CHAPMANVILLE — A new era begins this season for the Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball team as Harts native Brad Napier takes over the helm.
Napier replaces Allan Hatcher, who left the Tigers after three seasons to coach at his alma mater Logan.
Napier, a former longtime Logan assistant coach, was head coach at Mingo Central the last three seasons, leading the Miners to a 41-32 overall mark and to last year’s Class AA state tournament.
Napier will have his work cut out this season at CRHS.
The Tigers are fielding a very young team and lost top scorer Josh Butcher (16.0 ppg) to graduation from last year’s 12-9 team. Starters Zac Casto and point guard Trey Dalton were also lost to graduation. Ben Eke, a 6-foot-8 center, transferred away from Chapmanville and bolted for Logan along with Hatcher.
The good news for the Tigers is that 6-2 sophomore guard Drew Williamson is back. Williamson, the son of former Harts High School and Marshall University standout Andy Paul Williamson, averaged 14.9 points a game last season and was seventh in the Cardinal Conference in scoring at season’s end.
Last season ended suddenly for Chapmanville as the Tigers were upset 46-43 by Wayne in the first round of the Class AA sectional tourney at Logan. CRHS was fourth place in the conference standings with an 8-5 league mark.
Chapmanville is scheduled to open the season Dec. 15 at Herbert Hoover.
The Tigers then play Dec. 19 against Bridgeport in the Hoops Classic at West Virginia State University.
The Tigers play at Mingo Central on Dec. 22 and don’t have their home opener until Dec. 28 when CRHS takes on Mount View in the annual Bob Runyon Memorial Holiday Tournament. Man takes on Pikeview in the other tourney game.
Napier said this year’s CRHS team is a work in progress but the Tigers should be able to put it all together when it counts.
“I’ve been real pleased to see what the players have put forth in practice,” he said. “We’re a little bit behind everyone else probably because everything is new and I didn’t get a chance to do that much with them this summer. We are hoping to get to where we are going to be able to compete with the top teams in the conference. We’re such a young team, though, and we really don’t have a whole lot of experience. We’re basically a freshman and sophomore dominated team. I’ve never coached a team this young before. I’m sure that we’re going to have growing pains along the way. We’re probably one of the youngest teams in the state.”
Williamson is back to lead the team this season. A top 3-point shooter, Williamson is always a threat to knock down the shots from downtown.
Also back is 6-3 senior center Jordan Whitt.
“We’re going to lean heavily on Drew as well as Jordan Whitt early on in the season,” Napier said. “They are really the only two guys with a whole lot of game experience at the varsity level. Drew’s a great shooter and a big time scorer. His defense is getting better and better and we’re really pushing him hard. He’s also doing a better job in rebounding. Jordan has expanded his game and he can play some on the perimeter more and maybe play a little wing for us.”
In the backcourt, Chapmanville also returns Kyle Browning, a 5-9 sophomore who saw some time off the bench for the Tigers last season. Dylan Smith, a 5-10 sophomore, is also back.
“They’ve been really good at practice,” Napier said of Smith and Browning. “I think those two guys are very talented. Both of them can do lots of things. Both of them have skills and can shoot and handle the ball. They are both smart. We have to get them in there and get them some experience. I think both will be really good players this year.”
Down low, Chapmanville has size with 6-7 junior forward/center Hunter Neil and 6-5 sophomore forward Tyler Moore. Both were reserves last year.
“Hunter has a great touch around the basket,” Napier said. “He’s strong and he works pretty hard. We’ve been happy with him and he’s coming along. He’s still got a lot of work to do on the defensive end but he works hard at it. He’s going to be a good scorer for us inside the paint this year. He has good hands. Tyler is a really talented player. He can shoot outside a little bit and he’s got good post moves and is pretty athletic. He plays hard. He’s big and strong.”
James Ellis, a sophomore, is also pressing for playing time.
“He worked real hard in the weight room this fall,” Napier said of Ellis. “He’s been working on developing a jump shot. James plays extremely hard and he’s going to be another player that we will rely on heavily.”
Also on the team this season is Cypriel Fidelis, a junior who nails from Nigeria.
“He’s a big, strong kid. He plays hard. He’ll probably mostly play JV this season,” Napier said.
The Tigers also have sophomores Carson Toney, Zackary Workman and Tyler Carter.
Nine freshmen are on the roster as well, including: Garrett Richard, Devin Collins, Aaron Terry, Tucker Dalton, Dakota Collins, Hunter Cook, Brennan Williams, Nicholas Eldridge and Larry Osborne.
Napier’s staff is made up of Larry Dingess, Tracy Dempsey, Rodney Campbell, Stewart Watts and Andy Paul Williamson.
“Andy Paul hasn’t been hired yet but he will as soon as he is approved by the board,” Napier said. “Three of my assistant coaches came over with me from Mingo Central.”
The Tigers’ schedule will be difficult.
Topping the list is a home-and-home series against Cardinal Conference team Poca, which won the Class AA state championship last year.
The Tigers host their own holiday tourney, play in Logan’s King Coal Classic vs. Huntington St. Joe and also take part in the Hatfield-McCoy Shootout at Williamson and the Little General Shootout vs. Wyoming East at the Charleston Civic Center.
Chapmanville also has a non-conference home-and-home series with the Class A county rival Man Hillbillies.
“We play an extremely tough schedule this year,” Napier said. “We have Bridgeport early in the season and they will be a top three team in the state with four starters back. We also play all of the Cardinal Conference teams like Poca, Mingo Central and Scott which will be really good. We also play Huntington St. Joe at the King Coal Classic in Logan. They will be a top two or three Single-A school.”
2015-16 Chapmanville Regional High School
Boys’ Basketball Schedule
Dec. 15: at Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 19: vs. Bridgeport (Hoops Classic at WVSU)
Dec. 22: at Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 28: Mount View (Bob Runyon Memorial Holiday Tournament), 9 p.m.
Dec. 29: vs. Man or Pikeview (Bob Runyon Memorial Holiday Tournament), TBA
Jan. 2: Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: Poca, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12: Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15: Man, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 16: vs. TBA (Hatfield-McCoy Shootout, Williamson), TBA
Jan. 19: Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: at Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 26: Herbert Hoover, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 28: at Tolsia, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 30: vs. Huntington St. Joe (King Coal Classic at Logan), 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 2: at Poca, 7 p.m.
Feb. 5: at Scott, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9: vs. Wyoming East (at Charleston Civic Center), 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12: Mingo Central, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 16: at Sissonville, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 19: Wayne, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 23: at Man, 7:30 p.m.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).