HAMBLETON - After playing three highly-competitive games during the season, Tucker County and Notre Dame will take their rivalry to the Charleston Civic Center.
The sectional foes will clash at 1 p.m. Thursday in quarterfinal action of the Class A state tournament.
"Every game we've played with them this year was competitive." Mountain Lions coach Tom Gutshall said.
The Inter-Mountain file photos
Tucker County’s Ian Nichols encourages his teammates during the sectional title game against Notre Dame on March 6. Nichols, a senior forward, will lead the Mountain Lions against the Irish at 1 p.m. Thursday in Class A quarterfinal action at the Charleston Civic Center.
Notre Dame’s Jarrod West pulls down a rebound against Tucker County during the sectional championship game at Elkins High School on March 6. The Irish won the game, 37-35, and will face the Mountain Lions Thursday in state tourney action.
"The outcome in all three games could have went either way. ... in our favor or Notre Dame's."
The teams each won on their respected home courts, but it was the Irish that snapped Tucker County's run of sectional championships with a 37-35 win at Elkins High School.
"I think losing to Notre Dame in the sectional final will have our kids ready to play," Gutshall said. "We're looking forward to the challenge, and it should be a another good game."
Both teams rely on seniors for scoring.
The Mountain Lions are led by senior forward Ian Nichols, who went over 1,000 points for his career earlier this season. Fellow seniors Mitchell Mason and Austin Zirk are also counted on for scoring. Mason had 16 points in the Mountain Lions' regional win at Moorefield.
The Irish, under Jarrod West, counter with 6-foot-4 forward Cal Cistaro, who is averaging 17.5 points. Senior guard Justin Goff is hitting for 11 points per outing, while Jarrod West, the son of the coach, also averages 11 ppg.
"We'll need to limit our turnovers to be successful," Gutshall said. "We had too many in the sectional (title) game, which cost us.
"We've been playing pretty good defense in our last three or four games. That has to continue in Charleston."
Tucker County will be making its 12th straight appearance in the state tournament.
Thursday's winner will face either Charleston Catholic or Valley-Fayette at 11:15 a.m. Friday in the semifinals.