The inception of the four-class system introduced different teams to new sections and regions. It also minimized some sections.
The entire Class AA Region 3 field is an example.
Following the introduction of the new system old foes Wyoming East and Summers County were bumped back into the same section and joined by Bluefield, creating three-team sections on each side. For the second year in a row the three squads will duke it out with a home regional game on the line.
Wyoming East (12-3)
The Lady Warriors have secured the No. 1 seed in their section for the second year in a row and in a three-team section that means the defending state champions are automatically guaranteed a spot in Wednesday’s Section 2 championship game. Who they play remains to be seen, though past results indicate they’re fine with the outcome either way.
Since the inception of the new section last season, East is 7-0 against Bluefield and Summers County with the closest contest being a 52-37 win at Summers County early last season.
In total the Lady Warriors have won games against sectional opponents by an average of 32.8 points, leaving little doubt that they’re the favorites to defend their sectional crown and host a regional co-final. Still there are no guarantees. Wyoming East was the favorite to win its section in February of 2017 before Westside – a team the Lady Warriors had beaten by 30 and 18 points in two regular season meetings – upset them in the championship game.
It’s all the proof East head coach Angie Boninsegna needs to know nothing is a given. Fortunately for her Lady Warriors they’re on a six-game winning streak that began against Summers County on Jan. 27. Helping their hopes of a deep postseason run has been the return of first-team all-stater Abby Russell who has helped solidify the guard position and provide a scoring punch off the bench.
She’s scored in double figures in each of her last three games, pouring in 16 and 18 points in her last two outings.
Summers County (14-6)
Following the graduation of a pair of all-staters, Summers County coach Chad Meador has done a fine job coaching to his team’s strengths. That’s primarily included working the offense through post players Maggie Stover and Gracie Harvey and both have responded well.
Harvey has emerged as a perennial double-double threat with two of her best games coming against Class AAA PikeView, a team that’s looking to extend its state tournament streak to three. The Lady Bobcats also have a solid guard combination in Liv Meador and Sullivan Pivont who have bought into their roles and limited their turnovers, something they’ll need to do if they hope to win the sectional title.
Stover and Harvey will come into play immediately when the Bobcats host Bluefield on Saturday. They’ll be tasked with stopping Beavers big Beyonka Lee. they’ve excelled in that, holding her to 17 points across two head-to-head contests this season.
Provided they can do so – they’ve secured two double-digit wins over Bluefield this season – they’ll face a Wyoming East team that’s deployed a pressure defense that’s given the Bobcats fits. Summers has the size advantage in the matchup, but so much of the problem has been getting into the half court and avoiding turnovers. If Meador’s guards can protect the ball and control the pace of the game they’ll have a fighting chance.
Bluefield head coach Ernie Gilliard has preached patience for his young team and while they’ve made some improvements they’ve still struggled in the section.
Beyonka Lee anchors the post and has been the team’s most efficient scorer but faces a tall task in carrying her team past a Summers squad that’s equipped to slow her down with a pair of its own post players. That shifts responsibility to Cara Brown and Arionna Dowell. Brown has scored well against Summers, nabbing 10 points in each of the two games against the Lady Bobcats.
The pair will need to not only supplement Lee as a scorer but handle the different looks Chad Meador’s squad throws their way. They had a beat on in it when the two teams met on Dec. 28 when Bluefield was competitive in a 53-44 loss at Summers County.
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Region 3, Section 1 Schedule
Game 1: No. 3 Bluefield at No. 2 Summers County, Feb. 19 at 7 p.m.
Game 2: Winner of Game 1 at No. 1 Wyoming East on Feb. 23 at 7 p.m.