By Steve Keenan
The West Virginia Hometown Invitational Tournament has invited the girls to join in the fun, and 22 basketball teams statewide will begin play in the inaugural WVHIT girls division this Saturday, Jan. 12.
Among the local games Saturday are Richwood at Fayetteville at about 7:30 p.m. and Montcalm at Meadow Bridge at 2 p.m. Midland Trail will hit the road to play Sherman Saturday night.
According to information supplied by Tygarts Valley girls coach Mike DiPasquale, the girls tournament will follow the same guidelines and by-laws set forth by the boys teams when they initiated the WVHIT three years ago.
The initial girls tournament will conclude Friday and Saturday, Feb. 1 and 2 at South Harrison High School in Lost Creek.
The tourney will be split into two divisions. Division 1 will consist of 12 schools while Division 2 will consist of 10.
Each division will be divided into two regions, a north and a south. Schools will compete in their respective divisions over two weekends to crown a regional champion, which will then play its opposite champion at South Harrison on the final weekend.
Rankings are determined by a vote in a similar fashion to the WVSSAC state tournament. First-round games will be held in the gyms of the higher-seeded schools. Consolation-round games are hosted by a predetermined method voted on by the Girls WVHIT Committee.
Member schools are as follows: Division 1 — North: Cameron, Clay-Battelle, South Harrison, St. Marys (top seed), Tygarts Valley and Williamstown; and South — Fayetteville (top seed), Gilmer County, Man, Midland Trail, Richwood and Sherman; and Division 2 — North: Harman, Hundred, Paden City (top seed), Union and Valley (Wetzel); and South — Buffalo (top seed), Hannan, Meadow Bridge, Montcalm and Van.
“I like the concept of the public schools declaring themselves a public schools champion,” said Fayetteville coach John Mark Kincaid. “I’m not saying that with malice, but we’re not on a level playing field (with private schools).
“I’m not a big fan of having two divisions, though.”
Meadow Bridge coach Steve Taylor said, “We think it’s a good tournament, a chance to play some different public schools around the state, at least after the first week. We want to make some noise in it.”
“I’m really excited to see how everything shakes out,” said DiPasquale, whose squad faces St. Marys Saturday.
“With it being the first year for the girls, our girls are extremely excited to participate,” said Paden City coach Lorne Sine, whose team hosts Union Saturday. “I can see this tournament growing.”
At least two other schools — Valley and Doddridge — have indicated an interest in playing in next year’s tournament, DiPasquale said.
The third annual boys WVHIT will start later this month and conclude Feb. 8 and 9 in Summersville.