The good thing about Logan’s basketball schedule is this.
Come March, the Wildcats will be a battle-tested team.
Just as Logan High School basketball coach Allan Hatcher said in the preseason, there are no gimmies this time.
Not this season.
It doesn’t get any easier for the Wildcats this weekend as Logan is scheduled to host the annual King Coal Classic basketball tournament — the yearly highlight of Logan’s basketball season.
The Wildcats (5-7) are slated to host Class AA Wyoming East (7-2) on Friday at 8:30 p.m. at Willie Akers Arena and then have one of their biggest challenges in school history on Saturday night as Logan is matched up against prep school Mountain Mission (18-6) of Grundy, Va., a team with NBA-like size.
Logan was scheduled to return to the hardwood on Tuesday night at home with a home makeup game against another prep school — Wesley Christian (25-8) — a team based in Allen, Ky.
“We’re real excited to play this weekend. There’s going to be some great games this weekend at the field house,” Hatcher said. “We hope that a lot of people come out to see the games. Mountain Mission is a prep school and they are really good. They have a player (Maciej Bender), who is going to be playing at WVU. That will give the fans a chance to see him play.”
Mountain Mission is made up mostly of foreign players from across the world. The Challengers have dominated all season and have rarely been challenged. One of the team’s losses was back on Nov. 17 to famed Oak Hill Academy (Va.) in a 72-56 setback.
Mountain Mission is probably the tallest team tradition-rich Logan has ever faced.
Just check this out.
On the Challengers’ roster are: Florent Thamba (6-9); Jakub Mijakowski (6-7); Dmytro Zmor (6-8); Maciej Bender (6-11); Jethro Tshisumpa (6-10); and Oscar Tshiewbe (6-8). Bender has already committed to play at West Virginia.
Tshisumpa, who is from The Congo and has committed to Arizona State, has been rated by ESPN as one of the top 100 players in the country.
The Challengers also have 6-3 point guard Szymon Walczak, who hails from Poland, and 6-6 forward Harold Baruti, who leads the team’s balanced scoring at 11.8 points per contest.
Bender averages 10.6 points and 7.0 rebounds a game.
With such a tall team, Mountain Mission averages 5.4 blocked shots per contest.
Mountain Mission is ranked 98th overall in the nation and No. 3 in Virginia according to MaxPreps.
The Challengers most recently played last Monday with a 58-49 win over Springboro (Ohio). Mountain Mission won 77-42 on Jan. 9 at Charlotte United Christian Academy (N.C.) and fell 57-41 on Jan. 8 at Concord First Assembly Academy (N.C.).
Mountain Mission is coached by Pawel Mrozik and assisted by Kamil Pietras, Jared Miller and Justin Dempsey, a former high school player at Chapmanville and Harts high schools.
“Mountain Mission is going to be a tremendous challenge for us this weekend but the kids are looking forward to it and the tournament,” Hatcher said.
Wyoming East, a team on a seven-game winning streak, will also be tough to handle.
Logan and East had many battles in the Cats’ previous run as a Double-A school.
In 2008, the Warriors beat Logan 82-61 in the Class AA state semifinals at the Charleston Civic Center.
Back in 2007, East toppled Logan 61-49 in the Class AA state championship game.
“Wyoming East will also be tough. They have won seven straight games and they have a real good team. They could be playing in the state tournament. We will definitely have our work cut out this weekend. The kids are excited, though, to play in this tournament,” Hatcher said.
The Warriors have been filling it up this winter.
Wyoming East, coached by Rory Chapman, broke over the century mark recently in a 111-54 win over Summers County in a game the Warriors torched the nets for 77 first-half points — a school record.
Jon Sims, Logan Blankenship and Cody Lester combined for six threes as the Warriors built a 22-5 lead. Blankenship led six Warriors in double digits with 23. Lester and Dyland Brehm each had 15.
The King Coal Classic features seven games, beginning with Friday’s contest between Chapmanville and Huntington St. Joe at 5:30 p.m. Ravenswood plays Tug Valley at 7 and Logan takes on Wyoming East in the nightcap.
Four games are then on tap for Saturday. The Logan Middle School boys play Ceredo-Kenova at 4, Ravenswood takes on Westside at 5:30 p.m., the Logan girls play Buchannon Upshur at 7 and then the Logan boys play the Challengers in the final game.
King Coal Classic
At Logan High School
Willie Akers Arena
Friday, Jan. 29 games:
Huntington St. Joe vs. Chapmanville, 5:30 p.m.
Ravenswood vs. Tug Valley, 7 p.m.
Logan vs. Wyoming East, 8:30 p.m.
Saturday, Jan. 30 games:
Logan Middle School vs. Ceredo Kenova, 4 p.m.
Ravenswood vs Westside, 5:30 p.m.
Logan vs Buchannon Upshur (Girls), 7 p.m.
Logan vs Mountain Mission (Va.), 8:30 p.m.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).