The Chapmanville Tigers have been playing boys’ basketball for more than 70 years.
Not once have they ever played in the state tournament.
That could change soon.
Chapmanville Regional High School advanced to next week’s Class AA Region 4 co-championship game against Nicholas County with Friday night’s dramatic 54-53 win over rival Scott in the sectional championship game at Logan’s Willie Akers Arena.
The win moves the Tigers one step closer to the Charleston Civic Center and the 101st state tournament, set for March 18-22.
It was not just a big step for the Chapmanville basketball program.
It was a giant leap.
Not only will No. 9-ranked Chapmanville (19-5) host beatable Nicholas County (14-10) this week for the right to play at state, the Tigers also avoided the dreaded trip to Poca.
That’s now Scott’s problem.
With the loss to Chapmanville, Scott (16-7) must now travel to No. 2-ranked Poca (23-1) this coming Thursday night in the other regional co-final. The Dots easy beat Nicholas County 82-47 in Friday night’s other sectional championship game.
The path to Charleston is much easier for the Tigers.
Now they have to take care of business.
If they can do that they will get to experience history in the making.
TigerTown will be rocking this week for perhaps the biggest basketball game, not only in CRHS history, but in Chapmanville Tigers’ basketball history.
“This is a big win and it is the first time Chapmanville has ever had a chance to go to the state tournament on their home court,” Chapmanville second-year coach Allan Hatcher said. “We have a tremendous opportunity on our home court. This is the first time we have hosted for the state tournament. We’re not in the state tournament yet. We have a chance and an opportunity so we need to take advantage of. I’m excited about that opportunity.”
Chapmanville and Nicholas County are set for a 7 p.m. tip off next Thursday.
Chapmanville Regional’s Danny Godby Gymnasium will most likely be filled to and beyond its 1,800-seat capacity.
Everyone will want to see this one.
“We have an opportunity and we need to take advantage of it,” Hatcher said. “If we don’t take advantage of this it’s our own fault. I’ve learned real quick that you have to take care of those opportunties when they are before you. We need every person in the community of Chapmanville to be there next Thursday night at 7 o’clock to support our team.”
At seven o’clock?
With the anticipation and build up and with the historical nature of Thursday night’s game, the CRHS gym and parking lot could be filling up at 5.
“We need them there at 5 o’clock,” Hatcher said. “We need every person from the community of Chapmanville to be in that gym.”
Friday night’s Class AA sectional championship was the first for Chapmanville since 2006. The then Dave Elkins coached Tigers won 63-51 over Scott on the same Logan High School basketball floor to advance to regional play.
Then, just like many times in the past, the Tigers would fall in the regional championship game to then Class AA Logan, 88-61, at the Williamson Fieldhouse.
The pattern has repeated itself over and over and has become the old Chapmanville Tiger basketball bugaboo: Good enough to win a section but not good enough to make it to state.
In 2010 under then first-year head coach Harry Kirk, the Tigers were close again but did not make it. That year, Chapmanville lost 63-53 to Sissonville in the Class AA regional final at Riverside High School in a battle of two teams that had shared the Cardinal Conference championship.
It was another setback for Tiger basketball.
Back in the Danny Godby era, the Tigers were very successful but would often lose to Tug Valley in the regional final.
In fact, the Panthers took out the Tigers four straight years from 1999-2002 in the regional final, leaving Chapmanville one game short of Charleston. Godby then stepped down as head coach and Elkins came in in 2003.
Chapmanville went just 10-13 under Elkins in the 2002-03 season but beat Scott 61-59 in the sectional championship game at Williamson.
And who would the Tigers get in the regional title game?
It would be a fifth straight defeat to the Panthers in the regional championship game.
Two years later, Chapmanville won the sectional championship again under Elkins, taking a 64-53 victory over Scott in the finals which were played at Logan.
The Tigers then drew arch-rival Logan in the regional final. The Wildcats, which were a Class AA school from 2003-08, had to claw its way to a 49-38 victory over Chapmanville in the regional championship game and left the Tigers short of the state tournament once again.
The pattern repeated itself yet again in the 2005-06 season. Chapmanville beat Scott in the sectional finals but lost to Logan in the regionals.
The Tigers were one game short of state.
Chapmanville hopes to change that this week with a victory over the Grizzlies.
The Tigers know Nicholas County is no pushover but Chapmanville will undoubtedly go into the game as the prohibitive favorites.
Chapmanville Tigers’ basketball dates back to the 1940s but the Orange and Black have not had any state tournament berths.
With all of the talent over the years, that still seems hard to believe.
Chapmanville might possibily be one the state’s most snake-bitten and tough luck programs.
A trip to Charleston could be in the cards this time.
Hatcher said everyone has been cheering for this year’s team to make it there.
“I’ve been able to be good friends with the former coaches at Chapmanville High School,” Hatcher said. “They have been cheering for us all year along. Ted Ellis, Danny Godby, David Elkins and Harry Kirk have been behind this team all season long. Hopefully if we can make it to the state tournament, they will be a part of this, too. Chapmanville has had some really good basketball coaches and I have a lot of respect for those guys. Hopefully, if we can get this done, they will be a part of this also.”
Hatcher has the experience and know-how to get teams to the state tournament.
He has proven it time and time again.
As the former head coach at Williamson High School, Hatcher led the Wolfpack once to a state championship. He also coached a handful of other teams in Kentucky, most recently Perry Central, to the state tournament in the Bluegrass State.
In a preseason interview with the Logan Banner, Hatcher said his team’s goal was to host a game in the regional tourney.
That has come true.
This is what he said back in November: “There’s been some really good coaches here and they have been awfully close and they have had great teams but haven’t got the breaks. Chapmanville has never played a game at home to have a chance to go to the state tournament. We’ve never had that opportunity but our goal is to have that chance in the regional finals. On our T-shirts this year it says, ‘Chapmanville Regional High School making history.’ That is our motto this year. That’s our goal. To make it to state.”
Hatcher’s Tigers are very close to making it.
Chapmanville must now take care of Nicholas County.
The Tigers and the Grizzlies last played each other a season ago. The two teams split. Despite the 14-10 record, Nicholas County is said to have a pretty good basketball team.
“Now, with that said, we still have got a lot of work to do. We play a Nicholas County team that has almost all of their team back from last year. Poca beat them pretty good but Poca has beaten everyone like that. We have got to get ready this weekend and we’re going to have to find out as much as we can about Nicholas County. We played them twice last year and split.”