Tucker to open state tournament today

HAMBLETON — The attention of many in Tucker County will be on the Charleston Civic Center today as the Lady Mountain Lions help ring in this season’s state tournament during game one on the hardwood.

The Class A No. 3 Tucker County team will be on the court in the capitol city at 9:30 a.m. to begin a 13th consecutive run in the state tournament. Today’s opponent for TCHS will be No. 6 Williamstown (19-5).

“We can’t afford to take a quarter off in the playoffs,” veteran coach Jim Ambrose said after Tucker’s co-regional win over Trinity Christian last week. “We have three team captains that have been starters for three years, and they have been there on the state tournament court.

“We’re going to count on the veterans to lead us through game one. Focus will be key,” he said.

The Lady Mountain Lions have posted a 22-3 record. While going undefeated in Class A and picking up their latest Potomac Valley Conference crown, their losses to playoff qualifiers include AAA No. 3 Martinsburg (23-2) and AA No. 5 Lincoln (20-5).

Tucker County dropped a tough road decision (56-50) to AA Keyser in late December after a let-down performance.

The Lady Mountain Lions didn’t let that moment hold them down, going on a 12-game winning streak and only losing once more, to LHS, heading into today’s opportunity.

Basketball tradition and concentration is an important trait for several of Tucker’s student-athletes.

In fact, this year’s girls team is beating opponents by an average of 23 points per game.

Last year’s Class A state champ and current No. 4 Gilmer County was dropped for a loss, 55-48, at the hands of the Lady Mountain Lions at Glenville State College’s Waco Center during a holiday tournament matchup earlier in the season.

In addition, TCHS bettered their resume with a road win when taking down No. 8 Charleston Catholic 40-35 later on in January.

Among the accomplishments on display in the Tucker County High School gymnasium near the top of Backbone Mountain are four state titles and two runner-up spots for the Lady Mountain Lions Class AA squads of the 1990s.

If TCHS gets past round one today, they won’t have to play until Friday’s semi-final in order to try and work their way into a state championship final set for 12 p.m. on Saturday.