CHAPMANVILLE, W.Va. — The Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball team will have their hands full on Saturday night.
Prep powerhouse Mountain Mission (Va.) comes to Tiger Town for a 7:30 p.m. game in the Chapmanville opener.
Mountain Mission, which produced current West Virginia University freshman Maciej Bender, a 6-foot-10 center from Poland, comes into the game with a 2-4 mark but the Challengers are a much better team than that.
Mountain Mission came to Logan County last year and destroyed the Logan Wildcats, 77-31, at Willie Akers Arena.
The Challengers are led by 6-9 forward/center Oscar Tshiewbe, rated as one of the top players in the nation. Tshiewbe has reportedly been offered a scholarship by WVU.
“We’re real excited to get started,” Napier said. “We’re ready to play some games. Mountain Mission will be a very tough opener. They have Oscar and he’s like the number 32-ranked player in the nation. West Virginia has made an offer to him early. He’s a junior. He’s probably their best player. It should be a challenge for us but we’ll see how it plays out.”
Tshiewbe, rated as the 35th-best player in the nation, possesses power and can rebound and block shots. He’s been in the United States for about a year.
Last year, Mountain Mission put six players into Division I schools, including Arizona State, West Virginia, Washington, Utah State, Pacific and Pennsylvania.
According to Phenom Hoop Report, the Challengers are revamped with more high major prospects and talent across the board. Many of the Mountain Mission players are foreign born and some are from war-torn and impoverished areas.
Mountain Mission also has 6-8 point guard Daniil Kasatkin, an import from Russia. Kasatkin is a typical European-style big man, having great hands and a good touch with the ball.
The Challengers have added size in the paint with 6-11 center Florent Thamba.
Overall, the Tigers’ schedule is difficult.
“This schedule is not easy,” Napier said. “But we don’t want it to be easy for our guys. It’s not going to be easy when it comes to sectional time. Our record may not be be the best in the state when it comes to the end of the year but I want our guys to be battle-tested and I want them to play top-level competition. I don’t think that it does us much good to go out and beat teams by 40 or 50 points. We scheduled the toughest games that we could possibly schedule.”
After opening up with Mountain Mission CRHS plays at Winfield next Tuesday in the Tigers’ Cardinal Conference opener.
Chapmanville then plays Class AA preseason No. 1-ranked Fairmont Senior on Dec. 16 in the Big Ten/Cardinal Conference Shootout at Robert C. Byrd High School.
“We got those three games to start out and it doesn’t get any easier,” Napier said. “Our holiday tournament will be tough with Mount View and Pikeview and those two teams are going to be pretty tough this year.”
Following the Fairmont game, CRHS hosts its annual Bob Runyon Memorial Holiday Tournament Dec. 22-23, then head to Daytona Beach, Fla., Dec. 27-29 to take part in the Daytona Beach Classic.
“Then we go to Florida,” Napier said. “Our first game in Florida we play Woodstock, Georgia. They have about 3,000 kids in their school. Our schedule is made to make our guys tough. I hope that people don’t look at the wins and losses but rather who we play and how we play them. I expect, however, that we will be able to compete against every team we play.”
If Chapmanville beats Woodstock (Ga.) in in the Daytona tourney opener, the Tigers would then take on Atlantic (Fla.), a team that went 28-2 last season, Napier said.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).