LOGAN, W.Va. — Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena has been like a home away from home for the Chapmanville Regional basketball team.
The Class AA No. 4-ranked Tigers wrapped up their second straight state tournament berth and third in the last four years with Wednesday night’s 65-44 victory over Winfield before a nearly packed crowd at LHS.
The game wasn’t even supposed to be played there.
A power outage earlier in the day in Chapmanville forced the moving of the game to Logan. Crews worked on restoring power to CRHS but could not guarantee it to be done by tipoff.
So CRHS Athletics Director George Barker got on the phone and spoke with Logan High School officials about moving the game there.
It all worked out in the end for the Tigers, which improved to 4-0 this season on the Logan floor.
Chapmanville had defeated Lincoln County (69-37) and Mingo Central (62-37) at Logan during the sectionals and earlier in the season had defeated the hometown Wildcats (67-60).
The Tigers (21-4), winners of 16 out of their last 17 games, head to next week’s Class AA state tournament with confidence and increasing swagger. Chapmanville received the No. 3 seed and are scheduled to take on No. 6 seed Wyoming East (15-10) next Thursday, March 17 at 9:30 a.m. in one of the four state quarterfinals at the Charleston Civic Center.
Wednesday night’s game was in doubt for a while, however.
Winfield (15-10) led 16-15 after one quarter and trailed the Tigers only 24-20 at the half.
Chapmanville then found its groove in the third quarter, outscoring the Generals 20-10 to take command of the game with a 44-30 lead.
It was all Tigers the rest of the way.
CRHS went 2-0 this season against Winfield, also taking a 66-55 early season encounter with the Generals.
The Tigers look to be clicking on all cyliders and should be a tough team to beat in Charleston.
Chapmanville is looking for its first ever win in the state tournament. Last year, the Tigers lost a 30-28 slowdown heartbreaker to the Poca Dots in last year’s quarterfinals. Back in 2014, the Tigers were routed by Bluefield, 63-34, in the opening round.
No longer are the Tigers just happy to be there.
They want to make a deep run in the state tournament.
“When you win a bunch of games the more you are expected to win,” Chapmanville second-year coach Brad Napier said. “Our guys have embraced that and that’s the way they want it. They expect to win every game now. I don’t know if that was the case last year, especially early in the season. Our guys are playing with a lot of confidence.”
Coach Napier is no stranger when it comes to the state tournament.
This will be his third trip to state as a head coach. A few years ago he led Mingo Central to its first-ever trip to the state tournament. Back in the day as a Mark Hatcher assistant coach at Logan High School, he also helped lead the Wildcats to the Big Dance.
Napier’s Tigers, however, were slow out of the gate in Wednesday’s game as Winfield hung around to make a game of it.
“We struggled in the first half. We didn’t do a very good job in running the offense in the first half,” Napier said. “We were just a little bit impatient. Winfield did a great job of shutting us down. We talked to them at halftime and told them that they just needed to calm down and then we would get what we wanted. I thought they did a good job at doing that. They were much more patient in the second half and we got much better shots. In the first half we only had one assist but we had a lot in the second half. I was real happy with the way they closed the game.”
Junior guard Drew Williamson led Chapmanville with a 24-point effort.
Chapmanville had 11 steals in the game with many turning into easy baskets. Kyle Browning had five steals on the night.
Obinna Killen finished with a double-double with 10 points and 13 rebounds to go along with his five blocked shots.
Dylan Smith chipped in with seven points. Williamson also had five boards.
Winfield was led by Braeden McGrew’s 20 points and four 3-pointers. Andrew Huff had 16 points and five boards.
Chapmanville began to pull away in the third quarter.
After a Smith layup, a Killen inside bucket and a 3 by Smith the Tigers led 31-21 — its largest lead of the night.
Tyler Moore then came off the bench to hit a pair of jump shots, helping the Tigers continue to gain the upperhand on the Generals.
Moore came off a pick-and-roll and netted a 17-footer at the top of the key to make it 33-23 Tigers.
Then after a pair of Killen free throws, Moore drained a top-side 18-footer as CRHS expanded the lead to 37-23.
Williamson then drove to the lane for a hoop and followed with a big 3-pointer as Chapmanville led 42-25 with 55 ticks to go in the third quarter.
“We had some guys step up tonight like Tyler Moore,” Napier said. “He was huge. He started our run in the third quarter. He hit those two jumpers and you could see the momentum switch to our side. The fans got involved. It was all uphill from there.”
Williamson said it took awhile for the Tigers to get on track.
“Tonight, we started out slow. It was just a four-point game at the half,” he said. “It’s going to take some extra effort at state and we’re going to try to put it all together.”
Up 44-30 after three, the Tigers went on a 7-0 run in the fourth to make it 51-30 with 6:17 left. Devin Collins finished off the run with a 3-pointer, forcing Winfield to call timeout.
Chapmanville then put the Generals away.
Williamson hit another 3 to increase the lead to 54-34 with 4:22 to go.
Browning nailed a 3 of his own and Neil then put the finishing touches on Chapmanville’s win as he rocked the rim with a two-handed slam dunk with 2:56 remaining to put the Tigers on top 59-37.
Winfield made just 33 percent of its second half shots and seemed to have trouble working the ball inside against the taller Tigers, including 6-7 Neil, 6-8 Killen and 6-5 Moore.
“I thought we started the game moving real well and the guys were aggressive,’’ Winfield coach Bryan England told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “But we had too many turnovers, and Chapmanville’s a real good team. When you’re playing somebody like Chapmanville that has all the pieces, you’ve just got to play darn near perfect. It was tough,’’ England said. “Huff is 6-2 and he’s going against 6-8 guys and still taking it right at them – very tough kid. Proud of my guys because they didn’t give up and kept fighting. They got to experience something here in the regional final that a lot of teams around the state didn’t get to experience.’’
Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner.