High school basketball tournament play underway

Last updated: March 04. 2014 9:37AM - 455 Views
Ron Gregory ronjgregory@gmail.com

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As March arrives, it is time to look into the world of high school basketball tournament play. First, hats off to the Scott High School girls and Sherman’s Lady Tide for big wins last week in the sectionals. The victories mean we will be seeing more of both squads this week as they march toward the state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.

Scott picked up an impressive 56-39 win over Chapmanville Regional in Class AA, Region IV, Section 2 play last week. Meanwhile, Sissonville got by Herbert Hoover in Section 1.

The odds for Scott making it out of the region and on to Charleston looked good this week, based on their previous performances.

Meanwhile, Sherman won over Tug Valley by three to claim the Class A, Region III, Section 1 title. Midland Trail won the other section, defeating Fayetteville by a single point.

It would surely be great to see both of these Boone County teams head into Charleston for the girls big dance next week.

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Speaking of “big dances,” I often wonder what exactly motivates sportswriters to bow to the team they cover to the extent that all rational reporting is destroyed. Only a few days ago, those writers who cover the University of Southern Pennsylvania at Morgantown were jubilant in their expectations that WVU would make the NCAA’s really “big dance.” The odds of that ever happening were, at the time, slim and none. Yet those who cover some sort of WVU beat or aspire to were patting the Big 12 championship trophy for Bob Huggins and crew.

Since then, of course, the Mounties lost three in a row and virtually sealed their own fate. And less and less is being written about how brilliant Huggins has been in handling the 2013-14 team.

For my part, I do believe Huggins has been a great college basketball coach. But I also feel that time and circumstances have passed him by. Modern-day student/athletes do not want to be constantly berated and ridiculed on national television and in front of a crowd of spectators. That’s the only style Huggins knows. If he is not belittling his players, he’s raving at the game officials.

My guess is that most aspiring athletes who watch Huggins’ tirades on TV are reluctant to come and play for him. The location in Morgantown does not add to the attraction of WVU basketball. Thus, WVU is doomed to remain doormats in the Big 12, both for basketball and football.

Huggins, frankly, likely got more wins out of the current team than most coaches would have. Still, the time for him to go has long passed. I know the whining about him being a “true Mountaineer” goes on. Tell that to those who tried to coax him to Morgantown when he was at Cincinnati. He was a “true Bearcat” then.

The WVU coach also makes light of his drinking episodes, which seems to sit okay with deeply-religious Mountaineer fans who regularly listen to him curse like a trooper on the sidelines. Hmmn. Drinking alcohol and cursing. THAT’S definitely the role model West Virginia Bible-thumpers need.

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Meanwhile, if some “inside” reports are true and Marshall does not intend to fire Head Basketball Coach Tom Herrion after this season, the athletic department surely wants to make a disaster of the basketball program. If DeAndre Kane isn’t proof positive that Herrion has no idea how to coach a college player, I don’t know what Kane’s performance this season for Iowa State shows.

Everyone who watches Marshall basketball knew what a talent Kane is — except, apparently, Herrion. Moving to Iowa State has made Kane a national superstar, which he could have been at Marshall as well if he’d had any coaching.

Herrion MUST go.

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On the other hand, in the boys sectionals, Scott is prepared to play Wayne this evening (Wednesday, March 5) at the Logan Fieldhouse. The Skyhawks will be prohibitive favorites to defeat their opponent in the opening round, after Wayne dispatched Tolsia in the opening game Saturday.

If Scott wins tonight, they will play for the Region IV, Section 2 championship Friday evening at 7:30 p.m., also in Willlie Akers Arena. Chapmanville and Mingo Central are to meet in the other sectional game tonight for the chance to meet the Section 2 titlist. My guess is that Brad Napier’s suddenly-better Mingo Central squad will escape from that game to meet Scott.

Scott-Mingo Central have battled well over the past few seasons and a game between those two would likely pack the fieldhouse — just as it would be filled for Scott-Chapmanville.

Certainly, I think the Tigers have a shot at defeating the Miners, but my money would be on Central, if betting was just legal in West Virginia.

Chapmanville Regional has not made a visit to the state tournament in boys basketball during its eight years of existence as a consolidation of the former Chapmanville High and Harts. As most Chapmanvillians know, the old Chapmanville High never made the state tourney, either. So, it would be some achievement if Head Coach Alan Hatcher and his crew could cut through the toughest region in the state to make the field at the civic center.

Scott, on the other hand, knows all about state tournaments, having been there last year and before. Head Coach Nick Cabell is young but his handling of the team shows a great deal of veteran expertise. Although, as I have noted, Cabell will never be as emotional as former Coach Jason Kingery, he does know how to motivate his team.

About the only minor criticism I hear of Cabell is that he plays too many players in games. I have always advocated all players getting a shot at the floor up to the high school level, but I don’t think all should play in that competition. There is one thing that can be said about Cabell’s policies, though. He certainly gets well-rounded scoring performances from the players. Seldom does anyone dominate the scoring on a Cabell team. They never get time to do so.

But Cabell’s success speaks for itself and the Hawks are my favorites to join Poca at the state tournament from Region IV.

Poca, meanwhile, should simply dominate their section with the likes of Clay County, Herbert Hoover, Nicholas County and Sissonville providing the competition. An interesting side note is that in this section, the squads play games at the home of the higher-seed rather than staying at one location, such as Logan.

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In the meantime, in Class A, Van traveled to Man the past Saturday in the tourney’s opening round while Sherman hosted Montcalm. With Man running over Van in the opener, the Hillbillies were set to visit Greater Beckley Christian last evening. Sherman, who defeated Montcalm Saturday, was at Tug Valley yesterday..

The finals in the section are set for 7 p.m., Friday at the home of the higher seed.

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It is difficult to say, at this point, which teams will win the the three class titles in a few days. As always, there will be upsets and surely someone not expected to win will make some sort of run.

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State tournament time is one of my favorite times of year, when there is an opportunity to visit with folks and renew acquaintances from times past. Those who attend the tournaments year-in and year-out are dwindling but it is still an enjoyable time.

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My appreciation is offered for all the readers who sent congratulatory messages on the birth of my first granddaughter, Mahayla Brooke Gregory. She is the daughter of my youngest, Chay, who graduated from Logan High School in 2007.

Mahayla seemed unconcerned when I attempted to tell her about moving Chay from school-to-school in pursuit of a state high school basketball tournament appearance. When I told her that her dad finally made it with Logan, she dozed back off to sleep.

I thought of telling her of the exciting athletic exploits at the old Harts High, but I figured she needed rest more than anything. I’ll tell her about that later, I guess.

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Your comments, game results, rumors and story ideas are always welcome. Use my email address or call my cell at 304-533-5185.

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