CHAPMANVILLE — The Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball team knows the task will be difficult.
The No. 8-seeded Tigers (17-8) are scheduled to meet No. 1-ranked and top seed Poca (23-2), the defending Class AA state champs, on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the 2A state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Dots, which advanced with a slowdown 20-10 win last week over Scott in the Region 4 co-championship game, beat Chapmanville twice this season by 94-43 and 60-37 scores.
The Tigers, though, will give it their all and are happy to be there. It’s Chapmanville’s second ever state tournament berth and the second in three years. CRHS played in the state tourney in 2014, falling 63-34 to Bluefield.
“This is great and I’m super excited,” Chapmanville’s 6-foot-7 center Hunter Neil said. “We have worked very hard for this. Every practice we have worked our hind ends off. We’re going to work our butts off at practice but I think we’ll be ready come state. We’re going to do our best.”
Lone senior Jordan Whitt said the Tigers are not going to Charleston “just to be there.”
“It feels great. It’s the best feeling in the world,” Whitt said after Chapmanville beat Sissonville 57-55 in last week’s Class AA Region 4 co-final. “It’s great to make it. I can’t explain it. It’s going to be tough but it’s going to be fun. Hopefully we can win it all.”
For leading scorer and 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Drew Williamson, it’s his first state tournament experience. His older brother Paul Williamson, led Logan High School to the Class AAA state tournament three times, including a 2010 3A state title. Drew’s dad, Andy Paul, was a standout at Harts High School before playing at Marshall.
“Oh my gosh it feels great,” Williamson said. “We’re also relieved. After last year, we had to come back because we got beat out in the first round of the sectional tournament last year. It feels great honestly. We have to work hard at practice, work on our shooting and work on running our plays better. It doesn’t matter who we play because we are hungry.”
Sophomore guard Kyle Browning said he’s also thrilled to play in the state tourney.
“I’m so excited that I can hardly stand up. I’m shaking,” Browning said after the win over Sissonville last week. “We’re excited and we can’t wait to go over there and play. We’re going to go over and play hard and try to win. We’ve been practicing hard and we’ve had no days off. We’ve had our ups and downs but we’ve put it all together at the end of the season. We’re going to give it all that we’ve got and play hard.”
Chapmanville’s Dylan Smith said some of the players have talked to 2014 team members about their state tourney experience.
“It’s my first year and we really wanted it this year,” Smith said. “We’ve really worked as hard as we can. We talked to some of the guys that went to states the last time and they were telling us what we had already been thinking that you have to give it your all.”
Chapmanville has played in the Charleston Civic Center once already this season.
That was on a snowy Feb. 9 day when the Tigers defeated Charleston Catholic 61-52 in the Little General Shootout at the Big House.
“We really have to play like we did tonight — play as a team and play great defense again,” Smith said. “We have to play hard. We shot pretty well the last time we played in the Civic Center (against Charleston Catholic). We feel really good going into this one.”
The Tigers’ Tyler Moore said Chapmanville has to limit its mistakes against the Dots.
“It’s been crazy. There’s been lots of hard work,” Moore said. “We have to play good defense and limit the turnovers.”
Class AA State Tournament Schedule
at the Charleston Civic Center
Wednesday, March 16
Game 1: 9:30 a.m. – No. 3 Fairmont Senior (20-5) vs. No. 6 Bluefield (15-7)
Game 2: 1 p.m. – No. 2 Bridgeport (22-2) vs. No. 7 Ravenswood (17-8)
Game 3: 5:30 p.m. – No. 1 Poca (23-2) vs. No. 8 Chapmanville (17-8)
Game 4: 9 p.m. – No. 4 Wyoming East (19-4) vs. No. 5 Robert C. Byrd (19-5)
Friday, March 18
Game 5: 9:30 a.m. – Game 1 winner vs. Game 2 winner
Game 6: 1 p.m. – Game 3 winner vs. Game 4 winner
Saturday, March 19
12 p.m. – Class AA boys basketball state championship