From a star-studded lineup of former Mountaineers to some thrilling Elam Endings, the West Virginia Regional of The Basketball Tournament almost had it all.
From a Mountaineer fan perspective, it only lacked one more win for Best Virginia, the team led by WVU hoops alumni, which fell just a few buckets shy of a berth in TBT Championship Week in Dayton.
Best Virginia, one of the region’s two co-hosts, played in a trio of exciting games, including an opener against WoCo Showtime that came down to a next basket wins situation. The team’s run at the tournament’s $1 million prize ended Wednesday night, when Team 23 knocked off Best Virginia 75-67.
Even though the quest for the tournament’s jackpot is over, player and general manager John Flowers thinks the event was a success, as evidenced by an outpouring of support from Mountaineer fans on social media.
“This is more than winning $1 million to me,” Flowers said after Wednesday’s loss. “It’s a great opportunity for the city of Charleston, a great opportunity for the state of West Virginia.”
So, what’s next for Best Virginia? This all-star team of WVU alumni captivated fans and got to play meaningful games in the Mountain State once again after the 2020 West Virginia Regional was cancelled.
Flowers admits that it took a lot of effort to bring the TBT to Charleston, but maybe the event will return to West Virginia next summer.
“I would love to have it in Morgantown, in our real home: at the Coliseum,” Flowers said. “We’ll try to make some noise on that, try to get that talked about — whatever we need to do to get that done.”
There will be more challenges to overcome before that could happen, though. Flowers said it might be “tough” to keep the Best Virginia roster in tact for another run.
“We had a couple of older guys that might not come back,” Flowers said.
How could those players be replaced? Best Virginia could be forced to add “outsiders” to the roster. It did so once before, just days before tipoff, when former Fairmont State Falcon Jamel Morris joined the team, becoming the first non-WVU player to suit up for Best Virginia in a TBT game. Morris turned out to be a welcome addition, averaging 10 points per game — the third highest on the team.
In the past, some TBT teams have merged in order to boost their chances at winning the grand prize. Herd That, the team led by Marshall basketball alumni, could stand as a potential match for such a move.
“We might be in talks with Herd That to combine that team, make a West Virginia super team,” Flowers said. “Maybe. We’ll see.”
TBT action resumes this weekend when regionals begin in Ohio and Illinois. TBT Championship Week tips off July 31 in Dayton, Ohio.