Hatfield-McCoy Shootout Schedule for 1/17/15

Williamson Fieldhouse

The Annual Hatfield-McCoy WV/KY shootout will take place on January 17 at the Williamson Fieldhouse. As always, there is a solid lineup of games that will make for a great day of watching hoops at the historic fieldhouse. Here is the schedule for the day:

11:30 am            Phelps (KY) vs. Hannan

1:00 pm            Pike Central (KY) vs. Man

2:30 pm            Belfry (KY) vs. Mingo Central (Girls)

4:00 pm            East Ridge (KY) vs. Tolsia

5:30 pm            Wesley Christian (KY) vs. South Charleston

7:00 pm            Belfry (KY) vs. Mingo Central

8:30 pm            Sheldon Clark (KY) vs. Valley (Fayette)

The first matchup features two tiny schools. I’m told the Hornets of Phelps are improved this year and currently hold a record of 6-9. Hannan sits at 2-7 on the season.

The Pike County Central Hawks are currently in the top half of their 16-team region with a 9-9 record. From watching them each of the last two seasons, this should be a good matchup with Man. The Hillbillies currently sit at 3-4 on the season.

The Shootout includes a girls contest this year, as Mingo Central and Belfry will meet in the Tug River Rivalry. The Miners are at 5-5, while Belfry sits at 7-8.

The Warriors of East Ridge are 7-8 and sit in the middle of the pack in their region in KY. They take on a Tolsa team that is still in search of their first win.

Wesley Christian is a prep school that no longer competes in the KHSAA. This team has played a slew of WV schools already, ranging from Huntington Prep to Ambassador Christian. Probably their two most relevant games are close wins over Tug Valley and Charleston Catholic. The Black Eagles of South Charleston are still undefeated. I expect this to be a much better matchup than when these two teams met two years ago, when SC ran them out of the fieldhouse.

Next, we have the boys’ version of the bitter Tug River Rivalry game. The Pirates sit at just 3-9 on the season but have lost a bunch of close games and also have a 2-point home win over Tug Valley. Mingo Central is 8-3. This game produced a fantastic ending a year ago, with Dalton Hatfield hitting a runner at the buzzer to give the Miners the victory in front of a packed house.

The final game will feature the 12-1 Cardinals of Sheldon Clark, who have been in control of this region in KY where most all the other teams in this Shootout play (except Wesley Christian). The Valley Greyhounds are 6-1 on the season and should match up very well with Sheldon Clark. This could very well end up being the game of the day.

If you live anywhere within reasonable driving distance, come out to the Williamson Fieldhouse on Saturday. You will get a good day of hoops at one of the most historic venues in the state.

(All above records are as accurate as I could find as of 1/14/15 before any games were played on that day.)

Chapmanville 64–Mingo Central 62 1/13/15

Drew Williamson tipped one in at the buzzer to give Chapmanville a 64-62 win over Mingo Central on Tuesday night. Williamson led all scorers with 23, with Josh Butcher adding 18 and Jordan Whitt 13. Dikembe and Montrell Dixson scored 20 and 18, respectively, for the Miners.

Both teams came out playing well offensively in the first quarter, with Chapmanville leading 17-14 at the end of it. The Tigers then played most of the next two quarters somewhat in control of the game. The lead seemed to stay somewhere around 8-10 points, with CRHS leading by 8 at the half and 9 after three quarters.

Mingo Central started to come alive in the fourth and slowly chipped away at the lead. A Montrell Dixson jumper and a steal and lay in by Dalton Hatfield (9 pts) with about a minute to play gave the Miners their first lead since at least the first quarter if not the entire ballgame at 60-59. Central appeared to have a steal on the ensuing possession, but somehow Trey Dalton came up with the ball and found Butcher wide open on the wing, and he drilled a 3-pointer to put the Tigers back up by 2. Montrell Dixson came right back down, scored, and was fouled with around 30 seconds to play, but he missed the free throw. Tie game at 62 with Chapmanville holding for the last shot. Butcher drove to the baseline and put up a leaner from about 15-feet away that missed, and then a teammate (I couldn’t tell who) tipped the ball back up to the rim and missed. This time, it came off the back side right into the hands of Williamson, who tipped it back up and in just ahead of the buzzer to seal the victory.

