CHAPMANVILLE — It’s do or die time for the Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball team.
A win over Mingo Central on Wednesday night at Logan in the Class AA sectional tournament and the Tigers are in the section finals and will automatically advance to next week’s regionals.
A loss and it’s over.
Just like that.
The No. 9-ranked Tigers (17-5) come into the sectionals as the No. 2 seed. Unranked Mingo Central (11-11) is the third seed and have lost to Chapmanville twice during the regular season by scores of 53-27 and 54-45.
The slate is clear, however, and Mingo Central, which has shown improvement in the last month-plus of the regular season with the acquisition of 6-foot-7 Kentucky transfer Dikembe Dixson, will be tough to beat.
Tipoff is set for 8 p.m. at Logan High School’s Willie Akers Arena. Game 1 on Wednesday at 6 p.m. pits No. 4 seed Wayne (12-10) against No. 1 seed and tournament favorite Scott (15-6).
The two semifinal winners advance to Friday night’s championship game at 7:30 p.m., also at Logan. Both teams will advance to the Class AA regional tournament.
Wayne advanced with last Saturday’s 63-47 victory over county rival Tolsia at Logan. The young Rebels had a disastrous season and finished with a 1-21 record.
Chapmanville is looking for its first trip to the regional tourney since 2010 when the Tigers, then coached by Harry Kirk, beat Scott (72-71) and lost to Tug Valley (72-60) in the sectional finals before falling to Sissonville (63-53) in the regional tourney at Riverside High School.
That left Chapmanville one game short of its all-elusive first-ever trip to the state tournament.
The Tigers closed out 17-8 that season.
Chapmanville was then eliminated in the sectionals in the 2011 and 2012 seasons under Kirk as the Tigers lost 71-54 to Tug Valley in ‘11 and then fell 58-43 to Tolsia in the ‘12 tourney. Chapmanville won 73-37 over Wayne in the 2012 sectional tourney play-in game. CRHS finished 13-10 in 2011 and 16-8 in 2012.
The Tigers’ luck did not improve any last season under new coach Allan Hatcher as Chapmanville saw its season come to a close at 14-10 after falling 38-35 to Tolsia in the section tourney semifinals.
The challenge and goal for this year’s Tigers is simple.
Beat Mingo Central.
Win the sectional championship on Friday night.
Then win in the regional tourney co-championship game next week and make history by becoming the first-ever boys’ basketball team from Chapmanville to qualify for the state tournament.
The Tigers have certainly been there before.
Chapmanville’s boys have fallen short of the state tourney many times, often losing in regional championship games in the 1990s and 2000s.
CRHS hopes to change that this year.
The Tigers must get past Mingo Central first.
The Miners, coached by Harts native and former Logan High School assistant coach Brad Napier, have had an up and down season but are looking to pull off a surprise win over Chapmanville tonight.
“I think Mingo Central has gotten better as the season has progressed,” Coach Hatcher said. “Their players seem to be more comfortable with the Dixson kid who moved in in the middle of the year. They have played a lot of games here in the latter part of the season.”
Senior Alex Lee and Dixson were two of the Cardinal Conference’s leading scorers this season along with Chapmanville’s 6-0 junior guard Josh Butcher, who came to CRHS this year after transferring from Riverside. He averages about 17 points a game and is a prolific 3-point shooter.
Lee is averaging about 16 per game and also pulls down about eight rebounds. Since joining the team in mid-season, Dixson is averaging about 17 per game. Dalton Hatfield scores about 10 per game.
Other top Miners include Stephen Hammond, Julius Hatcher, Mali May and Deonte Joplin.
In the first meeting between the two teams this season, Chapmanville went to Mingo Central and steamrolled the Miners 53-27, holding Mingo Central to an arctic cold 19.5 percent shooting from the floor on 8-for-41 shooting.
Chapmanville was 20-for-43 from the field for 46.5 percent and led the Miners 14-8 after one quarter, 21-13 at the half and 43-22 after three with a 22-9 edge in the third period. A 10-5 advantage by Chapmanville in the fourth quarter set the final score.
The Tigers also owned the boards, outrebounding Mingo Central 31-21.
Senior Brady Cox, who stands 6-5, led Chapmanville with 16 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Butcher tossed in 12 points, while Kenny Plumley, a 6-4 senior forward, had 11.
Plumley also blocked three shots in the game.
Point guard Trey Dalton led Chapmanville in assists with five.
Cox finished with a double-double as he also hauled down 13 rebounds. Plumley had eight boards.
Lee had 11 points to pace the Miners.
In the second game, Mingo Central brought aboard Dixson as the transfer played his second ever game with the Miners.
The game was much better but the Tigers still came out on top with a 54-45 victory over the boys in the Carolina Blue.
Dixson finished with 17 points to lead all scorers. He blocked four shots, altered several others and made his presense known on the defensive side of the court.
