The path to an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference girls’ basketball championship is set.
The brackets for the 14th annual Wheeling Hospital OVAC Girls Basketball Championship were finalized Tuesday afternoon, with the top four teams in each class earning the right to the semifinals, scheduled for Monday in the higher-seeded court.
It is the first time since 2020 that the OVAC will crown its champions on the field. Last season went through the paper champion due to the drastic differences in the Ohio and West Virginia calendars due to COVID-19.
For the first time in the event’s history, the championship games will not be held at Ohio University Eastern. Both the girls’ and boys’ championships will be held at Harrison Central High School, with the girls’ title games on February 5.
Those schools that did not qualify for the championship were assigned their games by the OVAC Basketball Committee.
Here’s a look at the matchups:
Wheeling Park deserved – thanks to a 14-2 record – the best seed. The Patriots won the title last season, their 14th in their history.
Morgantown, which handed Park one of the two losses, is the second seed. The Mohigans are 12-2 on the season.
Warren Local – a relative newcomer to the OVAC – is the third seed with an 11-5 record. The Warriors visit Morgantown for the semifinals.
John Marshall, who is 8-7, took last place and will travel to Wheeling to face the Patriots. The Monarchs have already lost two previous encounters with Park this winter.
Union Local was the wire-to-wire leader in the standings for this class. Coach Scooter Tolzda’s team is currently 14-3 and at one point was on a 12-game winning streak.
The Jets are the reigning class champions, but were defeated by Fort Frye in the 3A title game in 2020.
Oak Glen is 7-5 and took the second seed. The Golden Bears have not won an OVAC girls’ basketball title since 2001.
St. Clairsville, which hasn’t won a girls title since 2007, heads to Newell, W.Va, to take on Oak Glen. The Red Devils are 8-7 on the season.
Harrison Central, who owns two girls’ OVAC titles in this format, took fourth place against the aforementioned Jets. The two teams met in the Buckeye 8 title last Saturday, with Union Local taking a 65-13 win.
Defending champion Linsly has earned the top seed with an impressive record of 16-2. Prior to winning the conference title last spring when they went undefeated, the Cadets only won one conference title and that came in 2014.
The Cadets’ two losses were both at second-placed Fort Frye. The Beverly-based Cadets are 13-3 and own 10 conference titles in girls’ hoops.
Bellaire, which was one of the surprising teams in the region with a relatively young squad, took third place thanks to a 12-5 record. The Big Reds won the 2019 on the field and own a total of eight titles.
Martins Ferry, who won the 4A title in 2020, battled through a difficult mid-season to finish 10-7. The Purple Riders fended River by 1.5 points in the average column to earn the final berth and right to visit Linsly.
A new champion is guaranteed as Shadyside failed to qualify. Steubenville Catholic has quietly put together a strong 12-3 record to earn the best seed.
The Crusaders have not claimed a conference title since 1989.
Monroe Central, which has not won a title since 2009, is the second seed. The Seminoles are 14-4.
Woodsfield visits the third seeded Frontier, who owns a 12-6 mark. The Cougars have already lost to the Seminoles twice.
Southern Local, which has never won a girls basketball title in his short time in the OVAC, qualified fourth seed with a solid 14-3 record.
Defending champion Cameron took the best seed based on an 11-2 record. The Dragons have won one title on the pitch and that came in 2018.
Beallsville, which won the last two small school crowns on the floor, is the second seed. The Blue Devils, who own eight titles in their history, currently have a score of 12-5.
Trinity Christian will make the foray into Monroe County on Monday after earning the third seed. The Warriors are 7-4 on the season. Their only conference title came in 2012.
Hundred earned the right to visit Cameron as the fourth seed. The Hornets are 6-4 looking for their first OVAC title in girls basketball.