CHARLESTON - Tucker County coach Tom Gutshall believes his team and Greater Beckley Christian play similar styles.
But one difference in the teams could be experience.
While Gutshall will lead the Mountain Lions to their 12th straight Class A state tournament appearance at 9 p.m. today at the Civic Center, the Crusaders have not advanced this far since 2007.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Angie Pritt
Tucker County begins Class A state tournament action at 9 p.m. today against Greater Beckley Christian at the Charleston Civic Center. Members of the Mountain Lions are front row, from left, Owen Evans, Trevor Kidwell, Ian Nichols, Tyler Snyder and Seth Rader; back row, Mikhail Lewis, Mitchell Mason, Derek Zirk, Austin Zirk, Nathaniel Goldstein, Zach Armstrong and Samuel Shoemaker.
"They play a lot like we do," Gutshall said. "They have a guard (Javonne Staunton-Bailey) that likes to penetrate and they have a very good 3-point shooter (Keith Mullins).
"It should be a very good matchup, and I would like to think our experience playing down here will be an advantage for us."
Staunton-Bailey is averaging 18.1 points and 7.2 assists for Greater Beckley Christian (21-6), which is coached by Dan Burd.
Mullins, the lone senior on the team, is the leading scorer with 19.1 points per game. Sophomore guard Elisha Kidd also averages in double figures with 12.9 points.
"The key for us on defense will be guarding the perimeter and getting back in transition," Gutshall said. "We can't let (Mullins) come out and start hitting a bunch of (3-pointers)."
Tucker County (20-3) counters with senior guard Tyler Snyder and junior forward Ian Nichols. Nichols is coming off a 28-point, 12-rebound effort in the regional win over East Hardy.
Senior guard Nathaniel Goldstein, junior guard Austin Zirk and sophomore forward Mikhail Lewis round out the probable starting five.
Seniors Trevor Kidwell, Samuel Shoemaker and Seth Rader, along with juniors Zach Armstrong and Mitchell Mason are players to watch off the bench.
"We need to take care of the basketball on offense," Gutshall said. "At the state tournament, every possession is important.
"If we come out and play hard, I think we have a chance of doing well."
Today's winner will face either top-seeded Tug Valley or Notre Dame at 1 p.m. Friday in the semifinals.