The realignment of the Class AA sectional in this region will make for an interesting basketball tournament in 2017.
The Logan Wildcats, with new coach Zach Green, have dropped back to Class AA. This will put the Cats in the same sectional with Mingo Central, Chapmanville and Scott – which makes for a very attention-grabbing rivalry.
Throw in Lincoln County and Man and you have a tough 6-team sectional. Lincoln County is a consolidation of the old Duval, Hamlin, Harts and Guyan Valley High Schools. Man, which has been Class A the past few seasons, moves back up to AA. (In years past, Man, Logan and Williamson had one of the most competitive 3-team Triple A sectionals in the Mountain State.)
The blue and yellow of Logan and the maroon clad Williamson Wolfpack arguably had the best basketball rivalry in the state, with many classic games. Fans can recall how the Williamson and Logan Fieldhouses would be packed to the rafters with crazed fans. More than 4,000 fans would cram into the two arenas to witness these games. Fans would line up at 5 p.m. trying to get a ticket to the games.
That was before the Wolfpack had to drop down to Class A because of a huge drop in enrollment and before the eventual consolidation that gobbled up Williamson into Mingo Central, combining them with Burch, Matewan and Gilbert.
Logan has also had a storied and heated rivalry with Chapmanville, which is located just a few miles up Corridor G from Logan.
Logan will also join the revamped Cardinal Conference, which will see these teams play each other twice during the regular season.
The Wildcats and Miners have not faced each other on the hardwood since Mingo Central was formed, however they have played on the gridiron and baseball diamonds.
This reconfiguration should make for some exciting games during the regular season conference play and as they head into the sectional tournaments.
Mingo Central will also have a first year head coach in Kevin Hatfield. Brad Napier, who was the head coach at Mingo Central and former assistant coach at Logan, is now the head mentor for Chapmanville. That adds a little more spice to the rivalries. Scott is coached by Nick Cabell, who has produced some solid basketball teams in the last several years.
In the past few seasons, the AA sectionals have been played at the neutral Willie Akers Arena (Logan Memorial Fieldhouse). But now that the Cats are in the same sectional, that venue will not be a neutral court.
The next closest facility that makes sense would be the Williamson Fieldhouse. But of course the coaches will have to vote on that and Scott and Lincoln County will have a say in that decision.
It would be nice to see the Williamson Fieldhouse hosting such a great event like in past years. If the local Fieldhouse is not agreed upon as a site for the tournament, another option would be to let the schools with the highest seed in the tourney host the games at their home gymnasiums.
This is something that Tug Valley has gotten to do in its Class A sectional and regional the past few seasons. However, some coaches don’t like the idea of schools getting to host tourney games on their home courts. I agree with that conclusion. But of course, I don’t have a vote.
Regardless of where the sectional will be played, it is sure to be a week of some great basketball contests among some of the region’s best teams.
The new rivalries could bring us a little blast from the past. Although they might not be the same as those old Williamson-Logan matches, which had the feel of Romans watching the gladiators – there should be some entertaining hoops for local basketball fans.
(Kyle Lovern is the Managing Editor for the Civitas Media Mountain District including the Williamson Daily News and Logan Banner. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern.)