Let the madness begin

Well, finally the madness of March has arrived.

Tuesday evening was a great setting inside the Rod Oldham Athletic Center to watch the Parkersburg South boys advance to next week’s Class AAA state tournament in Charleston after the Patriots knocked off Preston.

Tonight, I’ll be in Spencer to take in a Class AA boys regional contest between East Fairmont and Roane County where the winner also will head to Charleston as one of the final eight teams still playing.

Of course, if the senior-laden Raiders can pull off a victory it will mark school history as no boys team from Roane County ever has made the big dance.

Speaking of a team with loads of seniors, the women’s basketball squad at Glenville State College reached the field of 64 for the NCAA Division II tournament.

Eight players for the Pioneers will be facing the prospect of competing in their final game each time they step on the court for first-year head coach Charles Marshall.

The best news for GSC came with the announcement of the Atlantic Regional site being in Glenville.

That came about when Edinboro upended Gannon, 86-76, in the championship game of the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference tournament.

Going into tournament play, everything was in Gannon’s favor to act as the host for the regional and there wasn’t much Glenville State could do about it.

As it turned out, the Pioneers rolled through the inaugural Mountain East Conference tournament and then got the exact scenario they needed for the seniors to have the chance at playing in the friendly confines of the Jesse R. Lilly Gymnasium. It never hurts to have homecourt advantage.

Last year, GSC head coach Bunky Harkleroad’s team went 1-1 in regional action after advancing to the field of 64. The Pioneers came up short to California (Pa.) in the regional semifinal, 81-79, as GSC was denied a Sweet 16 berth and a chance to play for the regional crown at Gannon University.

I’ve always been fond of the Division II ranks since I’m an old Salem-Teikyo University graduate.

From personal experience as a radio color commentator on the Tigers during some of their great runs with current West Virginia University women’s head coach Mike Carey, there’s nothing better than a regional atmosphere in D-II. The only thing which tops that is if your team can win three straight games and advance to the Elite Eight and the national tournament, which Carey did once.

Starting at noon Friday the first of four games will tip at GSC – No. 3 Gannon versus No. 6 Shaw – and the Pioneers play host to No. 8 seed West Liberty in the third quarterfinal at 6 p.m. At 2:30 p.m., No. 2 Edinboro faces No. 7 Charleston and the late game pits No. 4 Bloomsburg against No. 5 Virginia State.

On Saturday, the first semifinal takes place at 5 p.m. and the regional title game is slated for 7 p.m. Monday.

It will be interesting to see how the Pioneers fare in the postseason.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com