just don't think anyone's going to have an answer for Magnolia senior Mark Winters, who is playing at a very high level and basically just dominating the oppositions.
Throw in Zach Wilhoite and senior Stephen Rogalski and you've got a quite squad already.
Tallman already owns two state titles with the Blue Eagles and I think they'd better make room in the trophy case for another.
Winters is hungry for his first state title and I think he'll do everything within his power to get the Blue Eagles over the hump.
Other West Virginia teams to keep an eye on are Wheeling Park, which is playing exceptionally well as March approaches and Wheeling Central, which I've been a fan of how they've been playing basically all season.
Staskey can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at TLSportsSeth