CHAPMANVILLE — It’s safe to say the 2013-14 version of the Chapmanville Regional High School boys’ basketball team will be remembered quite fondly.
The Tigers wrapped up the school’s first-ever trip to the state tournament with Thursday night’s thrilling 44-41 win over Nicholas County before a packed crowd of 1,550 fans at Chapmanville’s Danny Godby Gymnasium.
Never before have the Tigers played in the state tournament.
Not Chapmanville Regional High School or its predecessor, the old Chapmanville High School.
It’s been 85 years.
The drought is finally over.
“I’m proud of the team and we came together,” said junior guard Josh Butcher, who hit the game-winning 3-pointer with two seconds left. “We bonded together at the best time possible. I’m very proud of our crowd and the support that we had with our fans. I hope to see them in Charleston.”
Senior Brady Cox, Chapmanville’s three-sport standout and the team’s 6-foot-5 center, said he is thrilled to make history.
“It’s pretty amazing. It’s the best feeling that I’ve ever had,” Cox said. “I’ve been able to make history in three sports. I won a state championship in baseball, made it to the state semifinals in football and now we’re going to state in basketball.
“It’s pretty crazy. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. There’s no feeling better than this. There can’t be.”
Junior Zac Casto, known for his floor slaps during Chapmanville’s games in an effort to fire up the team on the defensive side of the court, said it’s like a dream come true.
“It feels like a dream,” Casto said after the game. “I talked to my dad the other day and this feels like it’s not even real. I’m so excited and I’m so glad to be a part of history. I feel very honored to be the first Chapmanville team to make it to the state tournament. I’m very appreciative to my teammates and everyone around to be able to share this moment.”
Senior Kenny Plumley, a 6-4 forward who scored 17 points to lead the Tigers in the game, said it is a special feeling to finally make it.
“This is everything that we’ve worked for all year,” Plumley said. “For the seniors, we’ve been working hard for this for the past four years. It’s great and it feels special to make history like we did.”
Senior Jon Williamson said four years ago as an eighth-grader he made a promise: to help someday get the Tigers to the Big Dance.
“I don’t know what to say, to be honest with you,” Williamson said. “I’ve been waiting for this for a long time. I’ve been playing ball since I was 9-years-old. Four years ago, Kenny Plumley and myself went to Chapmanville’s regional tournament game against Sissonville at Riverside. On the way out we looked at each other and looked dead in each other’s eyes and we promised that we would be the first Chapmanville team to go to the state tournament. And now we are.
“I’m honored. We have a Hall of Fame and there have been some great basketball players who have played here. Just to say that we are the first is remarkable.”
Junior point guard Trey Dalton was already looking ahead to the state tourney just moments after the Tigers posed for a team photo and cut down the nets.
“It’s a feeling that I’ve never felt before and nobody in Chapmanville has ever had,” Dalton said. “I’m honored to be the first group ever to do it. We are going up there to win some games. Our goal is to win the state title not just to get there.
“I was there when I was 4-years-old when Coach Danny Godby was there and they played in the regional. It’s an honor to make it there. This is a feeling that blows my mind.”
Chapmanville guard Joe Tackett said the team came together this season, especially after a disappointing home loss to Wayne on Jan. 24 when the Tigers lost to the underdog Pioneers 62-59 in overtime. It was one of the turning points to the season.
“It feels amazing. All of these great teams have been close over the years but to be the team to make it it feels so surreal,” Tackett said. “It’s the greatest feeling in the world. It really is. It was a quest to make it. We had some bad losses this year. We lost to Wayne here. I think that really sparked us and put a drive in us and have a better will to win. We got it done.”
Tackett said the win was dedicated to all of the past Chapmanville basketball teams who fell just short of making it to the state tourney.
“You get to know some of the people who have went through it and do be the team to do it and have some of them come up to you and say, ‘Thanks. This is something that I was never able to do.’ It’s just a great feeling,” he said.
Tackett said he was impressed with the home crowd who filled the Chapmanville gym an hour before tipoff.
“They were awesome,” Tackett said. “I don’t care if it was a free throw, a layup or whatever. They went crazy. They were amazing.”
Reserve player Trevor Nagy summed it all up.
“It feels great. We’re the first team to do it,” Nagy said. “It’s a great feeling.”