March Madness begins this weekend as the Class AA Region 4 Section 2 boys' basketball tournament is scheduled to get under way.
Chapmanville (20-2), the two-time defending Class AA state champion, is the top seed and tournament favorite.
The No. 1-ranked Tigers, led by seniors Obinna Killen, Philip Mullins and Andrew Shull, are searching for their fifth straight sectional title.
Logan (15-7) is the second seed and the No.5-ranked team in the state, and is nipping at the Tigers' tail. The Wildcats, led by senior and Cardinal Conference scoring champion David Early, split with Chapmanville this season.
Back on Jan. 14, Logan defeated the Tigers 72-61 at home, breaking Chapmanville's 54-game in-state winning streak dating back to the 2017 season. Chapmanville then beat Logan in the second meeting, 60-55, on Feb. 4 at CRHS.
Both Logan and Chapmanville received first-round byes and won't play until next week's semifinals. If the Cats and Tigers both win their sectional games they would meet for a third straight year in the sectional championship game, which would be Friday, March 6 atop Miner Mountain at Mingo Central High School.
Logan is also led by Mitchell Hainer, Noah Cook and an armada of young players such as Aiden Slack, Garrett Williamson, Jarron Glick and others who have stepped up this season.
The Wildcats actually have a 17-5 on court record.
Logan was forced to forfeit a pair of wins over Muscle Shoals, Alabama and Pikeville, Kentucky, over Christmas break in a tournament in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Early, who had transferred back to Logan from Beckley Prep, was ineligible to play during that tourney. Logan coaches had thought Early had logged the minimum required 14 practices but in fact he only had 13.
Just as in years past, neutral gyms at CRHS, Logan and Mingo Central will be used for the sectional tourney. This is the last year for the current six-game sectional tournament format. Next season, the WVSSAC goes to a two-year, four class pilot program which will put Logan in Class AAA, Chapmanville in 2A and Man in Single-A. The Wildcats, Hillbillies and Tigers will be placed in three separate sectionals.
This year's sectionals are set to begin on Saturday with two first-round games at Chapmanville's Danny Godby Gymnasium.
No. 4 seed Mingo Central (11-10) takes on No. 5 Man (17-5) at 6 p.m. Then in the second game around 7:30, No. 3 seed Scott plays No. 6 Lincoln County (14-8).
Chapmanville then plays the Mingo Central/Man winner on Tuesday, March 3 at 7:30 p.m. at Logan.
The other semifinal is the set for Wednesday, March 4 as Logan faces the Scott/Lincoln County winner at Chapmanville in a 7:30 p.m.. tip time.
Man won a school record 17 regular season games this season and have shown much improvement. The Billies, coached by TJ Blevins and ranked 10th in the state, crushed Class A Van, 93-48, on Tuesday in the regular season finale.
Three years ago, Man struggled through a winless 0-22 season. Two seasons ago Man won seven games and last year won 10, so the Billies have matched the win total of the last three seasons combined.
Man faced the Miners twice during the regular season but lost both games, 67-57 on the road, and 78-71 at home.
The Miners, coached by Stan Elkins and led by brothers Drew and Devin Hatfield, enter the sectional tourney on a tailspin, having lost their last four games. Mingo Central lost 72-65 in overtime at Lincoln County in the regular season finale on Feb. 21. The Miners also lost to Chapmanville, Scott and Westside during the span.
Man has a balanced attack, led by Austin Ball, Peyton Adams, Jackson Tackett, Caleb Blevins, Christian Toler, Ryan Cozart, Jeremiah Harless and others.
Scott is led by Jagger Bell and Jon Jon Hamilton. The two were among the top scorers in the Cardinal Conference this season. The Skyhawks split with Lincoln County this season, topping the Panthers 78-66 in the season opener on Dec. 10 at home and later falling at Hamlin, 64-49, on Jan. 3.
The Panthers come into the post-season having won four out of their last six games.
Scott is 9-3 over its last 12 contests.
Chapmanville began the season ranked No. 1 in the state but fell to No. 2 for much of the season after the Tigers lost two games. Shady Spring was unbeaten for much of the season and took over the top spot.
But after taking a loss, Shady (20-1) fell to third in the final AP statewide poll and the Tigers were vaulted back to No. 1. Chapmanville received nine out of the 10 first place votes from the media.
Bluefield (20-3) is ranked second in the final poll while Robert C. Byrd (18-2) is fourth.
Poca, a Region 4 foe and the Class AA Region 4 Section 1 favorite, is ranked No. 6 in the state. The Dots are 17-3 and were beaten by both Chapmanville and Logan this season.
Frankfort (18-3) is seventh, North Marion (18-4) eighth, Bridgeport (14-6) ninth and Man 10th.
If Chapmanville and Logan meet in the sectional finals it will be the rubber match.
The winner would then host a regional co-final, while the loser would have to travel to the Class AA Region 4 Section 1 winner, likely Poca.
Logan had to travel to Poca in last year's regional title game and lost to the Dots in a slowdown game.
Chapmanville is 9-1 vs. Logan in its last 10 meetings and have defeated the Wildcats two years a row in the sectional finals on the Mingo Central hardwood. Last year, the Tigers took a 68-55 win. Two years ago, Chapmanville also beat Logan in the sectional finals.
The Tigers were able to meander through a very difficult schedule this season.
The only other setback was a 47-38 overtime loss to prep school Christ Church, North Carolina, in the season opener at Rock Hill, South Carolina.
Chapmanville then went 20-1 the rest of the way, also beating other prep schools, such as ISA Osborne, Ohio, and the Miller School from Virginia.
The Tigers also scored a 59-51 victory over Prep School Aspire Academy out of Louisville in Pittsburgh.
Chapmanville also had big wins over ranked teams Bluefield (60-50) and Poca (45-40) this season.
In addition, Chapmanville defeated Class AAA Wheeling Park, 61-48, on the road.
The Tigers went on to go 12-1 in league play to capture their fourth straight Cardinal Conference championship. Chapmanville, 13-0 in each of the last two seasons within the conference, have a 50-2 league mark over the last four years.
The Tigers are gunning for a historic third straight Class AA state championship.
No Logan County team has ever won three straight state titles in any major varsity sport.
The Logan High School boys' basketball team (1977, 1978), the Chapmanville Regional High School softball team (2009, 2010), the Man High School softball team (2008, 2009), the Logan softball team (2001, 2002), the Logan baseball team (2000 and 2001) and the old Aracoma High School football team (1948, 1949) won two straight state crows.
Next season, Chapmanville moves into a new Class AA sectional with Mingo Central and Liberty Raleigh.
Man goes to a new Class A sectional with Tug Valley, Tolsia, Sherman and Van.
Logan has a new Triple-A sectional with Scott, Wayne and Lincoln County.
Class AA Region 4 Section 2
Boys' Basketball Tournament
Saturday, Feb. 29 games:
No. 4 Mingo Central (11-10) vs. No. 5 Man (17-5) at Chapmanville, 6 p.m.
No. 3 Scott (14-8) vs. No. 6 Lincoln County (14-8) at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Tuesday, March 3 game (Semifinal):
No. 1 Chapmanville (20-2) vs. Mingo Central/Man at Logan, 7:30 p.m.
Wednesday, March 4 games (Semifinals):
No. 2 Logan (15-7) vs. Scott/Lincoln County at Chapmanville, 7:30 p.m.
Friday, March 6 game (Final):
Semifinal winners at TBA, 7:30 p.m.