CHAPMANVILLE — When Mark Hatcher resigned recently as the Logan High School boys’ basketball coach, it started a chain reaction.
As early as late April, Hatcher was expected to resign his post as the Wildcats’ mentor and start a coaching carousel in southern West Virginia.
His dad, Allan Hatcher, the Chapmanville Regional High School coach, was expected to be his replacement at Logan.
Then, in the projected pattern, Mingo Central coach Brad Napier was expected to resign his position and be Allan Hatcher’s replacement at Chapmanville.
It all held true as the final piece of the puzzle went into place on Thursday with Napier’s hiring at Chapmanville at the Logan County Board of Education meeting. He handed in his resignation just recently at MCHS.
Napier was the head basketball coach at Mingo Central the last three years and led the Miners to the school’s first-ever state tournament berth this season.
Napier, also a former longtime assistant coach under Mark Hatcher at Logan, is a Harts native and comes back home to his “home school” at CRHS, a school in which most Harts students attend.
Upon Napier’s resignation at Mingo Central, he was replaced by Tug Valley High School’s Garland Thompson. Edwyn May then was hired to replace Thompson at Tug Valley.
With Napier’s hiring, everything is now in place for the upcoming 2015-16 basketball season.
All the positions are now filled.
Napier said he’s happy to be a Chapmanville Tiger and come back home.
“I think that its a good opportunity and an opportunity to be back with a lot of friends and family,” Napier said in an interview with The Logan Banner on Friday afternoon. “My son with be also going to Chapmanville, not this year, but the coming year. That will be a good thing I think. Being at Chapmanville will be a good situation.”
Having a chance to come back home was a major draw for Napier.
“I have a lot of family that goes to Chapmanville right now,” he said. “I have a lot of connections. It should be an exciting time.”
With some of the three-week summer practice period left, Napier said he’s ready to go right to work with his new team.
“We’re going to go jump in on Monday and work with the kids,” he said. “The third week is usually the toughest because a lot of people are on vacation on up to the Fourth of July weekend. It will be tough getting everybody there but we’re going to jump in and see what we can get accomplished this week and try to do as much as we can do.”
Last season, Chapmanville had a good season but were upended 46-43 by sub-.500 team Wayne in a shocking upset in the Class AA sectional tourney at Logan. The Tigers closed out 12-9 and it would end up being Coach Hatcher’s last game at the CRHS helm.
Chapmanville finished fourth in the eight-team Cardinal Conference and were led by the backcourt tandem of senior Josh Butcher and freshman Drew Williamson. Butcher was fifth in the league in scoring at 16 points per game. Williamson was seventh at 14.9.
Butcher will be lost to graduation, however, along with 6-2 forward Zac Casto.
Williamson, a 6-foot-2 guard, will be back for his sophomore season. Ben Eke, a 6-8 forward, averaged 10.6 points per game last year for the Tigers.
Several other players will be back for Chapmanville this upcoming season, including guard Kyle Browning and post players Jordan Whitt, a 6-3 rising senior, and Hunter Neil, a 6-7 rising junior. Tyler Moore, a 6-5 rising junior, gives the Tigers even more punch inside.
The cupboard certainly will not be bare when Napier takes the reigns.
“I’ve known a lot of the players since they were little,” Napier said. “I know Kyle Browning and Drew Williamson, who, of course, is Andy Paul’s son. They are sort of family to me. Andy is also my cousin also. I’ve watched those kids all grow up. Some of the other players from Harts I know very well and know their families. The kids from Chapmanville I don’t know as well. I know Hunter Neil and a few more. But you never know what you are going to have until you get to work with them a couple of weeks and see what your weaknesses are and see what your strengths are. We’ll just go from there.”
Napier said he will also be assembling his coaching staff pretty soon.
“We’re probably going to sit down in the next week, see what we can come up with and get that finalized,” he said.
Napier said he would love to get a chance to get the Tigers back in the state tournament. Coach Hatcher led Chapmanville to a 20-6 season and state tourney berth two years ago. Chapmanville lost 63-34 to Bluefield in the 2014 state quarterfinals.
“The foundation is good here,” Napier said. “We’re going to try and build on that. We’re going to run a totally different style, though, than what Allan did. He ran a more slow down offense where you would run your half court sets. With me, it will be more pressure defense and a little bit more freedom offensively. The fundamentals are the same. Basketball is basketball. You still have to run, shoot, pass and dribble. It will be different for the players I think but in the end we want the same results. We want to win.”
Under Napier this past season, Mingo Central went 16-9 and fell 59-44 to Fairmont Senior in the first round of the Class AA state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Miners beat Wayne 66-51 in the sectional championship game, then advanced to state for the first time ever with a 41-37 victory over Sissonville in the regional tournament.
Mingo Central was 12-13 under Napier in the 2013-14 season and 13-10 in the 2012-13 season, giving him an overall mark of 41-32 as the head coach of the Miners.
Last year, the Miners were led by 6-7 Dikembe Dixson, who led the Cardinal Conference in scoring at 20.7 points per game. Dalton Hatfield (14.8), Montrell Dixson (13.7) and others were also key to Mingo Central’s state tournament run.
Napier, who lives in the Logan area, said he is grateful for his time up on the mountain at Mingo Central.
“It was a great three years,” he said. “It was really a hard decision for me to leave other there. Those were kids that I coached for two or three years. We really developed a great relationship with them. The parents were also great other there and the fans were really supportive of the program. Everything seemed to go very smoothly over there. It was a tough decision to leave. But with the drive and the time away from family just kind of wore on me. Those were deciding factors in me leaving really. It was a great experience and Mingo Central is a special place. I’m sure that they are going to have a bright future moving forward.”
Napier said despite the loss in the state tournament, it was a great experience to take Mingo Central to the Big Dance.
“It was great and I was really happy for the kids that they got to experience that,” he said. “Going to the state tournament meant a lot when I was an assistant coach at Logan and as a player at Harts. It’s a special thing to play there in the state tournament and with all of the things that go along with that. The week leading up to it is always great. There’s a lot of excitement around the community. I was really happy for the kids.”