Class AAA boys state preview: Martinsburg out to finish the job this time around

By Greg Carey

CHARLESTON — The last time Martinsburg’s boys basketball team suffered a loss was back on March 17, 2018, when the Bulldogs were handled by George Washington in the Class AAA title game.

All the Bulldogs have done since is win all 25 of their games thus far this season, allowing them to enter the state tournament as the top seed.

Martinsburg’s quest for its first state championship since 2013 begins Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. against No. 8 Parkersburg South (8-16).

The Bulldogs have yet to allow more than 57 points in any game and only four of their contests have been decided by single digits.

“We have a philosophy this year that offense will take care of itself and we want to do the other things,” Martinsburg coach Dave Rogers said.

Martinsburg prides itself on being balanced offensively and has four players scoring in double figures, while seven average at least five points.

The Patriots have had more than their fair share of close losses, but pulled out a 53-50 victory in their regional co-final at Spring Valley to become the only team in this year’s AAA state tournament field with a losing record.

“They’re all about the same size and they can shoot the basketball,” Rogers said of PSHS. “We have to make sure we can control what they do.”

Also Wednesday, No. 2 University (21-4) takes on No. 7 Musselman (15-9) in the AAA opener at 11:15 a.m.

The Hawks came to the state tournament as the top seed a year ago and fell to Martinsburg in a semifinal.

The AAA quarterfinal schedule for Thursday includes No. 4 Capital vs. No. 5 Morgantown, 11:15 a.m.; and No. 3 George Washington vs. No. 6 Cabell Midland, 7:15 p.m.

The Cougars (20-5) and Mohigans (16-9) both appear to be playing close to, if not their best basketball of the season at the right time.

G.W. (20-5) had to work hard to qualify for states, winning 74-72 at Woodrow Wilson in a regional co-final to give itself an opportunity to repeat.

The Patriots are playing without guard Mason Pinkett, who was hurt earlier this season and returned to play, but has since suffered a torn ACL.

Pinkett, a sophomore, was averaging 15 points before being ruled out for the season. Fortunately for the Patriots, they still have one of the state’s top scorers in guard Bunky Brown, a senior pouring in 26 points on average. The Patriots needed every one of Brown’s 31 points in the recent two-point win against Beckley.

“He takes care of a multitude of my problems and my mess-ups. He’s a great kid and has great temperament,” GW coach Rick Greene said.

Cabell Midland (18-7) is led by freshman Chandler Schmidt, who’s averaging 18.3 points.

The Knights edged Parkersburg, 42-40, in a regional co-final to qualify for states for the first time since 2002.

“I think a lot of people are surprised that we are back here,” second-year C.M. coach Rick Chaffin said. “When I took the job, most people told me it’d take four, five or six years to get the program back up.”

Cabell Midland also eliminated Hurricane in its postseason opener and the Knights’ three playoff games have been decided by a total of 10 points, including a two-point loss to Spring Valley in the sectional title game.

G.W. won at Cabell Midland, 76-68, back on Jan. 25. Of the four AAA quarterfinals, that’s the only matchup that was played previously this season.

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