LOGAN — It will have a very weird feel, like one of those alternate reality sci-fi episodes.
Like the Twilight Zone.
This alternate reality, however, will in fact be reality.
This will take place on Nov. 23 when coach Kevin Gertz takes his Logan High School girls’ basketball team to the Kanawha Valley to take on St. Albans in a 10 a.m. scrimmage.
Sitting on the other bench across the scorer’s table will be none other than Shayna Gore, the newly named St. Albans girls’ basketball coach, and former Logan High School and Marshall University great.
Gore, only 22 years old, just finished up her Marshall career last season and this will be her first coaching job really of any kind.
“It will be the first time that I’ve ever cheered against her,” Gertz said. “No, I never cheer against her. I want her to do well. She will do well.”
Gertz said he saw the coach in Gore going back to her days in Logan.
Gore, who ended up becoming the all-time leading scorer in Logan High School basketball history for either gender, led Logan to the 2013 Class AAA state championship game her sophomore season.
Gore orchestrated a storybook year that season.
Logan defeated St. Albans, her current team, on the road in the Class AAA regional championship game then pulled off upsets over Spring Valley and Princeton in the state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center before falling 58-34 to Parkersburg South in the finals.
“She’s the hardest working player that I’ve ever coached,” Gertz said. “She was in the gym probably 350 days a year. I’m anxious to see her team. I scout when we don’t play. I will be there for her first ever coaching experience for our scrimmage but I’d love to be there for her first ever game and take (Logan assistant coach) Mike Tothe with me. Mike coached her longer than I did in the All-Girls League. Everybody in this community is proud of her. She’s done great things and I think she’ll continue to do great things.”
Gore has seem to energize the girls’ basketball program at St. Albans in a short amount of time.
“I wish I had her numbers,” Gertz said. “She had 31 try out for the team. They only let her keep 21 so she had to learn the most difficult thing about coaching and that is to come back and try again next year. That’s a very very tough thing to do. It’s not something that I have to worry about this year. Numbers are down this year except for St. Albans.”
Gore dabbled in the professional waters in Spain shortly after finishing up at Marshall, but quickly realized that life that far from home just wasn’t for her. Now back in Huntington and working on a Masters Degree in sports management, she also found the job opening at St. Albans.
“Once I landed over there, it just kind of hit me,” Gore told the Charleston Gazette. “I know I want to coach and I eventually want to coach in college. [St. Albans athletic director] Rick [Whitman] called me in Spain and told me this job had come about. I actually sent in my application from over there.
“I couldn’t pick a better school to start at. The girls work hard and make good grades.”
While with the Thundering Herd, Gore shattered the 3-point record, hitting 303 of them for her career, besting the old mark set by Sikeetha Shepard-Hall by 157.
Gore left as the school’s third-leading scorer with 2,081 career points and is one of only three women to play at Marshall to break the 2,000-point barrier.
She is also the career leader in points at Logan with 1,991 and made three first-team, Class AAA All-State squads while with the Wildcats.
St. Albans went 11-12 last season and will be rebuilding under Gore.
“I think they’re excited more so to have a girl coach they can relate to and my age too maybe,” Gore said. “I talked to them and asked them if they had any questions and the first question I got was, ‘So, can we listen to music in practice?’
“I think it’s fresh too. I just got done with my career a few months a go, I was playing in Spain a month ago too. I can relate to them a lot at their age and I know what it takes, especially to play at the next level. I want to help them with basketball but also help them outside of basketball too. I really just want to be a good role model.”
Logan is coming off a 15-10 season from a year ago.
The Lady Cats beat Lincoln County, 50-41, in the sectional tourney before falling 52-40 to Mingo Central in the sectional finals and then dropping a 42-33 contest at Wayne in the regional co-finals, leaving Logan a game away from the state tourney.
Logan does return Class AA Second-Team All-State guard Peyton Ilderton, a sophomore and the team’s leading scorer, a player Gertz says has “Shayna Gore-like talents.”
Jill Tothe, a Second-Team All-Cardinal Conference shooting guard and starter, also returns.
“Our numbers are down,” Gertz said. “Right now we are at 10-11 players. One girl is having an issue with sickness at home and she might have to get a job to help with family income. That’s tough. We have eight healthy bodies now but two more are out with injuries. Hopefully they will be back in a week or so.”
Logan’s second and final preseason game is Nov. 30 at home against Nitro. The tip time for that game has not yet been announced.
The Lady Cats’ season opener is set for Dec. 6 at home against county rival Man in a 7 p.m. tip-off. Also new to the Lady Cats this season is a two-day all-girls basketball classic at Logan’s Willie Akers Arena, Jan. 3-4. Three games are scheduled each day. Logan faces off with Scott and 3A George Washington in the tourney.
Look for more preseason basketball previews of county teams in the Nov. 27 and Dec. 4 editions of The Logan Banner and also in the 2019-20 Southern West Virginia High School Basketball Preview edition.