Will the Logan High School basketball team rebuild or reload during the 2012-13 season?
Will the Wildcats have enough to reach their ninth state tournament in the last 10 years?
Those questions will be answered in the coming months as Logan is set to tip off another high school basketball season.
Nothing will come easy this season for the undersized Wildcats, whose tallest regular player stands only 6-foot-3.
Most of Logan’s scoring from last year’s 17-9 Class AAA state tournament team has been lost to graduation, including 6-3 guard Stevie Browning, who has taken his 25 points a game average to Division II Fairmont State.
Also lost to graduation are Keaton Johnson and Matthew Greene.
Last year’s starting point guard — 6-4 Da’jon Streeter — has also bolted — not due to graduation, but to a high school in Nevada.
Logan came into the season thinking it would have at least one big man in the middle in 6-10 T.J. Tomblin. The senior, however, was reportedly injured late in the football season as he was a starting lineman for the Wildcats. Logan hopes to have him back at some point of the basketball season.
But don’t feel sorry for the Wildcats.
Logan has a team filled with versatile athletes, scorers and shooters.
Just when you think the Cats might be down they always seem to find a way to make it to Charleston.
That’s the goal for Logan.
That’s the goal every year if you don the famed Blue and Gold of the Logan Wildcats.
You just don’t hope to make it to the state tournament.
You expect to make it to the state tournament as the program has done scores of times in its long and storied history.
Logan coach Mark Hatcher, now in his 13th season as the head mentor of the Wildcats, hopes the number 13 is lucky for his team this year but knows the challenge will be great.
“This is the first time since maybe about the 2003 season that we don’t have that guy who is a predicted first-team all-stater,” said Hatcher, who has led Logan to state championships in 2005 and 2010. “I think that we have some guys that could be all-staters but they are really going to have to work for it. When you lose guys like Stevie Browning, the Jon Bevins’s, the Paul Williamson’s, the Noah Cottrill’s and Zach Green, guys that can put 25 points up on the board for you, is tough. We don’t know that we have a guy like that or not. We’ll have to wait and see.”
Hatcher said some scorers will have to step up and step up quickly.
“We probably lost 55 out of our 65 points a game,” he said. “But I think that we’ve got some really good leadership on this team. These kids are really coming together. They’ve been real close and they want to be here. The state tournament is everybody’s goal. Wins and losses will come and go but I think the state tournament is what we want to get back to.”
The Wildcats may have a chip on the shoulder and extra motivation heading into the season, which begins on Dec. 11 at home as Logan is scheduled to host Hurricane at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena.
“The other coaches in our section and our region think that we might be down a little bit this year but we still want to make it back to the state tournament,” Hatcher said.
If Logan has one true strength it is the backcourt as the Wildcats have plenty of returning talent.
Back are seniors A.J. Reynolds (6-1) and Trent Dalton (5-8), who can both play the point.
“We’re going to play a lot of guards and we will mostly play an all-guard lineup with a couple of forwards,” Hatcher said.
Another returning senior guard/forward is C.J. Williams (6-3). Chase Preston, a 5-10 sophomore guard, also could see significant playing time.
“Chase Preston has also looked good at the point,” Hatcher said.
One of Logan’s top shooters is Z. Minnick, a 5-11 sophomore shooting guard. He tallied 27 points in the Wildcats’ 79-71 preseason win at Belfry, Ky., on Nov. 24.
“Z. can put up some points and he can score,” Hatcher said. “I thought he played really well in the scrimmage at Belfry.
Cameron Sammons, a 6-0 sophomore, and Zak Miller, a 5-9 junior, are two other guards who are pressing for playing time.
“Miller had 11 points in the scrimmage and can shoot the ball for us,” Hatcher said. “He probably led us in scoring all summer long.”
Inside in the post, Logan is undersized, but have athleticism and leapers, such as Brynden “Worm” Street, a 5-11 forward who plays much bigger than his frame.
Josh Rein, a 6-2 junior forward, will also be counted on inside the paint.
“Josh is really coming on strong,” Hatcher said.
Benny Adkins (6-2 junior), Eric Burnette (6-3 senior) and Zack Hatfield (6-1 senior) are a trio of forwards who could be key pieces to the puzzle for the Wildcats this season.
“These three guys are my trio who combined for five points and 10 rebounds in our scrimmage at Belfry. That’s pretty good for that position,” Hatcher said. “We’re looking at playing about 10-12 guys a night.”
Rounding out the varsity roster are: 5-10 sophomore forward Brenton Vance; 6-1 sophomore wing Jalen Cook; 6-2 sophomore wing Ryan Miller; 6-1 sophomore forward Jeremiah Spears; 6-4 sophomore center Donny Toppings; and 6-6 junior center Michael Allen.
As always, Logan plays a very difficult schedule and this year is no exception.
The highlight to the season is Logan’s annual King Coal Classic, set for Jan. 25-26 at Willie Akers Arena. Logan is scheduled to play Belfry (Ky.) and Greenbrier East in the tourney.
The Wildcats have a home-and-home series against Class AAA team George Washington and also take on 3A Huntington, Point Pleasant, Capital, Parkersburg and Lincoln County.
Logan takes on Greenbrier East a second time on the road and also have home-and-homes against Class AA Westside and Tug Valley, last year’s 2A state champions, which have dropped down to Single-A status.
