What could be more enjoyable than high school tournament time in the Mountain State? About all I can think of is watching a Lincoln County school bond go down to defeat, 75-25. Gosh I’d like to see THAT. Oh I did see that last Saturday.
But on the subject of the post-season, I still figure the Scott Skyhawk boys stand an excellent shot at going far. Even though Tolsia mucked up the tournament schedule by falling by two points to Chapmanville Regional, Scott continues to have a clear shot at the title round in the section.
If anyone thinks Coach Nick Cabell’s squad is not capable of defeating Mingo Central at Logan this Thursday night, he or she hasn’t seen the Hawks in action. This is a team that can beat a good Herbert Hoover club by 30 points on a given night. They are a team that can hold powerful Poca to 35 points in a decisive, season finale at Madison.
It is the opinion of your humble but loveable sports scribe that the Skyhawks are capable of beating anyone on a given night. They proved earlier in the season they could give powerhouse Bluefield a handful at the Hawks Nest.
Frankly, I don’t expect Scott to lose any time soon. Some may recall that they beat Central by one in the Coalfield Shootout back in December 2012.They did fall at Matewan by four points but that is not a neutral floor like the Willie Akers Gym will be Thursday evening.
I can hardly wait for the roar of the crowd, the smell of the popcorn and the stands filled to the rim at the legendary Logan Fieldhouse. Hopefully, tons of Skyhawk fans will make the short journey to watch the home boys play.
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In my judgment, it would be a major upset if CRHS defeats Tolsia again Thursday. The Tigers, one of my favorite teams in the whole wide world, will have trouble with the Rebels this time, I suspect.
Coach Allan Hatcher, the Kentucky coaching legend, definitely has his work cut out for him if the Tigers are to win another time. Their win over Tolsia at season’s end gave them a great warm-up game with pitiful Wayne to gain tournament experience. Playing Tolsia will not be like taking on Wayne and Hatcher undoubtedly knows it.
There is no doubt Hatcher will work the sideline hard as he always done, in perpetual motion.
If his players were conditioned as well as the old coach seems to be, CRHS might have done better this season.
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Veteran Poca Head Coach Allen Osborne was as frustrated as it is quite likely possible for him to be during this team’s meltdown against Scott. While credit has to be given to Cabell and the Hawk squad for their defensive adjustments, there is no way a high school team as talented as Poca should score two points in ANY quarter against ANY opponent. Yet they did just that in the season finale at Madison, and those two fourth quarter points did not come until the clock showed just half-a-second left in the game. Holy cow, as Harry Caray would say, they went over 11 minutes without scoring a point.
Osborne futilely called repeated timeouts and substituted over and over. It was to no avail. Absolutely nobody on the Poca team seemed to understand the object of the game in the second half.
The usually cool, reserved Osborne was beside himself as he watched his team lose its composure in the Madison gym.
I suspect the talented coach was not very cool and calm when discussing the game with his players later in the week.
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Speaking of Osborne, I remember a vintage game many seasons ago in the late Duval High School gym at Griffithsville. As noted, Osborne is usually one of the calmer coaches on the sideline and he certainly was this day as his team was handily defeating the Yellowjackets.
While known for football success, Duval was never a basketball power. In fact, one might be hard pressed to find any other school in West Virginia that participated in as many sectional tournaments as Duval without winning a single one. Thus, the gym at Duval was pretty much a cracker box, with the bleachers come right upon the playing floor.
I was beside the Poca bench snapping a picture when a game official whistled Osborne for a technical foul. The coach, seated on a chair on the bench, looked astonished and asked what he had done.
The referee pointed to the sideline marker and said, “you’ve got your feet on the floor.”
Osborne calmly asked the ref what he expected him to do with his feet. “If I sit on this bench, my feet are on the floor,” he illustrated.
The official turned away without responding and gave Duval their technical free throws. Osborne coached the remainder of the game sitting sideways to avoid putting his feet on the playing surface.
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What memories this time of year holds for those of us old enough to remember the days when the West Virginia Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (WVIAC) tournament was THE place to be in late February.
Those were the days before a casual fan could sit back with his remote control and watch 40 games simultaneously on the television. Teams and coaches like Fairmont State and Joe Retton thrilled thousands of fans with their exploits at the old Charleston Civic Center.
I even remember when it was virtually impossible to get a ticket to the tourney finals. The games were simply sold out.
Once, my dad and I drove the three hours to Charleston over crooked roads from Gilmer County, hoping to see Glenville State play in the tourney championship game. Arriving at the ticket window, we were advised that the game was sold out.
I went to the door and had an usher page legendary Normantown High School player and coach Earl “Tex” Gainer paged. In a moment, he met us at the door and came back quickly with two tickets. We were thrilled.
Those WERE the good, old days.
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By the way, I’m told that legendary Logan Coach Willie Akers is vastly improved after his surgery at Charleston Area Medical Center’s General Division. There is doubt, though, that he will be able to attend the one-hundredth anniversary session of the state boys basketball tournament in a few days.
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Isn’t it amazing what a few losses will do for the savior of a college basketball program?
Although I’m confident John Beilien was likely the best coach West Virginia University has had since Fred Schaus, some misguided souls believe all the hoopla associated with current Coach Bob Huggins.
While I will concede that Huggins is an outstanding coach, I suspect season number one in the Big 12 is proving to Mountaineer fans that he is not really the man to lead them out of the proverbial wilderness. Huggins is no Moses by any means.
WVU fans have idolized Huggins and buy into his and WVU apologists stories about what a “true Mountaineer” he is. I have even heard Huggins’ voice break as he tells Mountaineer donors about how he got teary-eyed every tme he crossed back into West Virginia after leaving the state for greener coaching pastures years ago.
Huggins is convincing with the story and so are the lowly, inflicted WVU fans who buy into the horse manure.
Huggins and his buddies conveniently forget that he consistently told the Morgantown school to take a hike until he was charged with DUI and lost his prestigious job at the University of Cincinnati.
True West Virginian, my eye! Bobby Pruett is a true West Virginian but Huggins is a hustler in addition to being a very good coach.
Anyway, now that things in Morgantown have fallen on hard times, WVU fans are suddenly concerned abouyt their coach’s propensity to use vulgar language and drink … what shall we say, a little more than socially.
The fact that the infamous “f” word seemed to flow from Huggins’ lips about every half-minute of a game, nobody minded when he was promising national titles. Now, though, the little church ladies are offended by his language and have told the adminiostration so.
His cursing and drinking have even been discussed on statewide sports talk shows.
The next thing you know, someone will discover why he really came to Morgantown.