Friday, January 20, 2017

Basketball Playoff Picture

The Webster County Highlander basketball team's path in the playoffs will not be easy but their performance against their sectional foes thus far show they are capable of a trip to the State Tournament in Charleston (all teams compete in the playoffs regardless of their regular season records).

The Highlanders are in Class A, Region III, Section 1, which includes these teams: Charleston Catholic, Fayetteville, Midland Trail, Pocahontas County, Richwood, and Valley Fayette.  Webster has beaten Midland Trail, Richwood, and Valley Fayette.  They had a close home game against Charleston Catholic but lost and played well for at least a half against Fayetteville before losing to them on their court.  Pocahontas County is not on their regular season schedule.

If the Highlanders win their section, they would play the loser of the Region III, Section 2 team, which includes Greater Beckley Christian, Greenbrier West, Meadow Bridge, Montcalm, Mount View, and Summers County.  Webster has Greenbrier West and Summers County on their regular season schedule in February.  If the Highlanders make it to the sectional championship but lose, they would face the winner in Section 2.  

As of now, none of the Section 2 teams have better than a .500 record.  Clearly, Section 1 in which Webster will compete in the playoffs is the tougher section so far this season.  Barring an upset, it is highly likely that the two teams from Region 3 that will advance to Charleston will come from Section 1.  Webster needs to get its act together now to have a good playoff seeding and at least one home playoff game.  Otherwise, the road to Charleston will be tough.

Since there are 7 teams in Webster's Region III, Section 1, this is one possibility of how that section would play out to be the section champion (teams would be seeded from 1-best to 7-worst):
--winner of teams 6 and 7 would play to face team 1
--winner of teams 2 and 5 would play to face winner of teams 3 and 4
--winner of teams 3 and 4 would play to face winner of teams 2 and 5
--whoever emerges as the winner from the 2, 3, 4, or 5 teams would then face team 1 for the sectional championship
--under this scenario, all teams other than team 1 would have to win 3 games to be the sectional champ; team 1 would only have to win 2 games to be the sectional champ
--the WVSSAC has yet to release the actual playoff scenario for Region III

Fayetteville is certainly making the case to be the number 1 seed in this section, with Charleston Catholic and Pocahontas County battling for the second spot.  Webster at this point appears to be at 4, with Valley Fayette, Richwood, and Midland Trail contesting for the bottom.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Highlanders Drop Fifth Straight

After playing a decent first half of basketball, the Webster County Highlanders boys' team fell behind by as many as 18 points in the second half and lost 69 to 59 to the host Gilmer County Titans on Thursday.

This loss is the fifth straight for Webster, evening their season record at 6 wins, 6 losses.  They next play at home on Tuesday, January 24, against Calhoun County, a team they easily beat in Grantsville earlier this season.

Webster trailed 15 to 14 at the end of the first quarter, and 30 to 27 at halftime, giving fans hope they could stay in the game.  The third quarter was, frankly, a disaster for the Highlanders as Gilmer went on a 20 to 6 run to blow the game open.

If there was one bright spot for the team, it was again the play of Billy Wilson.  While he had by no means a perfect game, he appeared to be the only player willing to take a charge while playing defense.  This is not intended to be critical of the other players, but is noted for the point that good defense requires players to take charges rather than let the other players run to the hoop unabated.  

Seems like these three have been at recent Webster games.
Wilson forced three charges against Gilmer, and could easily have tallied two more but for questionable officiating.  In addition, on one of his three point shots, all three blind mice (i.e., the referees) were looking at whether the ball went in the hoop, rather than seeing the Gilmer player flatten Wilson to the floor after the ball left Wilson's hands.  Like the fans, the Webster coaching staff was in disbelief at the non-call.  

On a positive note, the Webster JV team remained unbeaten this season in a convincing win over the Gilmer JV team.  JV coach Eddie Mazzella has the team playing what looks like a successful version of WVU's "Press Virginia" on defense, leading to countless turnovers by the opposing teams.  In addition, the JV team runs a fast paced offense with almost all players looking for the assist rather than the points.  This formula has produced a perfect record thus far and there is no reason it should not continue.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Slip Sliding Away in the Polls

After losing their last four games, the Webster County Highlanders' boys basketball has predictably fallen out of the Associated Press's top ten poll and they have slipped to 16th place out of 51 Class A teams in the power ratings.  The recent tough schedule for the Highlanders have kept them in the upper third of the power ratings despite their four game skid.  This Thursday evening, they travel to face the 6th power ranked Gilmer County Titans.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Dalton Gray Reaches 1000 Points in Highlander Loss

#12 Dalton Gray reached the 1,000 point plateau in his Highlander career.
Senior Dalton Gray reached the 1,000 point record tonight at home as the Webster County Highlanders' boys basketball team dropped their fourth straight game in a thrilling match with the ninth ranked Class A Charleston Catholic Irish by a score of 66 to 63.