In a break from recent tradition, Logan is set to play Class AAA Winfield, instead of GW, in a late-season contest at the Charleston Civic Center on Feb. 13.
Logan has a road game against Class A state power Charleston Catholic and also hosts Berwick (Pa.) on Dec. 14 in the second game of the season. Berwick High School is coached by former Scott coach Jason Kingery. Berwick is also scheduled to play that weekend in Scott’s Coal Field Shootout.
In addition, Logan is slated to play in the George Washington tourney Dec. 21-22, facing Magnolia and St. Albans.
Logan again does not play either county rival Chapmanville or Man this season. Chapmanville is now coached by first-year mentor Allan Hatcher, Mark Hatcher’s dad, who came to Logan County from Perry Central (Ky.).
The Wildcats again face off with Cabell Midland, Spring Valley, Lincoln County and Huntington in their Class AAA sectional tourney. Logan defeated Huntington 64-45 in last year’s Class AAA sectional championship game.
Logan went on to defeat Winfield, 59-50, in the regional final at home before falling 63-50 to Martinsburg in the first round of last year’s Class AAA state tourney at the Charleston Civic Center.
Hatcher said Logan’s schedule will be a good test to his team, particularly early on.
“Our season starts out with a bang this year. Hurricane will probably be a top 10 ranked team and Berwick is a very good team as Coach Kingery will bring down his team from Pennsylvania,” he said. “We’re starting out really tough. Then we have Huntington the next week before we play Magnolia, who will probably be the preseason number one or number two team in Single-A. They have the big kid, the Winters kid, who is a three-time all-stater. Then we play St. Albans before playing at home against GW after Christmas. It’s a challenging schedule. It’s a little bit different with a couple of teams that are off the schedule now. We hope to rekindle that in a couple of years. It’s still a pretty exciting schedule.”
Also off Logan’s schedule is Mingo Central, a Class AA school now coached by former Hatcher longtime assistant coach Brad Napier.
Hatcher said the site of this year’s Class AAA sectional tourney has not yet been announced. Cabell Midland, Spring Valley, Lincoln County and Huntington are again the teams the Cats will compete against. Logan beat Huntington in last year’s sectional final.
“We’re trying to play at Marshall or at Big Sandy Arena but so far we haven’t heard where we are playing at yet,” Hatcher said.
With the departure of Napier, Hatcher’s staff has changed. Also gone is longtime assistant Rodney “Soupy” Campbell, who left with Napier to Mingo Central. Back, however, on Hatcher’s staff is Jerry Greene, who is in his fifth year. Zach Green, a former Logan all-state player, is also back along with Wes Hatcher.
“Our staff has changed. Soup went with Brad to Mingo Central and we wish them the best of luck,” Coach Hatcher said. “They’ve been great and they made some really good things happen here and I will always appreciate everything that they’ve done.”
2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Schedule
Dec. 11: Hurricane, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 14: Berwick, Pa., 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 20: Huntington, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 21: vs. Magnolia (at George Wash. Tournament), 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 22: vs. St. Albans (at George Wash. Tournament), 6:30 p.m.
Dec. 28: George Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 5: at Charleston Catholic, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 8: at Greenbrier East, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 11: Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 12: at Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 15: at Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 22: Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 25: Belfry, Ky. (King Coal Classic at Logan), 8 p.m.
Jan. 26: Greenbrier East (King Coal Classic at Logan), 8 p.m.
Feb. 5: Lincoln County, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 8: Point Pleasant, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 9: at Westside, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 12: at Parkersburg, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 13: vs. Winfield (at Charleston Civic Center), 8 p.m.
Feb. 16: at Tug Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 19: at George Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Feb. 21: Capital, 7:30 p.m.
2012-13 Boys’ Basketball Roster
No. Name HT. CLASS POS.
1 Trent Dalton 5-8 Sr. Guard
3 C.J. Williams 6-3 Sr. Wing
4 Zak Miller 5-9 Jr. Guard
5 Josh Rein 6-2 Jr. Forward
10 Chase Preston 5-10 Soph. Guard
12 Brenton Vance 5-10 Soph. Forward
13 Z. Minnick 5-11 Soph. Guard
20 Cameron Sammons 6-0 Soph. Guard
21 Brynden Street 5-11 Jr. Forward
24 A.J. Reynolds 6-1 Sr. Guard
30 Ryan Miller 6-2 Soph. Wing
32 Eric Burnette 6-3 Sr. Forward
34 Zak Hatfield 6-1 Sr. Forward
40 Jeremiah Spears 6-1 Soph. Forward
42 Benny Adkins 6-2 Jr. Forward
44 Donny Toppins 6-4 Soph. Center
50 Jalen Cook 6-1 Soph. Wing
54 Michael Allen 6-6 Jr. Center
Alex Toler 5-9 Fr. Guard
Brant Williams 5-9 Sr. Forward
Chase Burnette 5-11 Fr. Wing
Devonte Tolliver 6-0 Fr. Forward
Jacob Songer 6-3 Jr. Forward
Kareem Clansy 5-6 Fr. Guard
Khalil Murphy 6-2 Fr. Forward
HEAD COACH: Mark Hatcher
ASSISTANTS: Jerry Greene, Zach Green, Wes Hatcher