It was a big night in Mansfield on Tuesday night as Charleston’s southern swing through the conference continued from its Friday night games at Waldron to Tuesday night’s battle of the Tigers at Mansfield. It was senior night in Mansfield, and the Charleston girls, who had clinched a share of the conference title Friday night were out to clinch the outright title and the top seed in next week’s district tournament. The Charleston boys were playing to keep pace with Waldron following their loss last Friday at Waldron. By the end of the night, both Charleston teams won, clinching the girls title, and for the boys, moving back into sole possession of first place following a win at Mansfield and a loss by Waldron at Elkins on the same night.
Both games resulted in lopsided wins for Charleston as the Lady Tigers defeated Mansfield 57-28 and the Charleston boys defeated Mansfield 64-41.
For the Lady Tigers, Charleston improved its overall record to 22-2 and its conference record to a perfect 13-0. With one game remaining Friday night at Elkins, Charleston has the opportunity to complete a perfect conference record for the 2019-20 season. It will enter the senior high district tournament next week in Waldron as the number one seed.
The Charleston Tigers win over Mansfield moves Charleston into sole possession of first place in the conference. With the win over Mansfield, Charleston’s record improves to 14-9 overall, and 11-1 in conference play. Charleston has a make-up game today at West Fork that is critical to the Tigers maintaining their lead before Friday’s trip to Elkins to play another important conference match-up. Today’s game and Friday’s games will determine the conference champion, and will settle the order of the top seeds between Charleston, Waldron and Elkins going into next week’s senior district tournament.
Waldron, who played an inspired game at home last Friday night and defeated the Tigers to move into first place, dropped a game Tuesday night at Elkins, 54-49. The Bulldogs’ run as the conference leader was short-lived as the loss dropped the Bulldogs to third place in the conference standings as of publication time of this story. According to Max Preps, the boys conference standings are:
Charleston has played one less conference game to date due to the cancellation of their game in January due to severe weather in West Fork. That game will be made-up tonight in West Fork at 6 p.m.
Friday night, Charleston travels to Elkins for a must-win game for both teams. Waldron will finish the season Friday night with a home game versus Greenland. The Bulldogs need both Charleston and Elkins to lose on Friday. If Charleston were to lose tonight, it would throw yet another curve to the possible outcomes in a race that has been like a roller coaster over the past ten days. Besides wanting to win a conference championship, the final order of finish is very important to all three teams as they look at seeding in the conference tournament and the resulting pathways to the regional tournament.
For the Charleston girls, the scenario is much clearer. The Lady Tigers have a two game lead with one game to be played, and they have clinched the outright championship and top seed in the district tournament. Elkins lost a close game to Charleston earlier in the season at Tiger Center, and for a meaningless game in the standings, the game at Elkins has the potential to be a very good game. Coaching decisions for both teams may come into play as both schools have to consider what remains at stake in the regular season, keeping teams in their routine and playing rhythms going into post-season play, and of course, reducing the possibility of injuries late in the season. The Lady Tigers have had an epic season, and this team has a legitimate shot to win it all in Hot Springs on March 13. But before that can happen, they have to avoid the lapses in energy and focus that the team appeared to have in Waldron last Friday. The Lady Tigers, although wining by double digits, did not look their best, and from this point forward, they will have to be in top form to realize their goal of a state championship. But the talent, depth, and experience of this team makes them a good bet to be in contention for a state title deep into the state tournament.
The district tournament will begin next week in Waldron, and the regional tournament will be held the following week, also in Waldron. The first rounds of the state tournament will be held at Tiger Center in Charleston with the Class 3A final being held in Hot Springs. The locations of the regional and state tournaments will be a definite advantage to all of the conference schools; especially to Waldron and Charleston. So, the stage is set for a great post-season setting to end what has been a memorable 2019-20 high school basketball season.
Stay with Resident Press for complete coverage all the way through the crowning of a new girls and boys Class 3A state champion in Hot Springs!