Chapmanville is looking better and better. They have one of the best and most consistent scorers in the state in Butcher, and Williamson gets better every time I see him. He’s already proven that he’s a lethal shooter, but he shows me a few more things he can do on both ends of the court every time I watch him. This is also the best game I have seen Jordan Whitt play thus far. They will need him to continue to improve and give them a presence inside. Ben Eke is now eligible to play, but I am told he has a shoulder injury that could cause him to miss significant time. Without him, they are a team that is good defensively and can get hot and put points on the board with just about anyone. If they are ever able to finally get him in the lineup, this could be a really good team.

This is the third time I’ve seen Mingo Central (all against good teams), and each time I’ve watched them, they have looked really good in spurts. The Dixsons were just okay for some stretches, but then they took to game over for stretches of the fourth quarter and came within a bounce of the ball (the near-steal in the last minute) from likely pulling out the win. Mallie May (8 pts), who is somehow playing and really getting after it despite having a completely torn ligament in his knee, really gives this team a lift. They have been playing well of late, and if this team can get it rolling and put everything together, they will be really, really dangerous.

Why Do Private Schools Win So Many “A” Championships?

Let’s start with a trivia question:

In the three-classification era (1959-present), how many public schools that have won the Class A boys’ basketball state championship are still in existence?

(I’ll give you a second to think about it.)

(If you just throw out a number I bet it will be high.)

(If you actually try to name them, you’ll realize how low it is.)

(If you went to the WVSSAC website, you cheated.)

Ok. Time for the answer: 5. Yep, just 5 public schools that have ever won a Class A boys’ state title are still in existence. Those 5, starting with the most recent:

Tug Valley (2013)

Doddridge County (1994)

Paden City (1987, 1973, 1960)

Hedgesville (1970)

Williamstown (1962)

(If we want to add public school teams still in existence that have made it to a final but did not win, we can only add 6 more.)

Let’s take a closer look at those five schools. I’d like to begin by throwing Hedgesville out for our purposes. Yes, Hedgesville is still a school, but that school does not exist in any similar way to how it existed in 1970. It had grown to at least five times the size it was then before some of the students were taken from it to start Spring Mills.

(I’m getting somewhere with this, I promise.)

That leaves us with 4. Let’s look at Tug Valley next. This school was AA for most of its existence (opened in 1987), dropped down to A for a few years in the mid-2000s, jumped back up to AA, and then dropped back down to A for the 2012-13 season in which they won the title. (If I had to guess, I’d say they will be in Class A to stay now.) After winning the AA title in 2012, the Panthers dropped down and snap an 11-season private school run of titles. They will be in the mix for more titles in the coming years.

Before Tug, we have to go all the way back to Doddridge County knocking off Burch to claim the 1994 title to find a Class A championship school that is still in existence. Before that, Paden City won one title each in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, and Williamstown picked up a title in 1962. Outside of Hedgesville in 1970, that’s it.

So this all leads to my ultimate point and question in writing this: Why do private schools win so many Class A state championships? As is usually the case, you can’t narrow it down to just one factor. I do think that private schools do have an advantage over the public A schools, not that they necessarily “recruit” like many charge them of doing, but that they are in much larger population areas. Schools will have a better chance of drawing good athletes from areas like Charleston and Beckley than they do from places like Van and Montcalm.

But of course that’s not the only reason. These private schools that have been successful have some really good coaches. I saw more evidence of this firsthand each of the last two years when I watched Coach McClanahan take Charleston Catholic teams that looked pretty average early in the season all the way to the title game. I’ve also always thought the private school championship teams were usually really, really good on defense, which is always an underrated reason why teams win titles.

But could there be another reason? Is it possible that most of the public school teams that would win Class A titles are just no longer in existence? Sure, there are teams that can and do compete on a regular basis. Tucker County, who is a bounce or two away from having at least one title, is the clearest example of this. I expect Tug Valley and Magnolia to join this group now that they have moved down (and also win some championships.) Others, like St. Marys in 2012, make runs from time to time and are certainly capable of winning the title, but for some reason always seem to come up a little short.

Let’s think of some schools that are no longer around to test this. Mullens was one of the major powers in the classification and won the 1998 title in the final year of the school. Who had a great run in the mid- to late-2000s? Wyoming East, of course. Is it possible that Mullens or Pineville (I’m not sure where the majority of those kids came from) could have claimed a title or two in that stretch? It’s certainly possible.

A much more current example is Oceana. The school was a regular basketball power for years until it closed in the early 2000s. Do you think Oceana might have won the Class A title last season with Corey Bowles, Justin Cogar, and Will Fox if the school was open? Westside was right in contention for the AA title. You would have to love their chances to win the A title last year.

So many more great Class A basketball traditions are gone: Harts, Burch, Huntington Vinson, Williamson, etc. Some shriveled up to where there wouldn’t be much left at the school, but others are still producing that same talent, but it’s now consolidated into a AA or AAA school. Even though Charleston Catholic, Wheeling Central, and Parkersburg Catholic have had some really good teams, I can’t help but think some of these schools would have won some of the state championships over that time period.

No disrespect is intended to the current Class A public schools, many of which are perfectly capable of winning titles but have just been unable to break through for one reason or the other. There are many factors as to why private schools have dominated the classification in boys’ basketball in the last 15 years, but I believe a big part of it is that many of the schools that might knock them off simply no longer exist.

Capital 78–Winfield 59 1/10/15

Winfield fought off an early flurry from Capital but could not withstand a big second half charge as the Cougars rolled to a 78-59 victory at home on Saturday night. Jordan Kinney and LeAndre’ Rogers paced Capital with 19 points apiece, and Neal Williams added 14.  Heath Diehl led all scorers with 23 for Winfield, and Bear Bellomy and Alex Osburn chipped in 12 and 11, respectively.

The Generals struggled with Capital’s pressure early as the Cougars jumped out to a 15-9 lead at the end of the first quarter. Winfield bounced back in the second, however, due largely to a scoring flurry by Diehl (13 in the quarter). The Capital lead was just one at 32-31 at the half. Capital came storming out of the gate in the second half, outscoring the Generals 29-11 in the third quarter before rolling to the 19-point victory.

Outside of a few lulls in the second quarter, Capital looked really good again. The first time I saw them play, they tried to pack in their defense and slow the game down a little bit against South Charleston. They were the opposite in this one, playing (often full court) pressure man-to-man defense, pushing the pace, and trying to force Winfield into quick shots and turnovers. Winfield struggled with this pressure and Capital feasted off of it for much of the night. The Cougars can match up athletically with anyone in the state, and have a chance to make it back to Charleston for the first time in a few years.

This was a really difficult matchup for Winfield. They didn’t have the athleticism to match up with Capital, nor did they have the size to gain an advantage inside. They fought valiantly in the first half, though, especially with that crazy scoring run from Diehl. The good news for Winfield is that this game is over and they won’t have to worry about Capital again unless the two would happen to meet in the state tournament. They can match up with everyone in their section and region with the possible exception of Huntington, and they always have a shot with the way Bellomy can shoot it. If Diehl continues to play well and can become a third scorer alongside Bellomy and Osburn, that will go a long way. I still think Winfield will win a couple games they probably shouldn’t and maybe lose a couple games they shouldn’t throughout the season, and I think they have a great chance to make it to the sectional final. They will have at least a puncher’s chance from there.

