The VHSL Group A state quarterfinals tip off this weekend with games of regional interest at Virginia High and the Salem Civic Center. Everyone has something to prove.
All of the Region D participants’ games will take place on Saturday, save for the Honaker boys’ Division 2 quarterfinal clash with James River. The Tigers (12-13) will face the third-ranked Knights (25-2) at 5:15 p.m. on Friday at Salem.
This weekend’s only revenge-motivated rematch features Region D runner-up Appalachia (22-5) traveling to Salem to face Region C champ Eastern Montgomery (18-8) in the Division 1 boys quarterfinals at 12:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Mustangs ambushed the then-Region D champion Bulldogs last year, winning a 72-56 contest at Virginia High. Appalachia is paced by hyper-athletic guard Forrest Stuart and 6-foot-6 post Mladen Bogicevic. Shawn Christian and Julian Stewart fuel Eastern Montgomery.
At Virginia High, the Region D champion Castlewood boys face Galax (15-7) in a Division 1 quarterfinal clash at 3:15 p.m. at Virginia High. The Blue Devils (22-4) , who are led by Ruben Rasnick, Seth Justice and Zach Bush, lost 64-42 to eventual state champion Radford in last year’s Division 2 quarterfinals.
In the Division 1 girls draw, Region D champion J.I. Burton (26-0) will be challenged by Narrows (20-5) at Virginia High at 1:30 p.m.
Led by Ra’Shelle Miller, Sheniqua Woods, Brianna Stallard, Chelsea Forney, Iris Hill and a plentiful bench, the Lady Raiders entered postseason play as the top-ranked team in the Associated Press Group A poll.
Last year, Burton lost to eventual state runner-up Bland 48-32 in the quarterfinals at Salem. Narrows is making its second consecutive appearance in the state tournament, having beaten Council 52-36 in last year’s quarterfinals.
Bland (22-2) also returns to state tournament play, this time as the Region C champ. The Lady Bears will face Ervinton (23-4) at 11 a.m. in Salem. Led by Kelly Rasnick and Chelsea Hill, the Lady Rebels are vying for their first Final Four appearance. Bland is paced by Laurel Hankins, Samantha Magyar and Kirby Mustard.
In the Division 2 girls bracket, Region D champ J.J. Kelly (20-6) faces Chilhowie in a 4:45 p.m game at Virginia High. The Lady Indians, led by 6-foot-2 twin posts Allison and Ashley Mullins and guard Kaely Mullins, are pursuing the program’s first trip to the Final Four since winning it all in 2002.
Elsewhere in the Division 2 girls mix, Lee High (16-9) hopes to earn its second consecutive Final Four appearance when the Lady Generals take on Glenvar (19-7) in a 2:15 p.m. quarterfinal game at Salem. Paced by Makenzie Cluesman, Jalan McPherson, Chealsey Brock and Morgan Miles, Lee upset Region C champ Radford 61-50 in last year’s quarers at Salem.
In Division 2 boys action, Lebanon (19-5) will make its first state tournament appearance since its championship season in 1991 when the Pioneers face Radford (17-6) in a 6:30 p.m. game at Virginia High.
Lebanon is led by Jerome Cobb, Justin Brown and Ben Hendrickson. Jerome Alexander and D.J. Palmer pace the defending state champ Bobcats.