Two Fayette County Class A boys teams stand within reach of the 2011 state basketball tournament.
But they must first take care of business tonight in Region 3 co-finals.
Beginning at 7 p.m. at Hico, Class A No. 5 Midland Trail (17-3) will tangle with Greater Beckley Christian (7-15), while Meadow Bridge (16-5) will face Richwood (14-8) at the same time at Shady Spring Middle School.
Midland Trail coach Greg Crist says his team will be facing a Greater Beckley Christian squad which is better than it was earlier in the campaign.
“I think they’re much improved from earlier in the season,” said Crist, whose Patriots faced the Crusaders in a preseason scrimmage. Crist said a new addition to the roster has given the Crusaders a boost offensively. “They run their offense very efficiently, and they can score. Plus, they put pressure on you defensively.”
The Patriots will field a starting lineup that includes Jordan Burdette (14.8 points per game, 25 3-pointers), Casey Kessler (14.2 points, 6.3 rebounds), Kelly Minter (12.2 points, 8.7 rebounds), Casey Deskins (10.6 points, 7.0 rebounds) and Ryan Whitlock (2.9 points). Top reserves include Sidney Crist (3.0 points), Jake Howell (2.0 points) and Jake Grimmett (1.2 points).
Meanwhile, first-year Meadow Bridge coach Mark Gladwell says his Wildcats are coming off a good season but don’t want to stop now.
“We’re happy to be 16-5, to win the sectional and win 16 ball games,” he said. “But we don’t want that to be the cap to the season.
“I told the players we’ve won a bunch of sectionals but only three regionals.”
To be one of the two region representatives in the eight-team state field, Meadow Bridge will have to get by Richwood, a team with which it split in the regular season.
“The guys understand the challenge; we know each other real well,” Gladwell said of the Lumberjacks. “Defending Richwood (is a chore). They have so many good shooters, and it’s critical we contest shots.
“(Emmet) Rogers is hard to guard, (Cody) Smallwood and (Charles) Bard can really shoot, (Zach) Bennett’s a heck of an athlete, and (Codey) Horton really makes a difference for them.”
The ‘Cats will likely start Chris Gray at center, Cody White at power forward, and Tyler Bennett, Logan Pomeroy and Tyler Vandall at the guards. Cole Porter and Riggie Redden are among the key reserves.