Chapmanville, though, seemed to negate his size advantage with the combined inside play of 6-5 Cox, 6-4 Plumley, 6-2 Zac Casto and 6-2 Jon Williamson.
The Tigers also limited Dixson’s open-court transition game and made him shoot jumpers.
It worked for Chapmanville as the Tigers won on Senior Night.
Plumley led Chapmanville with 16 points.
The Tigers also got 12 from Butcher and eight from Joe Tackett.
Dixson has been a journeyman prep basketball player. Two years ago, he played his high school ball at Ashland (Ky.) Paul Blazer. Last year, he played for Thomas Nelson High School in the Bardstown, Ky., area.
Mingo Central makes three schools in three years for Dixson.
He came to the Miners along with his 6-6 cousin, Montrell Dixson. Montrell, however, has not suited up this season reportedly due to academic issues.
The Tigers never trailed in the second meeting and led 16-12 after one quarter, 26-21 at the half and 38-32 after three.
The Miners also got 12 points from Lee.
Due to Chapmanville’s reshuffling of its schedule because of the weather and the water issues which plague teams from Boone County and the Kanawha Valley region in January, the Tigers played its last seven games on the road, going 5-2.
CRHS dropped the first two of those road games at Scott (73-67) and at Cardinal Conference champion and possible regional foe Poca (68-35) before reeling off five straight wins.
Chapmanville split with Scott this season, also taking a 57-55 win at home on Jan. 3.
Hatcher said the Tigers have improved throughout the season.
“I think our basketball team has gotten better,” he said. “We’ve been on the road the last seven games and we’ve had to play better. That’s one thing that playing on the road has done for us. We’ve had seven straight away games because of the weather situation and we had to change some things around. We’ve won five in a row now. We’re better now than we’ve been all year long and the kids are excited to play.”
The Miners may try to limit the touches and shots of Butcher, who has proven to be deadly this season when left open at the 3-point arc.
“We have three guys who are averaging in double figures,” Hatcher said. “And we have two other guys who are pretty close to that. We have a pretty balanced basketball team. Our team has been really good about sharing the ball. They are very unselfish. If they try to shut one person off we have someone else who will step up.”
Hatcher said his team is excited about the post-season.
“It’s very exciting for our team and for our community,” he said. “People are excited about this basketball game on Wednesday night. It’s a doubleheader with Wayne and Scott. Our basketball team is very excited about playing.”
The winner moves on and will be guaranteed at least two more games.
The loser will see its season come to an end.
“If you lose you go home,” Hathcer said. “There’s a lot riding on this game. Our kids know that. It will be a really good game. I have really enjoyed this group that I’ve got this year. We’re 17-5 and we’re playing our best basketball. It’s the right time to be doing that.”
Napier said the Tigers will be tough to beat.
“We had our chances to win at Chapmanville,” he said. “They killed us on the boards. At one time in the first half they outrebounded us 21-4. We have to keep them off the offensive glass and make them work for everything they get. In tournament basketball you have to play good defense, rebound and execute your offense. We need to do all three of those to win.”
Napier said he knows that in both games with Chapmanville this season his team did not shoot well. They will need to shoot a high percentage to win Wednesday and will try to get some better looks at the basket.
Mingo Central is coming off a heartbreaking loss to county rival Tug Valley. The Miners were leading in that game, but faltered in the end to lose 55-53.
— Kyle Lovern of the Williamson Daily News contributed to this report.
High School Tigers
2013-14 Boys’ Basketball Schedule (17-5):
Dec. 14: Liberty-Raleigh (Nationwide Classic), W 65-52
Dec. 17: at Herbert Hoover, W 59-40
Dec. 21: vs. North Marion (Hoops Classic, Charleston Civic Center), W 72-43
Dec. 23: Lincoln County, W 68-36
Dec. 27: Mount View (Bob Runyon Memorial Holiday Tournament), W 62-33
Dec. 28: Riverside (Bob Runyon Memorial Holiday Tournament), L 69-72 (OT)
Jan. 3: Scott, W 57-55
Jan. 14: Man, W 58-47
Jan. 15: at Mingo Central, W 53-27
Jan. 18: Sissonville, W 69-54
Jan. 24: Wayne, L 59-62 (OT)
Jan. 28: Herbert Hoover, W 47-34
Jan. 31: Tolsia, W 67-40
Feb. 1: Poca, L 43-53
Feb. 5: Mingo Central, W 54-45
Feb. 7: at Scott, L 67-73
Feb. 11: at Poca, L 35-68
Feb. 17: at Lincoln County, W 79-38
Feb. 21: at Wayne, W 68-42
Feb. 22: at Sissonville, W 61-39
Feb. 25: at Man, W 90-58
Feb. 26: at Tolsia, W 80-41
March 5: vs. Mingo Central (2A sectionals at Logan), 8 p.m.