Sidelines: A look at area prep basketball teams
With Christmas less than a week away, high school basketball teams in the area will be getting a little break before watching its seasons kick into high gear once January rolls around.
While the girls are in the middle of their fourth week of the season and the boys are in their third, it appears that several area teams have the chance to be really good while others have some work to do.
Once again it appears that the Fort Frye Lady Cadets and the Waterford Lady Wildcats will be threats to advance deep into tournament play.
The Cadets dropped their season opener to the defending West Virginia State Champion Parkersburg South Lady Patriots but have rebounded nicely to reel off four consecutive victories, barely being challenged at all by their competition in the Pioneer Valley Conference.
Dan Liedtke’s team may well face its biggest test of the season when it travels to Frontier tonight to take on Scott Murphy’s upstart Lady Cougars.
The Lady Cougars also dropped their season opener to River but has not been beaten since including last week’s dramatic last minute revenge win over the Pilots.
Jerry Close’s Lady Wildcats are perfect through the their first five games and look to be building up a full head of steam as they look to capture yet another sectional championship in February.
Marietta is off to a solid start as well as the Lady Tigers sit 4-2 six games into Mark Hannuksela’s return as head coach, while the Warren Lady Warriors are still searching to hit their stride early on but definitely capable of putting together a big second half run.
The Belpre Lady Golden Eagles started the season with six wins in a row before running into a buzz saw when they were beaten soundly by their Tri Valley Conference rival Eastern Eagles last week.
Lynn Miley Werry’s Lady Zeps of Shenandoah and the Caldwell Lady Redskins of Ashley Dailey have both really struggled in the early going.
On the boys’ side, the battle for the PVC title looks to be a three team race between Fort Frye, Monroe Central, and Caldwell.
The Cadets looked invincible in their early conference games and gave Warren a battle for two and half quarters Saturday night before succumbing to last year’s final four team.
Both the Redskins and the Seminoles seem to be carrying the momentum their football teams built in the fall into the winter as Caldwell has won six out of their first seven, while the run and gun Noles of Scooter Tolzda will host the Cadets Friday night with the PVC lead on the line.
Many were surprised when Warren lost to Portsmouth at home early on but the Warriors seemed to find their groove in the second half against Fort Frye led by the terrific trio of Evan French, Reece Patton, and Michael Hall.
The Warriors have a very tough schedule ahead of them as they try to prepare themselves for the level of competition they hope to play in the postseason.
The team with the most surprising start may be the Waterford Wildcats as Tom Simms’ team has tasted victory in each of their five games to open the season.
Mark Duckworth’s Marietta Tigers grabbed a pair of early wins but have struggled to put points on the board the past few weeks in conference play.
The orange and black will be a tough match for most of the teams it comes up against thanks to the strong post play of Braden Riley and Jon Wood.
Belpre got off to a slow start but the Eagles are starting to show some signs of life while the Shenandoah Zeps jumped out to a 2-0 start but have struggled since.
One team to keep an eye on after the break may well be the Frontier Cougars.
Despite dropping its first three games of the season, Roger Kirkpatrick’s squad is very capable of challenging their Pioneer Valley Conference rivals and coming away with a win on any given night.
The season is still very young and things can certainly change in a hurry but don’t be surprised if several of our local teams end up making a strong showing in the playoffs.
Mike Morrison is a part-time sports writer for The Marietta Times