CHARLESTON — Both the Man Hillbillies and the Chapmanville Tigers have their eyes on championship Saturday at the Charleston Coliseum.
Both county teams are set to play on Tuesday, May 4 in opening round action.
Man is ranked No. 1 in Class A and are the Single-A tournament favorites, while the youthful Tigers are the fifth seed in Class AA and are somewhat of a dark horse.
Class AA No. 10-ranked Chapmanville (8-6) wrapped up its fifth straight trip to the state tourney with Thursday night’s 53-40 win at home over Wyoming East in the Class AA Region 3 co-finals and are set to open state tourney play with a first-round matchup with fourth-seeded Clay County (12-3) at 11:15 a.m.
Man (13-2), a regional tourney winner at Wahama, earned the top seed for the Class A state tournament and is scheduled to open play on Tuesday, May 4 at 5:30 p.m. against No. 8 seed Tucker County (12-5).
The Tigers are the two-time defending Class AA state champs. CRHS won back-to-back state titles in 2018 and 2019 before the 2020 was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic as Chapmanville was 22-2 and ranked No. 1 in the state.
“The number one goal is to make it because you can’t win it if you are not there,” Chapmanville coach Brad Napier said. “I always tell my guys that when it comes down to the state tournament it is who handles the atmosphere the best. Everyone that is there is pretty good but you have to be able to handle the atmosphere on the big stage. That’s what it boils down to.”
In other Class AA first-round tourney games: No. 1 Williamstown (14-1) plays No. 8 Moorefield (6-11) on Tuesday at 7:15 p.m.; No. 3 Charleston Catholic (11-2) squares off with No. 6 Ritchie County (11-6) on Wednesday at 11:15 a.m.; and No. 2 Poca (11-4) of the Cardinal Conference takes on No. 7 Bluefield (9-9) on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m.
A Chapmanville win would put the Tigers in Friday’s 1 p.m. semifinal against the Williamstown/Moorefield winner. The Class AA state finals are set for 12:30 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s a good field with Charleston Catholic, Poca and Williamstown,” Napier said. “Clay County’s had a good year and Bluefield has really come on strong. They beat Woodrow Wilson and beat some really good teams. Williamstown has had a great program for years.”
In Class A, Man could be on a collision course with No. 2 seed Tug Valley.
Many want to see a rematch between the Billies and the Panthers in the state finals, which would be on Saturday at 10 a.m., in the morning session.
The Panthers (12-2) are set to play No. 7 seed Cameron (12-4) on Tuesday at 1 p.m.
Man and Tug Valley split during the season with the Billies overwhelming the Panthers, 85-56, at home but then falling 53-50 in the sectional finals at Logan with a buzzer-beating 3-pointer by Joby Sorrell being the difference.
“I’ve been asked a thousand times about that,” Man coach T.J. Blevins said about the possible third meeting with the Panthers. “That would be good if we both make it but as long as we are there on Saturday morning that’s all I’m worried about. We’re very excited and very happy about getting the opportunity to do this with this group of guys. I really think these guys are ready to go.”
Man is making its first trip to the state tournament since 2012.
Blevins said Man is comfortable with being the top seed.
“We’ve accepted that and have moved on from that,” he said. “I think they made the right choice. We hated to see James Monroe get beat because we would have liked to to have seen them in the tournament. We just have to be patient and work the ball. I have no problems as far as our shots not falling. I think that we’re going to be fine. We’ve had some good practices and are hitting on all cylinders. It’s very good to see that.”
In other Class A state tourney quarterfinals on Tuesday, No. 3 Pendleton County (15-0) takes on No. 6 Greenbrier West (11-7) at 9:30 a.m. And No. 4 Webster County (11-6) squares off with No. 5 Clay-Battelle (15-2) at 9 p.m.
A Man win over Tucker County would put the Billies into Thursday’s semifinals against the Webster County/Clay-Battelle winner at 7:15 p.m.
If Tug Valley beats Cameron, the Panthers would play either Pendleton County or Greenbrier West on Thursday at 11:15 a.m.
This is the first year the WVSSAC has gone to a four-class format.
Nitro, Winfield and Hebert Hoover, all of the Cardinal Conference, are in the Class AAA state tourney field.
THE NAPIER FILE: Since Chapmanville’s state championship game run began in 2017, the Tigers have a combined 105-16 record during that span, an 86.7 winning percentage, two Class AA state championships and a state runner-up finish.
Chapmanville went 22-2 last year before the season was shut down. The Tigers were 26-2 two years ago and 27-1 in 2018 during their state championship years. CRHS went 22-5 in 2017 in its runner-up season.
Coach Napier, now in his sixth season, has a 123-25 all-time record at Chapmanville, an 83.1 percent winning percentage.
Napier is 8-2 in state tournament games at CRHS and is making his sixth head coaching appearance at state.
He had previously been the head coach at Mingo Central High School and had taken the Miners to the state tournament. Before that, Napier, a Harts native, was a longtime assistant coach under Mark Hatcher at Logan High School.
Napier led CRHS to four straight state tournaments from 2016-19. Last year would have been the fifth.
Under Napier, the Tigers won four straight Cardinal Conference championships in 2017-20. Nitro took the league crown this year.