CHAPMANVILLE — There couldn’t have been any tougher an opponent for the Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball team.
The Tigers have the daunting task of taking on the No. 1-ranked and top-seeded Poca Dots (23-2) on Wednesday at 5:30 p.m. in the first round of the Class AA state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
Chapmanville (17-8) has the eighth seed after knocking off Sissonville 57-55 last week in the Class AA Region 4 co-championship game.
Poca, which went 28-0 last season and won the state title with a 57-53 win over Fairmont, escaped last week’s 20-10 slowdown win over Scott in the other Region 4 co-final.
Chapmanville lost twice to Poca this season to the tune of 94-43 and 60-37.
To the Tigers, it doesn’t matter who they play.
Chapmanville is happy to be back in the state tournament for the second time in three years and know they have to beat the best to be the best.
“When you get to the state tournament everyone is good,” CHRS first-year coach Brad Napier said. “It doesn’t really matter one way or another who you are going to play. Everybody’s got a chance and everybody’s looking to win three games over there. You are three games from the state championship.”
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 actually shot the ball very well over there at the Civic Center,” Napier said. “We had really struggled shooting the ball and that was a game where we got back into the flow shooting. Maybe we will come out and shoot the ball well.”
Chapmanville is led by 6-foot-3 sophomore guard Drew Williamson, who averaged 18.7 points per game this season. He finished third in the Cardinal Conference in scoring.
Dylan Smith (10.3) and Jordan Whitt (10.3) are the Tigers’ other top two scorers.
The Tigers also have sophomore guard Kyle Browning, who helped CRHS advance in the 38-36 win over Scott in the Class AA sectional championship game, as he sank two free throws with 0.1 seconds left.
Chapmanville’s 6-7 center Hunter Neil has also played very well of late and has contributed to the Tigers’ late season run. Tyler Moore is another key CRHS player. James Ellis is a top reserve off the bench.
Poca is led by Elijah Cuffee, who led the Cardinal Conference this season in scoring at 21 points per game. Luke Frampton was fifth in the league in scoring this season at 18.4 points per contest. Kaden Meeks (12.5 ppg.) is another key Dot player.
Conference foes Chapmanville and Poca, of course, know each other very well.
“We’re just thankful to be here,” Poca coach Allen Osborne told the Charleston Gazette-Mail. “Because Chapmanville’s a good basketball team. You get to the state tournament and everything’s new anyway. They know us and we know them, so it’s going to be a real interesting and difficult game.”
In the 51-point blowout at Chapamnville this season, the Tigers played without Williamson, who was nursing an injury. He returned for the second meeting but was held to four points as the Tigers at least made a game of it.
The big question coming into the game is this?
Will Coach Napier and the Tigers employ Scott’s slowdown tactic and try to steal one from the Dots?
No one knows and no one will say.
“I’m sure they’ll make some adjustments,” Osborne said. “And we’ll make a couple of adjustments. We’ll see what happens.”
Chapmanville’s current roster is mainly made up of young players and none saw any significant action in the 2014 state tournament game.
Coach Napier, however, has experience.
He took Mingo Central to last year’s state tourney and as a longtime Mark Hatcher assistant coach at Logan High School, went to the state tourney many times in the 2000s and early 2010s.
“I think this is the 11th state tournament where I’ve been part of a coaching staff that’s been there,” Napier told the Gazette-Mail.
In Wednesday’s other Class AA state tourney games: No. 3 Fairmont Senior (20-5) plays No. 6 Bluefield (15-7) at 9:30 a.m.; No. 2 Bridgeport (22-2) takes on No. 7 Ravenswood (17-8) at 1 p.m.; and No. 4 Wyoming East (19-4) battles with No. 5 Robert C. Byrd (19-5) in the late game at 9 p.m.
The Poca-Chapmanville winner is set to advance to play in the state semifinals on Friday at 1 p.m. against the Wyoming East/RCB winner.
The 2A state title game is set for Saturday at noon.
Final Cardinal Conference
Player, School G Pts Avg
Elijah Cuffee, Poca 24 505 21.0
Tanner Bell, Scott 24 456 19.0
Drew Williamson, Chap. 23 430 18.7
Colby Wickline, Wayne 24 443 18.5
Luke Frampton, Poca 24 442 18.4
Chance Brown, Sisson. 24 317 17.4
Matthew Justice, Hoover 23 387 16.8
Coty Jude, Tolsia 22 351 16.0
Pat Underwood, Scott 24 339 14.1
Jordan Johnson, Tolsia 22 304 13.8
Nate Samples, Sisson. 21 266 12.7
Kaden Meeks, Poca 24 299 12.5
Dalton Hatfield, MC 22 271 12.3
Seth Bowlin, Sisson. 24 286 11.9
Wes Berry, Hoover 23 262 11.4
Tyler Stroud, Tolsia 21 233 11.1
Andrew Day, Scott 22 228 10.4
Dylan Smith, Chap. 23 236 10.3
Jordan Whitt, Chap. 23 236 10.3
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
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).