Going back to Williamson and the Williamson Fieldhouse will be like stepping back in time for Allan Hatcher.
It will be one heck of a debut for Hatcher, the first-year Logan High School basketball coach, as he leads the Wildcats on Tuesday night in their 2015-16 season opener against Mingo Central at the neutral Williamson Fieldhouse.
Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Hatcher replaced his son Mark Hatcher during the off-season as the Logan coach.
Allan Hatcher, a graduate of Logan High School and a former Willie Akers assistant, coached the Williamson Wolfpack to the 1983 Class AA state championship with a 66-60 win over Northfork.
At Williamson, Hatcher coached All-American and former two-time State Player of the Year Mark Cline, who went on to star at Wake Forest University and is now in his fifth season as an assistant coach at Marshall University.
Hatcher came over to Logan from Chapmanville Regioinal High School, where he coached the Tigers the last three seasons.
Tuesday night’s game will also be the debut for new Mingo Central coach Garland “Rabbit” Thompson, who had coached the last several years at Tug Valley and led the Panthers to two state titles.
Thompson replaced Brad Napier, who left Mingo Central to become the new coach at Chapmanville following Napier’s exit.
The plot lines will be thick and a huge crowd is expected for the Wildcats-Miners clash.
Logan returns to Williamson where it played many big games against the Wolfpack back in the day. The Wildcats played at the Williamson Fieldhouse many times during its Class AA days in 2003-08, often winning sectional and regional titles there.
Hatcher said he’s looking forward to the game, which was added late to the schedule.
“We thought that playing this game would rekindle the interest in basketball in the Williamson and Logan communities,” he said. “We’re trying to bring back the old days. We thought that if we played the game at the fieldhouse it would be a neutral site and it would create some excitement.”
Both Logan and Mingo Central are coming off successful seasons.
The Wildcats were 13-6 last season but were ousted by Spring Valley in the Class AAA sectional semifinals.
Last year’s Napier-led Miners 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. It was the first-ever state tourney appearance in basketball for Mingo Central.
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.
After opening up against the Miners, Logan is set to play Dec. 11 against Perry Central (Ky.) in the Clay County (Ky.) tournament.
Hatcher coached at Perry Central, located in Hazard, Ky., prior to coming to Chapmanville three years ago. He led Perry Central to Kentucky’s Sweet Sixteen state tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
“Perry Central is one of the places I coached over in Kentucky,” Hatcher said. “That game is a special kind of event. That is the Bobby Keith Classic. There’s about five games that day.”
New to Logan’s schedule is a home-and-home series with Princeton and a home game on Jan. 30 against prep school Mountain Mission (Va.) in Logan’s King Coal Classic tourney.
“Mountain Mission is a prep school and they have players who go 6-10, 6-8 and 6-7,” Hatcher said. “They already have a kid that has committed to West Virginia.”
Logan has one more new opponent on Jan. 21 as Johnson Central (Ky.) comes to Willie Akers Arena. The Wildcats played the Golden Eagles more than 10 years ago in their home tournament.
Johnson Central, located in Paintsville, Ky., is a 15th Regional powerhouse.
Last year, the Golden Eagles beat Lawrence County (Ky.), 67-60 in the 15th Region Championship Game, but lost 82-69 to Louisville Ballard in the state tournament.
“Johnson Central has been to the state tournament four years in a row,” Hatcher said.
Logan also has a home-and-home series with Beckley Woodrow Wilson. Last year, the Wildcats renewed the rivalry with the Flying Eagles and won both meetings, 60-56 on the road and 56-53 late in the season at home in a makeup game.
Logan also is set to take part again in the Little General Classic at the Charleston Civic Center where the Cats will take on Shady Spring.
In addition, Logan has road games at Wheeling Park and against Class AAA defending state champion and sectional rival Huntington.
Home-and-homes with 2A teams Westside and Wyoming East are also on the slate.
“We’ve loaded up this schedule but we’re excited about it,” Hatcher said. “It’s an unbelievable schedule and it’s a challenging schedule. We’ve got to get better. With this kind of schedule it’s going to demand that you get better. I think the people are going to enjoy the way that we play and the schedule that we play.”
Over the last several years, attendance at Logan home basketball games at Willie Akers Arena has seemed to drop somewhat.
“We’ve got to get the people back in our community involved and we’ve got to get the students back here and involved and get our attendance up,” Hatcher said.
(Paul Adkins is the Sports Editor of the Logan Banner. He can be reached at 304-752-6950 ext. 1730, by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner).