Central vs. Maggie Walker (2016 VHSL)

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The Makings of an Upset

Scholastic Bowl has had many great upsets in its long history, but by far one of the most notable of these upsets occurred at the 2016 VHSL 2A State Championship. Since the 2014 VHSL Realignment, the inclusion of Maggie Walker in the 2A classification (along with Thomas Jefferson in 5A) was not a popular decision overall; previously, MWGS and TJ had been placed in the largest VHSL classification, Group AAA, for academic activities. Since 15 of the 16 Group AAA Scholastic Bowl Championships from 1998-2013 had been won by either MWGS or TJ, this seemed to set the stage for both schools to dominate their new classifications in Scholastic Bowl, with virtually no rivals in either classification.

The Two Schools

Given the prestigious history of Maggie Walker's program, a 2A school pulling an upset over them would be quite a feat. Wise-Central's Scholastic Bowl team had its own roots of success, just not in VHSL format; it was formed in 2013 from the consolidation of Pound High School and JJ Kelly High School, both of which had known some previous success in the "Wise County PACE" (in Pound's case) and VHSL formats. While Central High School is located in the depths of Southwest Virginia, it is one of a small number of college towns in the region, giving its student body a slightly more affluent background than most its neighboring schools. Central also possessed a slight edge in age, with 3 Seniors and 1 Junior to Gov's 1 Senior and 3 Juniors.

The Showdown

Various speculation has occurred regarding the cause of Maggie's downfall to Central, 235-170, including the possibility that the program was still in the transition stages after the retirement of longtime coach John Barnes. On the same day, Gov also narrowly beat George Mason 205-185, perhaps marking the low-water mark for Gov's VHSL scoring in several years. 2016 would also be the first time in 15 years that Maggie Walker did not attend the NAQT HSNCT, but they did finish their year with a 20th-place performance at NSC, where Central finished 76th.


As fate would have it, Maggie would encounter Central once again at the 2017 VHSL 2A State Championship; though Maggie won the rematch in a similar fashion to 2016 (by a score of 235-175), Central took home the 2A State Runner-Up title, persevering from a season which had included several losses to Gate City, Honaker, and Tazewell, and the breaking of their four year long Conference Regular Season winning streak.