Nick Carroll Headshot

“In the playoffs, it's win or go home. You might not have a chance to look back at a game and say, ‘Man, we didn't box out here.’”

-Scottie Pippen, Chicago Bulls

Pippen has a point; it’s win or go home, except for high school hoops in Hot Rod Hundley’s home state. Technically in West Virginia, you can lose and stay alive, depending on WHEN you lose. Unlike any other tournament structure I’m familiar with, the WVSSAC basketball postseason is riddled with problems and confusion. It’s not single elimination and it’s not double elimination.  A section may have only 3 teams, and by default, 2 out of 3 (66%) will reach the regional championship game by simply lacing up their shoes. This tournament is ideal for those who clamor, “Everyone deserves a trophy.”

The state tournament features 8 teams, yet allows teams from the same region to face each other in the quarterfinals. Why?

According to the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activity Commission constitution, Section 10.9, in boys and girls basketball, the Board of Directors may structure the WVSSAC tournament series in each sport by classification (AAAA-AAA-AA-A). Each sport will be structured according to the level of interest and accommodation for tournament alignment.

Since level of interest is a factor, why seed teams from the same region against each other at states?  Everyone I have conversed with from Keyser to Cumberland, from Short Gap to Short Mountain, would prefer squaring off against teams from different regions.

When the Trojan girls beat Weir for the regional title, they received a plaque that stated “Regional Champs.” But wait, are they in fact “regional champs” when a team from the same region went undefeated and won a “regional championship” as well?

Why have 2 regional co-champs instead of 1 regional champ?

My head hurts just typing it.

I challenge you to explain the format verbally to anyone outside of this state who follows high school basketball.  Time to simplify the structure and increase the clarity of high school basketball in West Virginia.


Country Calendar dates

I reckon this portion of my column is probably more fit for my colleague’s award winning section, “New Kid in the Holler,” but the lifestyle of the mountains is still new to me.

When studying different cultures, comparison of annual rituals is a divisive factor. One prominent variable is the difference in celebration of annual holidays and the rhythmic calendar built into our customs.

My comprehension of southern culture below the Mason Dixon continues to expand, albeit slowly.

Last week, my iMac Air flew everywhere, as winter and spring sports seasons overlapped. At the college level, fall sports like football and soccer are being played.

I have reported:

·      High School: Track & field, tennis, baseball, softball, boys basketball, girls basketball, wrestling, swimming and cheer

·      Middle School: Track & field, boys basketball and girls basketball

·      College: Track & Field, baseball and girls soccer

Let’s just say, the seasonal rhythms are out of whack, and I need the sports calendar to shift back.  Fall leaves and football. Icicles and basketball. Spring flowers and softball.

My personal calendar is dictated by sports schedules. While sports set my appointments daily, there are many cultural calendars folks live by.

I was feverishly typing a basketball game recap and hit a hurdle mid-sentence. What day is today?

I paused and quickly asked the Romney resident besides me.

“What day is it?”

“It’s turkey day!”

My eyes squinted trying to decipherer the riddle. I paused then clarified my inquiry.

“I mean, what is the date today?”

“It's the start of turkey hunting season!” she blurted in excitement.

My face glazed with blank confusion.

I tried to save face and confirm my mountain roots.

“You mean Ramp season.” (Steering the conversation to familiar territory.)

“And morels too.”

Although I still didn’t have my answer, I officially established my mountain know-how as I tossed one of those seasonal conversations on the calendar of country livin’.

I collected my thoughts and thoroughly described the pair of digits I sought with a tailored strategy.

“But what’s the numeric day turkey hunting season started?” I questioned.

“Today; Monday.”

I grabbed my phone and asked Siri.

The year seasons and years changed

Seasons = Years

A simple mathematical equation used interchangeably when scribing the careers of players and coaches.

For example, in 2019 Hampshire baseball coach Chad Vanmeter entered his 12th season as head coach. It was also his 12th year in the role.

In my opinion, the defining line of a season is whether a regular season game gets started.  So after 1 pitch, technically the season gets credit.

However, in 2020, softball and baseball never saw the 1st pitch of the season.

This has altered how we keep track of records.

In 2021 Coach Vanmeter will have spent 15 years as head coach with 14 seasons under his belt.

Y = S+1, Years = Seasons + 1 

Finally, a Covid math equation that is simple to understand, with numbers you can actually believe.

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