LOGAN — The Logan Wildcats are back.
For decades and decades the Logan High School basketball team was the perceived top dog.
At least around these parts.
Then came along the Chapmanville Tigers and their two straight Class AA state championships and three straight appearances in the state finals.
The Tigers seemed to knock Logan off its lofty pedestal.
The Wildcats, however, gained some vengeance on Chapmanville with Tuesday night’s 72-61 upset win over the No. 1-ranked Tigers before a packed Willie Akers crowd of 2,800 in Logan’s long-awaited home opener of the season.
And what a home opener it was.
Logan not only broke Chapmanville’s 54-game in-state winning streak dating back to the 2016-17 season, the Wildcats also snapped an eight-game skid to the Tigers going back three seasons. Logan also broke Chapmanville’s nine-game overall winning streak.
Chapmanville hadn’t lost a game since falling in its season opener in Rock Hill, South Carolina, in a 47-38 in overtime defeat to Christ Church, North Carolina.
To find Chapmanville’s last defeat to a West Virginia team you’d have to go all the way back to Feb. 4, 2017 when the Tigers lost 59-56 in double overtime to Jeremy Dillon and the Mingo Central Miners at home.
Chapmanville fell to 9-2 overall and 2-1 in the Cardinal Conference with the loss. Logan, ranked No. 5 in the state, improved to 8-3, 4-1.
The Wildcats hadn’t played a game in a week and looked well prepared against Chapmanville.
Logan never trailed, and simply put, outplayed the Tigers for the entire game.
Logan’s youthful depth and stifling defense ended up being the difference.
“It was a great win but we didn’t win any trophies,” Logan coach Zach Green said. “It’s on to the next one and we want to keep getting better. We executed our game plan. They did exactly what we asked out of them. Give the credit to the guys. They went out and played hard. Our young guys I think took a huge step in their maturation process. They weren’t scared of the moment and really played well for us.”
Green said it was a nice win but it’s only a regular season game. Barring any upsets, the two teams are projected to meet in the sectional finals for the third straight year.
“It did feel good but until we win a trophy that monkey is still on our backs,” Green said. “That’s what we them in the locker room after the game. It was a good win but we didn’t win any championships tonight and at Logan we play for championships. To are ready to continue the grind and hopefully we can get back to Charleston.”
Senior All-State guard David Early led the way for the Wildcats with 24 points. He hit a pair of 3-pointers and helped put the game on ice in the fourth quarter with a follow-up slam dunk.
Freshman Aiden Slack had a big game for the victorious Wildcats as he tossed in 12 points. Mitchell Hainer had 12, while Garrett Williamson drilled a trio of 3-pointers for nine points. Cameron Hensley had eight, Noah Cook four and Jarron Glick one point.
“We’ve got a bunch of young guys that can play,” Green said. “They all have their individual unique talents. They all play really hard and they all play together. It’s a really good group of kids and I’m really proud of them.”
The loss spoiled a career-high 36-point effort by Chapmanville’s Philip Mullins, who canned five 3-pointers on the evening. He was 13 of 21 from the foul line.
Just three Chapmanville players scored and it was the Tigers’ “Big Three.”
Obinna Anochili-Killen finished with 19 points and Andrew Shull had six. Two of Killen’s makes were from beyond the 3-point arc. No other Tigers scored a single point.
The Cats outscored the CRHS bench 23-0 and led by as many as 20 points. It was never really close.
Logan led 14-13 after one quarter, 33-23 at the half and 48-34 after three.
The Wildcats set the tone early, scoring the first two baskets, then going up 12-6 at the 2:13 mark of the first quarter with Early’s drive down the lane.
Down one after the first period, Chapmanville tied it at 18 with a Mullins 3 with 5:13 to go until halftime.
Slack then followed with a putback to make it 20-18 and Logan led the rest of the way.
Another Mullins 3-pointer pulled the Tigers to within 24-23 but Early answered with a bucket and later canned a 22-foot trey at the top of the key as Logan led 29-23 with 1:11 to go.
Hainer then split from the free throw line with 47.9 ticks to go, missing his second attempt. The ball, however, was deflected out of bounds by a Chapmanville player and possession remained with the Cats. Logan capitalized as Early then netted another 3-pointer, giving Logan a four-point possession and putting the Wildcats on top 33-23 with 43 ticks to go.
Logan took the 10-point lead into the break and was able to expand that in the third quarter.
Williamson’s 3 with 1:24 left in the third quarter gave the Cats a 46-30 lead.
Logan led by 14 after three and the Tigers were not able to get any closer than 11 points the rest of the way.
Green said Early played very well and took charge in the first half.
“He had 18 points alone in the first half and he carried us,” Green said. “He got into a little bit of foul trouble in the second half and was in and out. This team plays well around him and when he’s making shots and able to get guys good looks we are really good offensively.”
Chapmanville had won the last eight meetings with the Tigers going back three seasons. Included in those were wins over Logan in each of the last two Class AA Region 4 Section 2 championship games at Mingo Central.
Logan and Chapmanville played each other at least twice every year from 2002-11 until the series was shelved. Logan went 25-0 over Chapmanville during that span and won state championships in 2005 and 2010.
Chapmanville then beat Logan twice in the 2016-17 roundball campaign, the Tigers’ Class AA state runner-up season. That marked the first time the Tigers had beaten Logan in a varsity basketball game since 1957.
Logan also won the JV game, 79-73, over Chapmanville to make it a sweep.
After opening up the season with 10 straight games at either away or neutral sites, the Wildcats will close out with eight out of their last 11 games at home.
One of those road games is a rematch at Chapmanville on Feb. 4.
“It was a win-win situation for us playing the first 10 games on the road and putting our young guys in tough environments early in the season,” Green said. “But in the last half of the season we have a bunch of home games. It was a good experience for us playing all those games away from home. We’re ready for some more home games and some more crowds like tonight.”