George Washington 67–Cabell Midland 51 1/10/15

George Washington scored the first 9 points of the fourth quarter to pull away from Cabell Midland for a 67-51 victory on Saturday evening. Jonah Cosby led all scorers with 21 for the Patriots, while Drew Baker (13 pts), Larry Bryson (11), and Justin Phillips (10) joined him in double figures. Mark Wilcox led Midland with 18 points, with Coy Petitt adding 13 and Colton Tilley 10.

For much of the first three quarters, it looked as if GW, who was celebrating 50 years of basketball on the evening, was going to pull away. Good outside shooting efforts from Wilcox (4 3-pointers) and Tilley (2 3’s) kept Midland in the game, and the Knights trailed by just 4 entering the final period. The Patriots quickly scored 9 points, capped by a 2-handed Cosby dunk, to push the lead up to 13 and coasted from there to the victory.

GW is still coming together, and it’s going to take a little time with their youth and new faces. At times they look great, and then they will struggle for a few minutes. I still really like the young core of Phillips, Bryson, and Anthony Dean to go along with Cosby and Shawn Cunningham, who should return from a knee injury in about a week. They will be tough by the end of the season and have a great nucleus for the future.

Midland, who is winless through six games, is off to a rough start against mostly good competition. There are not all that many off nights in the MSAC, but their schedule will lighten a little. They showed some bright spots in this one, especially with their outside shooting. I think they will continue to improve, but it’s hard to see them being competitive in their section with Huntington, Spring Valley, and Logan.

Tug Valley 50–Greater Beckley Christian 47 1/9/15

Freshman Tyler May hit seven 3-pointers and scored 23 points in the biggest game of his young career to lead Tug Valley to a 50-47 win over Greater Beckley Christian in Naugatuck on Friday night. Elisha Kidd scored 10 to lead the Crusaders.

Entering the game, this did not appear to be a great matchup. GBC was scoring a bunch of points while undefeated on the season, including a neutral court win over Capital. Tug Valley was just 3-3 and had shown inconsistency with a young team. I learned a while back, though, to never underestimate just how good Tug Valley is at home and how difficult it is to pick up a win in Naugatuck.

The game was tight throughout, with neither team holding a lead of much more than a few points. (Tug led by two at the end of the first, GBC led by a point at the half, and the game was tied at the end of three quarters.) Tug Valley showed from the tip that they were up for the task. May was the big spark in the first half for Tug, making 5 of his 3-pointers in the first half, 4 of which came in the second period. Fellow freshman Jeremy Dillon (8 pts) warmed up in the third quarter with three baskets in quick succession, but the Crusaders seemed to match all of them. Kidd opened the fourth quarter with back-to-back baskets to take a four-point lead, but GBC would not score again until they hit a free throw with one second remaining in the game. Calvin Blankenship, who battled foul trouble all night, drilled a three (his only points of the game) midway through the final period to pull the Panthers within one before May hit yet another dagger to give them the lead with just over two minutes to play. Kidd missed two free throws that could have tied the game with 32.1 seconds remaining, and May hit two huge free throws with 8.9 seconds to play to ice the game for Tug.

This is a very intriguing Tug Valley team. They return three starters from a year ago (Blankenship, Austin Baisden, and Hayden Sturgell). May and Dillon join them in the starting lineup, and two other freshmen saw significant action in the game. Dillon is about 6’3” and athletic and doesn’t look much like a freshman at all. He’s also very versatile. He can go and bang inside and rebound, and he also spent part of the game as the primary ball handler. When he’s essentially running the point, he can be a really tough matchup for opposing guards. It is my understanding that May has been a little inconsistent to start the season (which is understandable for a freshman), but it’s encouraging that he broke out in such a big and important game. Perhaps the most impressive of anything for Tug was their team defensive effort. They managed to put some pressure on GBC without getting consistently beaten off the dribble. They didn’t allow many good looks at the basket, and they frustrated Kidd and Isaiah Francis (8 pts) all night. This team has loads of promise and potential, both for this season and the next few to come.

