March 21, 1914: W.Va. Boys’ High School Basketball Tournament Begins in Buckhannon

Mar 21, 2018

Credit e-WV Encyclopedia / Chris Dorst/The Charleston Gazette

The first state boys’ high school basketball tournament began in Buckhannon on March 21, 1914. The event was hosted by West Virginia Wesleyan College, which had West Virginia’s largest and finest gymnasium. Elkins High School took that first state title.

The tournament grew quickly in popularity. In 1922, a field of 64 teams was broken into ‘‘A’’ and ‘‘B’’ divisions, classified based on team strength rather than school size. In 1933, the tournament was reorganized with sectional winners advancing to eight regional tournaments.

The winner of those eight regionals—known as the ‘‘State Eight’’—then met in the statewide tournament. Since 1959, West Virginia has used a three-class format, based on school size.

To accommodate the growing crowds, the tournament was moved from Buckhannon to Mountaineer Field House in Morgantown in 1939. Beginning in 1955, the tournament began alternating between Morgantown and Huntington’s Memorial Field House. The Charleston Civic Center was added to the rotation in 1965. Charleston became the sole host site in 1972.

And what’s the winningest team in state high school tournament history? Beckley’s Woodrow Wilson, the winner of 16 state titles.