There is no room for error. Beginning last week, and continuing through the remainder of the season, every game is sudden death.
This annual scenario is known as West Virginia's March Madness, or more simply, the road to Charleston.
The philosophy is simple. Play well and survive to the next round. Play poorly and your season is finished.
Bridgeport (12-9) stands one game from advancing to the state tournament. Only Ritchie County stands in its way. The two face off at 7:30 tonight at Robert C. Byrd High School for the Region II title and berth in next week's boys state tournament.
Before last week's 46-43 win over South Harrison, the Indians had lost six of their last seven games. Ritchie County (14-8), meanwhile, is coming off an 89-78 dismantling of Lincoln behind the play of guard Eli Heagy and forward Shane Dotson.
Heagy, a junior, scored 28 points, while Dotson, also a junior, added 25 points and 12 rebounds.
Containing Heagy will be key for the Indians to advance. The junior forward leads the team in scoring and rebounding at 19.8 points per game and 8.5 rebounds per game. Jay Cronin is next in scoring at 13.7 ppg. Senior Ryan Jones is Ritchie County's second leading rebounder at 6.3 rpg., while Dotson follows at 5.8 rpg.
While the Rebels would like to get into an uptempo transition game, Bridgeport has been more of a deliberate halfcourt team which seems to pick its times to run in transition.
Despite its ups and downs the Indians remain one of the most productive offenses in the area.
Senior forward Ryan Post and senior guard Greg Harrison give the Indians a dominating inside-outside combination.
Post leads the team in scoring at 15.4 points per game, while Harrison (15.1 ppg) is a lethal outside shooter with a quick release.
Junior Chris Liebig (3.9 ppg) will start at the point, while senior forwards Curtis Nuzum (9.9 ppg) and Curt Martin (8.8 ppg) round out the starting lineup for Bridgeport. Junior forward Vince Veltri (4.8 ppg) is the Indians' top reserve.