I’m going to try not to overreact to this win for Tug though. They still have a long way to go. The Panthers only got 8 points combined from their returners (some of that was due to foul trouble), and they will need more point production out of them moving forward. This team is still going to be inconsistent for a while, and I’m not yet convinced that they are a better team overall than GBC. I won’t be surprised if they still lost a game or two in the regular season that really makes you scratch your head. My biggest question moving forward is if this is the game that they finally put it together and gets them rolling forward. At some point this season, I think it’s all going to click and it’s going to stay. Maybe that time is now, or maybe it will still take a while for everything to come together. Regardless, I think this team is going to be really tough to knock out in the postseason, especially if you have to do it in Naugatuck.

The loss for Greater Beckley Christian isn’t alarming to me in the least. The Crusaders comfortably won both of their home contests with Tug Valley last season but lost at Tug. Francis and Kidd both had rough nights, but Kidd is still going to be a consisten 20+ ppg scorer, and I can tell that Francis has improved quite a bit. Cortney Walton has also made some major strides forward, and I expect him to continue to be a consistent scorer. On top of everything else, GBC really defends, and that is why they will go far. Though May had a hot night, giving up 50 points isn’t exactly getting torched. I’m sure there will be many people that overreact to this outcome, but I won’t be one of them. Greater Beckley Christian is very good, and Tug Valley is also good and picked up a great win, but they still have a ways to go.

South Charleston 56–Capital 48 1/8/15

South Charleston overcame a slow start and held off rival Capital down the stretch to pull out a 56-48 at the South Charleston Community Center on Thursday night. Brandon Knapper led all scorers with 20 for the Black Eagles, with Tamon Scruggs adding 11 and Deshawn Hatfield 10. Jordan Kinney paced Capital with 14, and Miguel Bays scored 10.

Both teams came out struggling on the offensive end, with Capital holding an 8-6 lead at the end of the first quarter. The Cougars started the game in a 2-3 zone that really slowed down the South Charleston offense. In the second quarter, the Black Eagles started to roll, largely because they were able to generate some steals and points in transition. SC led 22-19 at the half.

In the third quarter, Jordan Kinney, who picked up two quick fouls and sat for most of the first half, got going for Capital and scored 12 in the period, but the Black Eagles still held a 44-40 margin at the end of three. South Charleston held a slim 50-48 lead when play was delayed to clean up part of the floor with about 3:30 to play, and the SC defense held Capital scoreless for the remainder of the game to pull out the 56-48 win.

South Charleston is really good, but they still have some holes. They are very athletic, but they still lack some experience. Knapper and Kentre Grier are really the only two players that have any experience from last year’s team, and though they are really talented, it is going to take a while for the rest to round into form. In some ways, this team reminds me of last year’s team. There are a lot of times when they are not dominant and look vulnerable, yet they keep finding ways to win. One thing is for certain: Any time South Charleston goes out there with Brandon Knapper on the floor, they have a great chance of winning. He was great again in this game, really serving as a spark for the entire team when they desperately needed it in the second quarter. When he is on, he is virtually unguardable. In a AAA field that, in my opinion, has a bunch of good but no great teams right now, South Charleston has a chance to be as good as any of them by the end of the season.

There are plenty of reasons for Capital fans to be enthused as well. I thought they were even quicker and more athletic as a team than South Charleston, which is saying something. It’s possible that this game could have had a different outcome if Jordan Kinney had not sat out all but about 2 ½ minutes of the first half with foul trouble. He is a really nice player, and Capital is a lot better with him on the floor. Neal Williams (9 pts) gives the Cougars a nice athletic presence inside, and they have a whole slew of quick guards. This is only Capital’s second loss of the season, with the other coming at the hands of Greater Beckley Christian. Much as I’ve said with a bunch of AAA teams this season, Capital will be right in the mix in their section and region for a spot in the state tournament.

