With over a full month of the season and a week of conference play complete, EPAC boys basketball teams have put the state of West Virginia on notice that the Eastern Panhandle cannot be left out of the conversation for state title contenders in Class AAAA.
The hosts of Panhandle Sports Live each submitted their power rankings of the six EPAC teams on Monday:
1. Spring Mills (18)
The Cardinals were the unanimous pick for the top spot in this season’s inaugural power rankings.
An early-season win over two-time AAAA runner-up Parkersburg South got plenty of eyes looking at Luke Samples’ team and anyone who hadn’t woken up to the talent this team certainly did when it handed Morgantown its first loss to an in-state opponent since 2021.
Caleb Thomas has emerged as a candidate for the Evans Award and as potentially the best two-way player in West Virginia while Loakkhae Uth-Smith is developing into one of the most prolific scorers in the state.
As the lone unbeaten team left in the EPAC, there is little doubt that Spring Mills has established itself as the team to beat in the conference after one month but there is plenty left to prove against league opponents.
2. Jefferson (14)
With four starters returning from last season’s state semifinal team, the Cougars were viewed statewide as a title contender in Class AAAA.
Richard Lewis’s team has done little to disappoint on that front so far. The backcourt combination of Jamari Jenkins and Jaiden Gladney, when healthy, picked up right where it left off while Kylan Johnson has made up for the scoring lost by the departure of Will Shively.
The one blemish on the record for Jefferson came in conference play against Martinsburg on a night when Jenkins and Johnson did not play. At full strength, the Cougars have the ability to beat any team in the Mountain State.
3. Martinsburg (12)
Don’t let the fact that Martinsburg is ranked behind Jefferson fool you: that win was no fluke.
It surprised many when Martinsburg took down Jefferson in its EPAC opener but without the scoring of Jenkins and Johnson, the Cougars could not keep up with the athleticism on display from the Bulldogs.
As the backcourt combo of Spring Mills transfer Keshaun Cheek and freshman Jasiah King continues to gel over time, Dave Rogers’s team is only going to improve and this looks like a team that will be hitting its peak in March.
4. Hedgesville (10)
Kelly Church basketball has been on full display through one week of EPAC competition.
Hedgesville had a lot of questions entering the season after graduating five starters from a state tournament appearance last season.
New faces have stepped in and the product is much the same with Te Wilmer shouldering the scoring load while Xavier Kirk and Kwynsie Pittsnogle have emerged as X-factors on both ends of the floor.
Holding conference opponents to just 25.5 points per game through their first two league contests, the Eagles are a unique challenge that aren’t afraid to take anybody’s best shot.
5. Musselman (6)
The fact that this Musselman team is ranked fifth after one month of the season says more about the strength of the EPAC than it does about the Applemen.
Early-season wins over traditional powers Parkersburg South and Woodrow Wilson have let the state know that Derek Basile’s team is one with plenty of talent and it’s only blemishes have come against Hedgesville and a one-loss Bridgeport team.
Musselman brings perhaps the deepest frontcourt in the EPAC with the trio of Troy Woolaston, Matt Mahood, and Anden Santamaria. That old school, inside-out style of basketball has served the Applemen well and they’re a threat to beat any team in the conference.
6. Washington (3)
The Ryan Miller era at Washington started with a bang as the Patriots won their first four games of the season before a three-game slide brought them back to earth.
This season is already an improvement over a 3-18 campaign a year ago and the pieces continue to come together for Washington to be a threat to the EPAC in the near future.
Spring Mills transfer DJ Boardley burst onto the scene as one of the most prolific scorers in the state while sophomore point guard Kris Doleman continues to develop alongside Jefferson transfer Chet Gore with the latter bringing a walking mismatch to the table as a 6-6 wing.
The Patriots have already come a long way under Miller’s direction since he was named head coach last spring and it appears the future is very bright at Washington.