The Logan High School boys’ basketball team experienced something last year that it is not accustomed to.
A losing season.
The Wildcats could never really find their groove and finished 8-17 — their first losing basketball campaign in 10 years.
Despite the down season Logan still very nearly made it again to the Class AAA state tournament as the Wildcats took homestanding Hurricane to the limit before falling 64-58 in overtime to the Redskins in the 3A regional co-championship game at Hurricane High School’s crammed crackerbox of a gymnasium.
For the first time since 2009 when Logan lost 71-54 to Cabell Midland in the Class AAA sectional tourney at Huntington’s old Veterans Memorial Fieldhouse, the Wildcats would not be making their yearly trek to the Charleston Civic Center and the state tournament.
After capturing the 2010 state title, Logan had first-round state tourney exits in 2011 and 2012.
Six senior players from last year’s Logan team — Trent Dalton, A.J. Reynolds, C.J. Williams, Brant Williams, Eric Burnette and Zach Hatfield — have been lost due to graduation.
But for the returning members of Logan’s team, last year’s disappointment has been a rallying cry.
The Cats will be back.
Logan has already begun preparations for the upcoming 2013-14 season as it is in the midst of the June three-week summer practice period.
Logan coach Mark Hatcher said things have gone well so far.
“We were seconds away from going to the state tournament,” Hatcher said. “We’ve had a real good summer so far. The kids seem to be pretty excited. We had a good spring. There’s a lot of young kids who are playing a lot. We’ve also got some steady older kids. We’ve lost a few to baseball.”
As is the case with Logan’s traditionally strong basketball program, there’s plenty of talent to go around and there’s always lots of new faces ready to step in.
The Wildcats will look to 5-10 rising senior and longrange specialist Zak Miller to lead the way. Also back is 6-0 senior forward Bryden “Worm” Street. Zac Acord, who sat out last season, is also back, Hatcher said.
“We’ve got Zak Miller coming back and Zac Acord has come back to the program,” Hatcher said. “He’s really helping. We’ve also got Worm and he’s been magnificent. We’ve got a real good group of kids from the middle school who are really going to help us with some size.”
The Logan basketball team will stay busy in June with three team basketball camps at Marshall University, Pikeville (Ky.) and Georgetown (Ky.). The Cats are also set to play in a shootout at Scott.
“It’s a busy three weeks right here,” Hatcher said.
Hatcher said he’s working on next year’s schedule but does not yet have it complete.
Back on the schedule is Tug Valley, which won last year’s Class A state tourney and took the 2A state title a couple of years ago. The Panthers swept the Wildcats last year, winning 53-41 at Logan and 57-44 at Naugatuck. Tug Valley has won the last four meetings between the two schools.
Logan is also set to play Hurricane again next year, along with Greenbrier East.
“Most of the schedule stays the same,” Hatcher said. “We’re still playing Greenbrier East twice and Tug Valley twice. The tournament that we played over in Charleston last year will now be a two-day shootout. There will be 26 teams. It’s called the Little General Shootout. It is going to have the top teams in the state of West Virginia for both boys and girls. It’s going to really be a big event. We’re still playing Hurricane next year. We’re also picking up Nitro.”
Logan’s King Coal Classic is also taking shape, according to Hatcher.
Last season, Logan lost 47-43 to Greenbrier East in the tourney and had its second game against Belfry (Ky.) called off due to bad weather.
“It’s going to happen again. We’re just working on who we are going to play,” Hatcher said of the King Coal Classic. “We may be playing a team out of North Carolina. We’re just not sure right now. We’ve got Capital coming again. Tug Valley was already full as they had picked up some teams. It will still be a good event. We’re going to try and get another college game and maybe a women’s college game also.”
Last season, local fans were treated to a WVIAC college men’s game as Fairmont State played Davis & Elkins. Fairmont State had former Logan guard and freshman player Stevie Browning on its roster.
The Wildcats faltered down the stretch last season going 3-11 in their last 14 games.
Logan beat Spring Valley 76-71 in the sectional tourney opener but lost 49-36 to Huntington in the finals. Hurricane then ousted the Cats in the regional tourney, leaving Logan short of Charleston.