CHAPMANVILLE — They were overachievers.
They really were.
That’s what you could call last year’s youthful Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball team, which were a surprise by capturing sectional and regional championships.
The Tigers advanced all the way to the Class AA state tournament where the Tigers lost a narrow 30-28 slowdown game to the defending state champion Poca Dots at the Charleston Civic Center to close out the season 17-9.
It may only be June but basketball was in the air on Monday at Chapmanville’s Danny Godby Gymnasium.
Tigers’ second-year coach Brad Napier was hosting his second Little Tigers Basketball Camp and was later in the day headed to Pikeville (Ky.) to take his cagers to a team camp at the University of Pikeville.
Even with basketball season still six months away, the Tigers are excited about the team’s chances of having another outstanding season and grabbing the school’s third state tournament berth in four years.
Four starters are back, including: 6-foot-3 rising junior guard Drew Williamson (19.6 ppg.); 5-10 junior guard Dylan Smith (10.3); 5-9 junior guard Kyle Browning (9.1); and 6-7 senior center Hunter Neil (9.8), who came on strong for Chapmanville in the last half of the season.
Top reserve Tyler Moore, a 6-5 rising senior forward, who came off the bench for part of the season and averaged 8.1 points per contest, will also be back, as well as Devin Collins (5-10 sophomore guard) and James Ellis (6-2 junior forward) who also saw some varsity time last year.
Eight other Tigers, mostly rising sophomores and juniors, will also be back.
Expectations will be much higher this season than last.
Napier said last year’s state tournament experience was a great boost to the program even with the heartbreaking loss to the Dots.
The close game was a stunner.
Poca had beat the Tigers twice during the regular season by lopsided 51 and 23 point margins.
“It was very important to us for the simple fact that we were such a young team,” Napier said. “If we are fortunate enough to make it back over there this year the kids will already know the routine and they will be more comfortable in that kind of environment I think because when you go over there and play in the state tournament nerves can play a role in how successful or unsuccessful that you are. You could tell that last year because we didn’t start off very well against Poca. We were down eight or 10 points in the first quarter. Then we were able to regroup. Hopefully that won’t be the case next year if we can make it there.”
Only one starter, 6-3 forward Jordan Whitt (10.7 ppg.), will be lost to graduation.
“We lose just one senior and that’s why it was just so important for us to make it last year,” Napier said. “We have most of our team coming back. For a young team, just to gain that kind of experience, is very important.”
Two new players will be donning the Orange and Black of Chapmanville for the first time this coming season.
Both are expected to make an impact and make an already good Chapmanville team even better.
Those players are Braxton Goff, a 6-4 guard/forward and transfer from Logan High School, and also 6-8 Nigerian freshman Obinna Godspower.
Godspower is already making some heads spin.
He already has one of the coolest names probably in the history of West Virginia high school basketball.
Godspower towered over everyone on Monday at Chapmanville’s youth basketball camp.
Writes Next Up Recruits about Godspower, “Obinna has to be one of the best rising freshman big men in the country. He stands about 6’8 already and moves like an upperclassman. While offensively he is still raw, his coordination and ability to finish in the paint is huge. He has upside that is off the charts, unlike most kids from West Virginia. He will enroll at Chapmanville in the fall and feature on a team that could be one of the very best in the state, regardless of class.”
Goff, with his versatility, will also bring a lot to the table for the Tigers.
In his days at Logan, Goff could run the point guard position, step out and knock down the 3-point shots or slash his way into the paint.
He could do it all.
Napier said he hopes to make the most out of the three-week practice period.
“It goes until the first week of July,” he said. “We’re excited and we got a lot of things planned the first two weeks. We started off with camp on Monday morning for our little kids. We’ll be leaving camp here and going to the University of Pikeville to play. We play three games on Monday over there and three games on Tuesday. We have the Marshall camp coming up on Thursday and Friday. We have a busy week this week and next week as well.”
Napier said the practice period also gives his players a chance to get to know each other better.
“It gives you a big boost and we use it to bond,” he said. “We travel a little bit and we let the players hang out some and we will be staying in some hotels. I think all of this helps you that if you are fortunate enough to make it to the state tournament all of this helps you. We’re building for future success.”
Chapmanville will be playing in a tough new Class AA sectional this season with county rivals Logan and Man as well as Lincoln County and old sectional rival holdovers Mingo Central and Scott.
The Tigers beat Scott 38-36 in last year’s sectional finals at Logan. CRHS then defeated Sissonville 57-55 at home in the regional co-final.
Logan and LCHS move down to 2A from the Triple-A ranks. Man moves up to 2A from Single-A.
Old Double-A sectional team Wayne has been shipped out to a new sectional.
Tolsia, another former sectional team, is back down to Class A ball starting this coming school year and will compete in new Single-A sectional with old rival Tug Valley.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).