2016 New Cardinal Conference logo.jpg

With the WVSSAC set to tackle realignment soon for the 2020-21 school year, this will mark the final season in the current sectional format.

The last several years county teams Logan, Man and Chapmanville have played in a six-team Class AA sectional with Mingo Central, Scott and Lincoln County.

It’s been a very competitive sectional but this will be the last year of the current format.

Chapmanville Regional High School is the defending sectional champions in girls’ basketball, having defeated arch rival Logan, 52-40, in last year’s title game at Mingo Central.

The sectional crown looks to be up for grabs this season.

“It will be a tough sectional,” said Logan coach Kevin Gertz.

Gertz led Logan to a 15-10 season last year. Chapmanville was 18-6. Both teams ended up falling in the Class AA Region co-championship games, leaving both out of the state tournament. Logan lost 42-33 at Wayne, while Chapmanville fell 60-58 at home to Sissonville.

“Chapmanville is going to be very good. Their numbers are down too but not like ours,” Gertz said. “They will be loaded. They’ve got a couple of transfers in from Lincoln County which will make them even better. Lincoln County still has a couple of good players but they’ve lost two starters to Chapmanville. Mingo Central has a new coach and a young team but they have Ziah Rhodes back and she’s a heck of a player. So that will make them good regardless. Man has a new coach but still have a solid core coming back. They improved every game last year. Scott has new coach too with Kevin Harper but I’m not sure what their numbers are.”

CRHS coach Johnny Williamson said he also expects Lincoln County to be very good. Lincoln County, however, lost a pair of starters to Chapmanville as Harts natives Graci Brumfield and Allie Farmer transferred to CRHS.

“Lincoln County still has a lot of talent,” Williamson said. “Even with the two girls that came to Chapmanville. They had some really good freshmen last year and Natalie Fout was a really good shooter and the McComas girl is also a really good player. The Rhodes girl is back at Mingo Central. I think they will be good. Logan is always good.”

Logan returns sophomore guard Peyton Ilderton, who was fourth in the Cardinal Conference in scoring last season at 20.8 points per game. Jill Tothe, another returning starter, was 10th (11.9).

Chapmanville is also the defending Cardinal Conference champions but in order to repeat it will be very tough.

The Lady Tigers return Ali Williamson, Olivia Dalton, Abbie Myers and others.

Winfield and Nitro are also expected to challenge for the league title. Nitro returns junior all-state guard Baylee Goins, who was second in the conference in scoring at 23.4 points per game last season.

“I know that Winfield is going to be good,” Williamson said. “They took a little bit of a loss with the one girl who tore her ACL playing soccer. That will hurt them a little bit. Winfield seems like they always have good athletes. Wayne will be good again. Logan is always Logan and will be good. Mingo Central has a new coach but I think that they will be refocused and will be pretty good. Baylee Goins is back at Nitro and both Nitro and Winfield both basically have their team back from last year.”

Gertz also said Winfield will be tough to beat.

“Wayne’s numbers are down and they lost a couple of their top players,” he said. “They have a great coach though and he will make them strong. Sissonville lost a lot and lost their coach. But the best team in our region without a doubt is Winfield. They are a senior dominated team this year. Nitro has Goins and she is one of the top players in this state. They will also be super strong. Hoover has low numbers like us, maybe nine or 10. Poca is down in numbers as well and also have a new coach.”

The future of the Cardinal Conference makeup is unclear.

Just last week, in a shocker, Mingo Central was voted out of the league effective for next season.

Also with realignment coming up, the Cardinal could also lose other members as Winfield, and possibly others, could move up to Triple-A

The conference is a traditional Class AA only league.

“It was a shocker to me because we are only one month away from realignment,” Williamson said. “So I don’t understand that at all. The conference needs Mingo Central. The team that they wanted to bring in is Lincoln County but they could possibly be an issue too because they could be Triple-A. The conference is basically run by football and their were a lot of football coaches that were upset, so maybe that’s why they voted Mingo out.”

Gertz said he was also puzzled by Mingo Central being booted out.

“I don’t have a big voice in that but I’ve heard for quite awhile that a lot of the AD’s wanted to move Mingo Central out because of them not showing up for everything,” he said. “I didn’t think that it would happen but it did. I’m not a real big fan of us because you don’t know who is going where as far as Double-A or Triple-A and it’s going to make it tougher on our schedule. It will make it very tough on them now in order to get a schedule. I don’t like it but it’s not my decision.”

Paul Adkins is the sports editor of the Logan Banner. Follow him on Twitter @PAdkinsBanner or email him at padkins@hdmediallc.com.