Poca 51–Scott 29 1/6/15

Poca cranked up the stifling defense and rolled to a 51-29 victory over visiting Scott on Tuesday night. Matt Chandler led Poca with 17 points and Noah Frampton chipped in 12. Nick Dolan led the Skyhawks with 7 points.

The story of this game was really Poca’s defense. Scott actually did one of the better jobs I’ve seen in quite a while of limiting the Dots on the offensive end. They limited Elijah Cuffee (8) and Luke Frampton (6) to just 14 combined points and held Poca to just 51 on the night, but Scott just could not score. They ran their offense and were careful not to take bad or rushed shots (Poca will annihilate you when you do that), but good shots just do not come easy against this Poca defense. The Dots are athletic, and though they don’t have any individual that is huge, they have good team size that allows them to switch screens with ease when necessary and have players guard a variety positions. On top of that, Scott lacks that one scorer that can catch fire and ignite the offense. As odd as this may sound, I thought Scott, a good team, played pretty well and still lost by 22 and only scored 29 points.

I’ve now seen almost all of the top teams in AA and AAA, and I’m not sure I’ve seen a team in any classification better than Poca this year. I could bring up some of the same concerns that someone big inside could give them trouble and that they don’t have much depth, but their starting 5 is awesome. I’ve seen nights like this one when their defense is absolutely stifling, and I’ve seen nights when they are drilling shots and just run people out of the gym. They can play fast or slow, in transition or in the half court. There are so many ways that Poca can beat you. I’m definitely not going to say this team is unbeatable (especially on the road), but it’s also hard to pinpoint exactly where they will lose. They were my favorites before the season to win the AA title, and I have yet to see any reason to change that.

Not much changes on my evaluation of Scott, either. The loss drops them to 5-2 on the season, with the two losses coming at the hands of Westside and Poca, who aren’t exactly chumps. If they can knock off Mingo Central at home on Friday, they will be in the early driver’s seat for the crucial top seed in the section. One thing remains abundantly clear for teams in AA Region 4 Section 2: You don’t want to have to go play a regional final at Poca.

Doubleheader at Logan 1/3/15

On Saturday night, Logan hosted a varsity doubleheader. In the first game, Hedgesville traveled all the way from the Eastern Panhandle to take on George Washington, and in the nightcap, Logan hosted Westside.

In the first game, George Washington pulled away in the fourth quarter for a 58-49 victory over Hedgesville. Freshman Justin Phillips paced the Patriots with 15 points while teammates Jonah Cosby and Anthony Dean added 14 and 12, respectively. Marcus Gulledge led all scorers with 22 for Hedgesville, and Travis Foster chipped in 13.

The game was pretty tight throughout, with GW holding a small lead for most of the game. The Patriots led by 5 at the end of first quarter and by 4 at the half, but Hedgesville closed the gap in the third quarter to tie the game at 36. GW was just a little too much for the Eagles in the final period, though, as they scored 22 points and made 5 of 6 free throws late to ice the game.

GW is young with a very promising future. Dean, a sophomore, was a really nice player last year and continues to improve, and follow sophomore big man Larry Bryson looks good too. Phillips, just a freshman, is already a nice varsity player and could end up being great (and pretty soon). Cosby is a leader on the floor that’s helping this young team move forward. Coach Greene always does a great job bringing his teams along throughout the course of the year, and I think the Patriots will be a handful by the end of the season.

It appears that Hedgesville will go as far as Gulledge is able to take them. He is a really nice player and takes the bulk of the shots for the Eagles. If Daniel Delaware had not suffered a major leg injury in the preseason, this team would be right in the mix for another trip to Charleston and possibly contend for the state title. If they can somehow get Delaware back by the end of the season, they could still become that. They will certainly be in the mix in the Eastern Panhandle, but as it stands right now, I’d probably put them a little behind Jefferson and Martinsburg.

