With the new Mountain East Tournament formatting, the league's top four teams are given a first round 'bye' and head straight to Charleston for competition. A week ago, the Pioneers were ranked #5, and they were uncertain whether they could break into those top spots.
After falling to #1 West Liberty, the Pioneers had a week to watch the rest of the league beat one another up before facing WV Wesleyan in the regular season final.
On Thursday night, Wesleyan had made things interesting as they beat #2 Shepherd (who was tied with UC) dropping the Rams into a tie with the Bobcats for #3.
WVWC and Shepherd were one win ahead of the Pioneers who were tied for #5 with Fairmont.
On Saturday, the Pioneers traveled to Buckhannon to face the Bobcats while Fairmont welcomed the Rams. All four teams knew these games could have a huge effect on the conference standings entering tournament.
While this was in the back of their heads, for the Pioneers, the rematch with Wesleyan meant much more.
The two teams had faced off in Glenville on January 23. That game, which ended in a 78-87 loss, had a lasting effect on the Pioneer season, as senior Lamar Mallory was benched for four games due to an injury.
With Mallory healed and back up to par, the Pioneers wanted this win, on WVWC Senior Day, that much more.
The Bobcats took the lead early on their home court going up 5-0, but Reggie Williams and Kevin Gray answered with a
layup and three-pointer, respectively, to tie things up.
The first seven minutes were slow, as the two teams were still tied, 8-8, at the 13:30. Freshman Brett Morris put up a three-pointer at 13:04 to take the lead for the Pioneers, and they never looked back.
By halftime, the Pioneers had a solid, 34-21, 13 point lead.
They then opened up the second half with a 17-3 run. In fact, from Mallory's layup at 17:15 on, the Pioneers never led by less than 20 points.
The final score of, 78-58, was sweet revenge for the Pioneers.
Mallory led the Pioneers with a game-high 20 points. Also hitting double-digits for the Pioneers were: Donte Morales (17), Gray (14), and Morris (10).
While the win was big and would have guaranteed the Pioneers a 'bye' into the Quarterfinals of the MEC tournament, the day got even sweeter as the results of the Fairmont/Shepherd game were announced.
Fairmont had defeated the Rams. While Pioneer fans do not normally celebrate a Falcon win, the victory had moved the Pioneers into the #3 spot heading into the tournament.
They will meet the winner of Shepherd/Concord on Friday, March 7, at 2:15 p.m. at the Charleston Civic Center.
Good luck, Pioneers.
For the Lady Pioneers, their top spot in the Mountain East had been secured for several weeks. However, they had saw the result a loss could have late in the season after falling from #1 in the region to #2 last week following a loss to Wheeling Jesuit.
The Lady Pioneers were not going to take another loss this season.
Despite their determination, the GSC women looked like a different team early in the match-up with WVWC Lady Bobcats on Saturday, March 1.
In fact, for the first four minutes, neither team scored. Senior Kenyell Goodson broke the drought with a three-pointer at 15:43.
Wesleyan soon answered with a score of their own. The Lady Pioneers allowed the Lady Bobcats to keep it close just into the ten minute mark; at 8:49, the two teams were tied, 15-all.
It appeared as if the Lady Pioneers were so confident they had this game in the bag, seeing they had defeated WVWC by 50+ points in their first meeting, that they were not really playing.
Uncomfortable with the close score, the Lady Pioneers finally stepped it up. By halftime, they were up by nine, 40-31.
In the second half, they expanded the lead to as many as 21, and while they allowed the Bobcats to rally in the final minutes, they took the win, 88-80.
Goodson led with 17 points, while four teammates had double-digits.
The GCHS Lady Titans have had a very impressive season. With the start of their Sectional last week, the ladies were the Section's top seeded team,and they were #5 in the state.
Everything played out perfectly in their Semifinal match-up with Wirt last Tuesday, Feb. 25 as the Lady Titans put the Lady Tigers to sleep for the year with a, 69-53, victory.
The victory led the Lady Titans straight into Friday (Feb. 28) night's Sectional Championship against Williamstown.
The two teams had not met previously in the regular season, but everyone knew the #10 Lady Yellowjackets were a tough opponent.
From the beginning, it was obvious the game was going to be very evenly matched; at the end of the first quarter, a single basket separated the two teams, 13-15, as Williamstown held a slight lead.
In the second, the Lady Pioneers got hot from the perimeter. By intermission, they had takent the lead, 34-28.
Unfortunately, that slight deficit lit a fire under the Lady Yellowjackets . In the third quarter, the team from Williamstown was not only making their shots, but they were also playing physical defense.
Over those eight minutes, the Lady Titans were held to only five points while Williamstown scored 17.
The Lady Yellowjackets led by six entering the final quarter; the game was not over yet.
The Lady Titans took the court in front of their home crowd, and they played down to the final seconds.
Unfortunately, the ladies were defeated in the Sectional Championship game, 60-63.
The two teams had played very different styles throughout the evening as Williamstown played in tight under the basket while the Lady Titans showed their skill from three-point land. It was clear from the talent of these two teams, the contest could have went either way.
For the Lady Titans, Julie Bishop led the scoring attack with 22 points, including three, three-point buckets.
Sophomore Emilie Jedamski was also hot from behind the arch as she scored 12 points off four three-pointers. Mackenzie Huff added a trio of threes for nine points.
Kylie Shuff finished off the double-digit Lady Titans with 16 points.
Despite the loss, the Lady Titans are not finished for the season just yet.
On Wednesday, March 5, the Lady Titans will face Region IV, Section II Champs the ladies from St. Joseph Central in Huntington.
These two teams have not met this season, and St. Joseph is certain to be a tough opponent, as they are ranked a top the WVSSAC Single-A Rankings.
Good luck to the Lady Titans as they travel to Huntington this week - bring home an upset.