Boys to tip off tourney play

Feb. 27—Below is a look at this week's boys high school tournament action involving Fayette County teams:

Class AAAA Region 3, Section 2

The No. 4 seed Oak Hill Red Devils (8-12) will tangle with No. 1 Woodrow Wilson (12-9) at 7 p.m. on Tuesday, Feb. 27 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. In the other section semifinal, No. 2 Princeton will host No. 3 Greenbrier East on Tuesday.

The championship will be at 7 p.m. on Friday at the highest remaining seed.

During the regular season, Oak Hill dropped a narrow 66-64 road verdict to Woodrow Wilson, playing without standout Elijah Redfern, in the Little General Tournament in late December. On Feb. 8, the Flying Eagles invaded the Lilly Center and came away with a resounding 76-48 victory.

"I think we are (playing a little better), but we've got to play really good basketball to beat Beckley," said Oak Hill head coach Benitez Jackson. "They're really good offensively and defensively."

The key will be "defending a lot better than before, try to take care of the basketball and control the tempo of the game."

In the game at Beckley, Jackson recalled that his team "shot the ball really good in the first half" with 12 3-pointers. That didn't happen in the second encounter. "At home, they killed us," he said.

It's been an up-and-down campaign for Oak Hill, Jackson said. "We've been inconsistent (especially defensively). Some games, I think we're turning the corner and some games, I think we're starting over.

"We've put together a couple game stretches where we've played pretty good. It's going to take one of our best efforts to play against Woodrow."

In its final three outings, Oak Hill posted a win over PikeView (66-40 on Feb. 16) a loss to South Charleston (77-37 on Feb. 20) and a victory over Nicholas County (51-44 on Feb. 22).

Senior Malachi Lewis leads the Red Devils into the tournament with a scoring average of 15.6 points a game, in addition to pulling down 5.5 rebounds and passing out 3.3 assists per night. Levi Kiszka averages 8.7 points and 4.8 rebounds per contest, Brent Conley scores at a 6.3 ppg clip, Armonyi Hicks chips in 5.6 ppg, and Andre Wright adds 5.2 points an evening.

Class AAA Region 3, Section 1

No. 2 seed Midland Trail, the No. 8 Class AAA team in The Associated Press poll, will host No. 3 PikeView on Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Flournoy Center.

In late December, the Patriots (18-4) defeated the Panthers 66-58. "That's the game Bryar (Bailes) got hurt," said Midland Trail head coach Curtis Miller. "We were up big and they came back on us."

The Patriots then got the better of the visiting Panthers by a nearly identical 64-58 tally on Feb. 20.

Playing PikeView the second time close to tournament play didn't concern Miller. "Not at all," he said prior to that outing. "I kinda like it.

"We get to look at what we're going to do next Tuesday, so we know what we've got to work on between now and then."

In the Feb. 20 game, the Patriots built up a seven-point lead by the end of the first quarter and remained steady the rest of the way. Eli Campbell scored 18 points and Justin Cooper netted 14 to guide the Trail attack. Bryar Bailes chipped in nine points, and Jaden Gladwell tallied eight.

Both Bailes and Campbell converted a trio of 3-point goals.

"We haven't played well in the last week," Miller said last Monday. "We've lost our want-to-win, our passion. We got satisfied, is what I told them. We got on a roll for a while, but ... hopefully we're going to get that (desire) back."

His team must be prepared if it is to survive a "brutal" section tournament that also includes No. 1 Shady Spring and No. 4 Independence. The section championship game is set for 7 p.m. on Friday at the highest remaining seed.

"PikeView's record's not the greatest (7-15), but they're not bad," said Miller. "For us, they're huge. That poses problems for us. We've got to figure out how to combat their size, because we don't have any."

The Panthers ended Midland Trail's season a year ago, beating the Patriots in overtime in the first round of the tournament.

"I feel like we've been through the gamut of things now," said Miller. "We've won big, we've won close, we've lost close and then Friday night (Feb. 16), we lost big (Herbert Hoover).

"We've just got to figure out when we do get down how to fight and not give up and claw back out of it. We've got a bunch of seniors, so I think they'll be all right. I think they'll respond well."

Down the stretch, Midland Trail suffered losses to Greenbrier West (62-53) and Herbert Hoover (69-43) and posted wins over Sherman (67-53), PikeView (64-58) and Clay County (78-45).

Eli Campbell's 16.7 points per game average leads a balanced Midland Trail offense. The senior has connected on 68 3-point goals and logged 3.7 assists per game.

Payton Bailes follows at 11.7 points a night and 55 3-pointers. Justin Cooper scores at a 10.0 clip and claims 4.4 rebounds per game. Bryar Bailes scores 8.4 points a game, Thad Brown supplies 8.2 points and 7.8 rebounds a game, Jaden Gladwell contributes 7.4 points, 4.5 assists and 2.1 steals an outing, and Landon Syner provides 3.1 points and 4.2 boards nightly.

Class A Region 3, Section 2

The Meadow Bridge Wildcats (4-18), the No. 3 seed, will travel to Charmco to take on No. 2 Greenbrier West (12-10) on Wednesday, Feb. 28 on the opening night of the Class A Region 3, Section 2 boys tournament. In the other game, No. 1 Webster County will entertain No. 4 Richwood.

The championship game is scheduled for Friday, March 1 at the highest remaining seed.

"We've got 100 times better since the beginning of the season," Meadow Bridge head coach Brandon Wickline said. "We were right there (in) four or five games that we should have won.

"We played a pretty tough schedule."

The Cavaliers defeated the Wildcats twice during the regular season.

"The first time, they blew us out pretty good (88-38 on Dec. 22)," Wickline said. "In the second game (93-49 on Feb. 10), we were competitive for a half and their depth just took a toll on us."

The keys for a better showing will be "not turning the ball over, and we've got to make some outside shots to keep the pressure off Brycen (senior Sawyers, the leading scorer)," Wickline said. "We've shot the ball from outside pretty well the last few games."

In addition to Sawyers' roughly 20 points per game, Trent Roles and Cordell McClung have stepped up with some quality scoring for the Wildcats, according to Wickline. "We've had different guys get involved."

"Our schedule really helps us," he added. "I think we've got a chance; I really do, if we just don't turn the ball over."

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