PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — It won’t be any easier this time around, but the gauntlet isn’t nearly as impossible as it was previously.
Point Pleasant is returning to the triple-A level, while both Wahama and Hannan remained in Class A as the West Virginia Secondary Schools Athletic Commission released the 2020-21 divisional breakdown for boys and girls basketball on Friday afternoon.
Point Pleasant competed as a Class AAA program from the fall of 2012 through the spring of 2016 before moving back to double-A the past four years, but the Big Blacks and Lady Knights are once again moving up to the triple-A level for hoops this winter.
PPHS was the only Mason County program affected by the state’s new four-tier divisional system, one that is meant to bring more of a competitive balance to the four participating divisions.
There are 29 teams apiece in the upper three divisions, with Class AAAA serving as the big-school division. Both Wahama and Hannan are part of the 38-team Class A field for small enrollment schools.
Point Pleasant’s return to the triple-A ranks won’t be as rough as it was four years ago, mainly because most of the programs with double the enrollment of PPHS are now in the quadruple-A division.
Nonetheless, the Big Blacks and Lady Knights will still have plenty of stiff competition waiting for them in the triple-A field. It’s just that the enrollment numbers of the opposition are bit more favorable this time around.
And, in all fairness, most of the new triple-A programs are teams that were already playing PPHS in Class AA last winter.
The new divisional breakdown provides a unique challenge and opportunity, one that Point boys basketball coach Josh Williams believes that his program will be ready for.
“We’ve been here before. We will see a lot of the same opponents we played in double-A. We’ve been trying to shuffle the upcoming schedule some due to the change in sectional opponents, but we are excited for the new challenges and opportunities,” said Williams, who completed his eighth season in charge last winter. “We didn’t quite end up where we wanted to be last season, but for the third straight year we increased our win totals. We are hoping to build on that with some veterans returning and a mixture of upcoming players to contribute as we want to continue that trend.
“Everyone is chomping at the bit to get back to work now that we know what we have to do. We’re really excited about being back at triple-A, but it also means we have a lot of work to do moving forward.”
Point Pleasant girls basketball coach John Fields — who also completed his eighth season in charge last winter — shares a lot of the same sentiments as Williams in regards to the move up to Class AAA.
“From a competition stand point, the new divisional layout seems fair,” Fields said. “We have played a lot of the new triple-A schools at the double-A level the last few years and we are still aiming to compete with those programs, so not much really changes from that aspect.
“Now, the divisional changes may affect future scheduling, meaning we may not play as many out of state teams. But overall, I think we’re in a good situation being in this triple-A.”
With the exception of Poca, which remained at Class AA in the new classification, the remaining members of the double-A Region IV, Section 1 tournament made the jump to the triple-A level.
Though Wahama and Hannan were not affected by the new classifications directly, the White Falcons and Lady Falcons are looking at a little bit more of an uphill battle as they enter the Little Kanawha Conference this school year.
As members of the LKC West Division, Wahama will be facing the likes of Ravenswood, Ritchie County, St. Marys, Tyler Consolidated, Williamstown, Parkersburg Catholic and Wirt County in regular season play.
Tyler Consolidated and Wahama are the only two Class A programs in that double-A dominant eight-team field.
The LKC East Division has Doddridge County, Gilmer County, Calhoun County and Webster County as single-A programs, while Roane County, Braxton County and Clay County made the leap to double-A.
Below is a complete list of all of the schools by new divisional assignment.
Morgantown, Musselman, Cabell Midland, Parkersburg, Jefferson, Huntington, Martinsburg, Parkersburg South, Wheeling Park, Spring Mills, Washington, Hedgesville, University, Hurricane, Woodrow Wilson, George Washington, Capital, Riverside, Preston, Saint Albans, John Marshall, Oak Hill, South Charleston, Buckhannon Upshur, Spring Valley, Greenbrier East, Bridgeport, Princeton, Brooke.
Winfield, Fairmont Senior, Ripley, Nitro, Hampshire, Lincoln County, Shady Spring, Herbert Hoover, Robert C. Byrd, East Fairmont, North Marion, Grafton, Elkins, Berkeley Springs, Weir, Point Pleasant, Keyser, Lewis County, Sissonville, Scott, Pikeview, Wayne, Lincoln, Logan, Nicholas County, Oak Glen, Independence, Phillip Barbour, Liberty (Harrison).
Wheeling Central, Charleston Catholic, Chapmanville, Frankfort, Roane County, Williamstown, Liberty (Raleigh), Poca, Bluefield, Westside, Mingo Central, Moorefield, Braxton County, Notre Dame, Magnolia, Wyoming East, Buffalo, South Harrison, Ravenswood, Petersburg, Clay County, St. Mary’s, Ritchie County, Midland Trail, Wirt County, Summers County, Trinity, Huntington St. Joseph, Parkersburg Catholic.
Sherman, Greater Beckley, Doddridge County, James Monroe, Madonna, Tyler Consolidated, Tolsia, Pendleton County, Clay-Battelle, Greenbrier West, Man, West Virginia School for the Deaf, Mount View, West Virginia School for the Blind, Richwood, Tucker County, Wahama, River View, Cameron, Gilmer County, East Hardy, Tug Valley, Calhoun County, Montcalm, Tygarts Valley, Wood County Christian, Hannan, Webster County, Paden City, Meadow Bridge, Valley, Van, Pocahontas County, Hundred, Paw Paw, Union Educational Complex, Harman, Pickens.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.