Cumberland Times-News

Mike Mathews - Sports

March 14, 2009

Quick fix needed to reverse state tournament woes


There’s no arguing that the West Region, at least the West section of the West Region, wasn’t as strong as in years past.

In fact, boys basketball as a whole was down this year, and in a big way. Only five teams had winning records. One was Pendleton County, which surged late to get to 13-11.

Of Allegany’s first 25 games, only nine were against teams with a winning record: Bishop Walsh, Mountain Ridge, Keyser, Brunswick, and Williamsport.

Day by day, year after year, tons of youth basketball results are listed in the newspaper. There are plenty of players out there. But where do they go when they reach high school? Some high school teams, jayvee and varsity, barely had 10 players this year. A few had less than 10.

High school sports is one important branch offered as part of the educational process. The lessons taught include hard work, teamwork, unselfishness, and discipline.

Those are four traits that seem, at times, to be on the way out these days. That’s sad, because they are four traits that are timeless and the key building blocks to success in any venture.

A better idea?

West Virginia tweaked its playoff system this year. Losers in sectional championship games got second life, a basketball mulligan of sorts.

Sectional champs and runners-up played counterparts from another section. The winners of those games went to the state tournament.

Some sections are stronger than others, and this served as another filter in the process of trying to get the best teams to Charleston.

It’s a good idea. It would’ve been nice had Maryland had the same thing in the works, especially last spring in softball, with state champion Fort Hill, Mountain Ridge and Allegany all in the same region. They may have been three of the best four or five teams in the state in 1A, but only one got to the Final Four.

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Mike Mathews - Sports
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