Gray becomes only the fourth player in the 40 plus year history of the high school to score 1,000 or more points.  Gray made a layup with less than 10 seconds remaining as the Highlanders were battling back against the Irish to record his 1000th point.

Webster played brilliantly in the first two quarters, taking a 32-29 lead into halftime.  Thanks to a very poor call by a referee as time expired at the end of the third quarter, the teams were tied at 48 at the end of three quarters.  Well beyond the three point circle, Hayden Williams was playing defense and remained stationary as time was about to expire.  An Irish player then purposely jumped a few feet into Hayden as the Irish player shot the ball.  At best, time should have expired with no call, and upon further review, a charging foul should have been levied against the Irish player.  Instead, the referee made an ill-advised call against Webster, allowing the Irish player to sink 2 of 3 free throw attempts to tie the game at 48.

The Highlanders finally surrendered the lead in the fourth quarter, but kept the game close right to the end.  Billy Wilson started for the first time this season and proved his worth on defense by taking at least two charges, and scored 6 points on offense.  Based on tonight's performance against a very tough Irish team, Wilson should continue to see significant playing time.  Others scoring for Webster included:  D. Gray, 13; Tyler Gray, 5; Chase Rose, 9; Dorian Groggs, 17; Bradin Miller, 9; and Hayden Williams, 4.

Groggs was named for the all tournament team after the game.

With the loss, Webster's record now stands at six wins, five losses.  They next play Thursday evening at Gilmer County.
Parker Stout (right) and Jay Stiltner broadcast the Highlander games
The Webster team posed for photos after the game, joining Dorian Groggs, who
was awarded a plaque for being named on the all tournament team.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Skid Continues for Highlanders

The Webster boy's team dropped their third straight game, losing today to host Roane County 55 to 54.  Their record now stands at 6 wins, 4 losses.

It appears that poor shooting and single digit assists sank the Highlanders.  They made only 18 of 60 shots, including only 5 of 19 from 3 point range.  As a team, they registered a low 8 assists.

Webster jumped out to a 19 to 9 first quarter lead, only to be outscored 17 to 6 in the second quarter, to trail at the half 26 to 25.  Webster outscored Roane by 2 in the third quarter, and Roane outscored Webster by 2 in the final stanza for the 1 point Roane win.

Webster players who scored points included:  Hayden Williams, 15; Dalton Gray, 12; Bradin Miller, 11; Dorian Groggs, 10; Billy Wilson, 4; and Mathias Palmer, 2.

On Monday at 7:00 p.m., the Highlanders host the always tough Charleston Catholic Irish.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Two in a Row: Losses That Is

After reeling off six straight wins and cracking the top 10 in the Associated Press poll, the Highlanders' boys basketball team has now dropped to six wins, three losses on the season after a home loss to the Doddridge County Bulldogs by a final score of 75 to 62 on Thursday evening.

This was the second loss in a row for the Highlanders after being ranked tenth in Class A.  The scrappy Bulldogs have beaten Webster both at home and away this season.  

Webster next plays at Roane County on Saturday at 3:00 p.m. (varsity).

Next Monday, Webster County hosts the Martin Luther King Day showcase, featuring four games beginning at 1:00 p.m., followed by the 7:00 p.m. nightcap involving the Charleston Catholic Irish and the Highlanders.  The 1:00 p.m. game involves Greater Beckley Christian against Buffalo, followed at 3:00 p.m. with Wirt County and Midland Trail, and a 5:00 p.m. tilt involving Pocahontas County and Fayetteville.

The Webster boy's JV team remain undefeated with their ninth win last night.  They defeated the Doddridge JV's by 10 points.  Including this year's record, over the past three seasons, the JV team under coach Eddie Mazzella sports an impressive 34 win, 4 loss record.  Few coaches and teams have posted such an accomplishment.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Former Coach Banned from Future Games

Former Webster County Highlander head basketball coach Steven Nutter is banned from attending any future Highlander games because he has attended only two of the team's eight games this year, and, you guessed it, Webster lost both times.

Nutter has seen the Highlanders lose their opener to Doddridge County and was in attendance at this evening's loss at Fayetteville.  A large throng of Webster fans saw to it that Nutter enjoyed an early exit from this evening's game.