By Kyle Lovern
Mingo Central heads into the Class AA, Region 4, Section 2 tourney as the No. 2 seed. The Miners are 17-5, which is the most wins in a season in the young history of the consolidated school.
First year coach Kevin Hatfield took over a team that went 2-20 last season. Former Tug Valley coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson coached the team last year, but in his defense, he didn’t have as much talent to work with.
The addition of transfer all-state performer Jeremy Dillon and freshman Drew Hatfield helped the Miners improve and have a great regular season.
Seniors Aaron Banks, Keshean Rhodes and Daniel Buchanan have played pivotal roles this season, and having transfer Canaan Fletcher for a full season has also helped.
Banks is one of those players who suffered through last season’s losses. “I’m just really excited to be in the sectional tournament and have a good opportunity to make it to state tourney my senior year,” he said. Banks started out the season as the sixth man, but ended up in a starting role and has been pivotal to the team’s success.
Rhodes and Banks have been through three head coaches in four years. He has had a solid senior season.
“We have a really good chance at going far this year with this thing. We have the players, the great coaching staff and we just need to cut down on the mental mistakes, play the defensive the way we’ve been playing, play team ball, and we could very well be a AA title contender,” Rhodes said.
Junior Jeremy Dillon, an all-state candidate, who is a 6-foot-5 guard and Division One recruit is averaging 20 ppg. He had this to say about heading into tournament play. “We’re gonna take it one game at a time. Our goal from day one is to win a state championship and nothing has changed. We plan to send these seniors off in the way they deserve.”
Key reserves Josh Reed, Wes Milam and Chase Warden have come off the bench to help at various times during the season.
Now Kevin Hatfield hopes his team can take the next step in taking the squad to the W.Va. State Tournament.
First up is the Logan Wildcats on Tuesday night in the semi-finals of the sectional tournament. The Miners defeated the Wildcats twice during the regular season, 73-59 at home, and most recently 60-52 at the Logan Memorial Fieldhouse.
The sectional game will be played at Danny Godby Gymnasium at Chapmanville with the tip-off scheduled for 8:00 p.m.