to the state tournament from 1996-2003.
It was eight long years.
Wildcat basketball fans were used to making the almost yearly trip to the Charleston Civic Center.
But over the last few years under head coach Mark Hatcher, Logan has restored that longstanding tradition.
Logan had been to the state tournament the last four years.
With Thursday night's thrilling 41-39 win over Scott in the Class AA Region 6 championship, the Wildcats made it five years in a row.
Five regional titles.
Five straight trips to the Big Dance.
It seems like it's all becoming routine to the Wildcats.
But nothing was routine about last night's game as Scott took the Wildcats to the limit.
And then some.
The Skyhawks took a late fourth quarter lead on Logan and had a chance to steal away the win but Marcus Linville's 3-pointer from the corner rimmed out as time expired.
It was a collective sigh of relief for Logan basketball fans at a standing room only crowd at the Williamson Memorial Fieldhouse.
No. 2-ranked Logan went into Thursday's regional finals as the favorite to beat No. 8-rated Scott, a program which had not been to the state tournament since 1944.
Two-point win or blowout win it was still sweet for Logan (22-3), which is scheduled to play in the Class AA state tournament next Wednesday at the Charleston Civic Center at either 9:30 a.m., 1 p.m., 5:30 p.m. or 9 p.m. against a yet to be named
The Wildcats have loftier goals, of course, than just making it to the state tournament.
Logan thinks it has some unfinished business left to be taken care of after the Wildcats lost 61-49 in last year's Class AA state championship game to Wyoming East.
But that's next week.
Logan players can enjoy last night's championship for at least a day.
Junior center Jonathan Bevins said he's thrilled to make it back to the Civic Center. He played as a freshman on Logan's 2006 team, which lost in the state semifinals to Ravenswood. Then last year, he helped lead Logan to the state finals.
"It feels great but I was kind of getting nervous there late when they went up by one," Bevins said. "You just never know in a game like this. They (Scott) played great defense and we struggled to score all night."
Logan coach Mark Hatcher said Scott, which played tenacious defense on the Wildcats all night long, made his team earn it big time.
Out of the five regional championships it was by far the closest Logan had played. The Cats began its regional run by knocking off Tug Valley in 2004. Then after beating county rival Chapmanville in 2005 and 2006 the Wildcats topped Scott last year in the regional title game.
The Wildcats were a heartbeat away from not making it back to Charleston.
"It's tremendous, just tremendous. Five straight years in pretty unbelievable," Hatcher said. "We had to earn this one for sure."
Logan starting junior guard Brett Sorrell acknowledged the Cats didn't play that well against upset-minded Scott but it is still great to be going back to the state tourney again.
"It feels awesome. It was close and I hope that we never play like that again," Sorrell said. "They were tough and they played good defense."
Logan's starting junior point guard Brantz O'Briant said the Skyhawks were a formidable foe.
"It's great. We didn't play that well tonight but some other guys stepped up tonight," he said. "They (Scott) controlled the game and they played their style to win but we won at their own game. It feels great to know that we don't have to play our style to
win. It doesn't matter whether we win by two or 20. A win's a win, we'll take it and we'll move on and try to win three more."
Jacob Long, a senior starter, played last year at the state tourney and said Logan has accomplished what it set out to do.
"It feels great to be going back. That was our goal -- to get back there," Long said. "We've got to go and do the job."
For freshman sensation guard Paul Williamson, it will be his first trip to the Charleston Civic Center. He hit two free throws with 1:33 left to put Logan back on top 40-39 in last night's game.
"I've never been there but it feels pretty good," Williamson said. "Going as a freshman in my first year is exciting and I think that we've got a good shot."
For Logan senior reserve guard Jordan Calandros it will be another trip to the state tourney. Calandros nailed a key 3-pointer and then followed Williamson by splitting from the free throw line with 8.7 ticks to go to put the Cats on top 41-39. The score ended up being the final as the Skyhawks missed the potential game-winning trey at the buzzer.
"It feels awesome. It feels a whole lot better than last year for some reason," Calandros said. "I don't know. I guess because I hit that one shot tonight. It makes it a big deal."
Senior Greg Adams, a 6-5 forward, has played a big part in Logan's success this season. He said he's also happy to get to play at the state tourney one last time.
"You can't describe it. I've been to the state tournament four years now since I was a freshman. It feels great," Adams said. "You can't describe being out there on that state tournament floor with all of the Logan people behind you. We've gone five years in a row now and no other Logan team has done that. We're making history and I plan on making some more history."
Logan junior backup Jordan Butcher said Scott pushed the Cats to the brink.
"It's wonderful. It feels great. It's the best feeling in the world right now to get a chance to go back," Butcher said. "Scott gave us everything that they had and I've got to hand it to them. They are a
really good defensive team. We came out and we knew that it was going to be a good game."
Senior reserve guard Pete Lowery said he would have liked to have won the regional championship game by a much more comfortable margin. Watching from the bench was just too nerveracking.
"I would have liked to have gone with a bit easier game. This was too close for me," Lowery said, smiling. "Sitting on the bench and watching a game like this scares me but I'm excited to go to the state tournament and I can't wait."
Sophomore backup Bryce Dalton summed it up quite simply.
"It's unbelievable," Dalton said. "This is amazing."