In the second game, Westside held on to pick up a nice 71-64 road win over Logan. Justin Cogar poured in 33 points to lead the Renegades, and Will Fox added 15. Zach Acord paced Logan with 17 points, and Kyle Porter and Austin Tre-week Noe added 13 apiece.

Westside appeared to have seized control of the game in the first half behind an impressive 18-point performance from Cogar and took a 34-27 lead into the break. The Wildcats stormed back with a 23-point third quarter to tie the game at 50, but the Renegades were just too much in the final period and pulled away late to secure the victory.

While it’s clear that Westside has talent, I think the reason they are winning games right now is as much because they know how to win as it is anything else. They are not overwhelming, but when it comes down to crunch time, they always seem to be able to make a big play. (This is a skill and a trait of good teams and not merely based on talent.) I saw it in their opener against Scott that could have went either way, they certainly did it when they won at Martinsburg, and I saw it again tonight. Also, Cogar finally looked like himself tonight, scoring 33 and hauling in every important rebound. They managed to survive a rough shooting night from Justin Kenneda (2 pts), partly because of Cogar, and partly because of nice performances off the bench from James Colucci (9 pts) and Josh Morgan (7 pts). The Renegades have the first of likely 3 or 4 installments of their yearly rivalry with Wyoming East coming up, which will be yet another test for this team. I don’t think they’re quite as talented overall as some of the other teams at the top of AA, but this is going to be a really tough team to knock out in March.

Logan is a pretty interesting team. The loss drops them to 4-1 on the season, but their wins are over good, but not great, competition. After struggles with inconsistencies each of the last two years, it looks like they finally have a good, reliable rotation. Acord is a very athletic guard and has turned into a nice scorer, and Tre-week Noe gives them a big lift on the offensive end as well. Sophomore Braxton Goff (9 pts) also continues to get better. It’s hard for me to pinpoint exactly where they fit in their region. I don’t think they’re as good as Huntington or Hurricane right now, but I do think they will be contending for a trip to the state tournament by the end of the season.

Scott 55–Chapmanville 51 1/2/15

In what is always an intense and physical matchup, Scott outlasted bitter rival Chapmanville by a final of 55-51 in Madison in the season’s first matchup between the two. Eric May, Logan Webb, and Kirk Price scored 11 apiece to lead the balanced Skyhawk scoring effort, and Anthony Sigmon added 10. Freshman Drew Williamson put on a second half shooting exhibition and finished with 20 points to lead the Tigers, and Josh Butcher chipped in 17.

This was a very typical Scott and Chapmanville game: physical, low scoring, and tight throughout. Scott led by 3 after a quarter and by just 1 at the half. They actually pushed the lead out close to double figures in the middle of the third quarter before Williamson caught fire and scored 12 in the quarter to give Chapmanville a 39-38 lead entering the final period. The Skyhawks bounced back, though, and were tough in the final period, knocking down 10 of 15 free throws down the stretch to pull out the victory.

Right now, I think Scott is playing as well as anyone in their conference and region outside of Poca. This was the first step toward claiming the top seed in the section, which will be a huge advantage this season. (The 2 vs. 3 game between two of Scott, Mingo Central, and Chapmanville will be brutal. The teams in a position where they have to beat both the other teams instead of just one will be at a big disadvantage.) I’ll be very interested to see if Scott can maintain and improve upon their level of play early in the season.

There’s no reason for Chapmanville to panic. This is their third loss, but all three are to good teams. (The other two are Riverside and Fairmont Senior.) Butcher is one of the best scorers in AA, and Williamson showed great growth tonight hitting huge shots in a big game. They will also get a huge lift when big man Ben Eke becomes eligible soon. The Tigers will certainly be in the mix in this section.