Buffalo coach Chuck Elkins talks things over with his team during a timeout in Saturday's game.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Once was not enough for Hurricane.
The Redskins, who finally broke on through to the other side - a winning record - last season, want to keep it going this year. And they may have enough talent to do it.
Hurricane hit a lot of landmarks a year ago under coach Lance Sutherland - a victory over Woodrow Wilson and a win over Putnam County rival Winfield that halted a 12-year, 15-game losing streak to the Generals - and it all added up to a 13-10 record, just the second winning mark for the Redskins over the 10 previous seasons.
His fellow coaches in the Mountain State Athletic Conference sure took notice, as they voted Sutherland the league's coach of the year.
But Sutherland said he expects more after watching his team take down Logan 67-60 at Willie Akers Arena on Tuesday night to go to 2-0.
"Most definitely,'' Sutherland said. "The first goal is back-to-back winning seasons, which hasn't happened in a long time. Then the next goal is to win the sectional.
"The sectional on our side is wide open. We're all about the same. The other side is about the same, too. With South Charleston gone, we're all the same. We'd like to go to Charleston [for the state tournament].''
Class AAA's Region 4, which has been ruled by South Charleston in recent seasons, has a bit of a fresh look for 2012-13 as SC has been bumped to Region 3 along with teams like Capital and George Washington.
Hurricane finds itself in Section 1 of Region 4 along with Nitro, Point Pleasant, St. Albans and Winfield. In Section 2 are Cabell Midland, Huntington, Lincoln County, Logan and Spring Valley.
The Redskins seem to have a little bit of everything this year - shooters in Trey Dawson, Ace Estep and Ian Miles, a slashing point guard in Rasaan Harris and some height in 6-foot-4 Henry Sorsaia and 6-5 junior Ethan Renick.
Renick, however, suffered a badly sprained ankle in practice and hasn't been able to play yet. Sorsaia, at the moment, is the only regular taller than 6-2.
"If we can get everybody to play to our tempo,'' Sutherland said, "then that kind of evens everything out. The height disadvantage will play in our favor, but if we play against teams that slow it down, well, we have size. It just doesn't play to our game we want to play right now.''
Hurricane visits Capital Friday. The Redskins won that game last year 59-58.
Dots' numbers down
Allen Osborne has seen a lot come and go in his 35 seasons as basketball coach at Poca. But this is a relatively new one on him.
His squad started off the season without a junior varsity team. The Dots simply didn't have enough players when 15 showed up for preseason practice, two quit and another was injured.
Osborne said it's never happened in his lengthy tenure at Poca.
"This is the first year for it,'' he said. "We're down.''
Osborne hopes that the situation is just temporary until everyone is healthy. Otherwise, he acknowledged, it could stunt the growth of players like freshmen Shawn Arthur, Kaden Meeks and Alex Hamrick, who only got to play a couple of minutes each at the end of a 27-point win against Clay County last week.
"We've got the three freshmen and a couple of sophomores we really want to get playing time for us,'' Osborne said. "It's important to try and get some games for them. We're hoping to play some [JV games] when everyone gets back.''
More room to move
Don't expect Buffalo's style of play to change all that much since it moved to a more-spacious court in its brand-new school building.
For many of the 61 years at its old, cramped gym, affectionately known as "The Barn,'' the Bison employed full-court or trapping pressure defense against befuddled opponents and often had them running into (or barely avoiding) the walls and bleachers that tightly ringed the floor.
But now that the spaces are more wide-open in the new gym, Buffalo isn't going to alter its style.
"We're still going to try it,'' said veteran coach Chuck Elkins.
"I think that in order to play slower, you have to have that one dominant person you can go to - and we don't have that. We have [6-1] Dylan Rich and [6-1] Bradley Harris, and they'll do a great job. They'll battle you all the way. They're just not the kind of guys who you can turn everything to in a half-court offense.
"I always felt that way. Back in the day, we had a couple 6-8 kids and we ran everything through them in the halfcourt - but we really don't have that [now]. We've got [guards] Isaiah Robinson and Levi Jordan. We have to use what we've got, and that's to try and outrun people.''
Winfield digs in
The preliminaries are over for Winfield.
The Generals, who competed as a Class AAA independent since moving up a division for the 2008-09 school year, embark on their first MSAC league games in the coming days.
Winfield visits Ripley (1-0) Friday and plays at home against Princeton (1-0) Tuesday before a Dec. 21 date against state power Wheeling Park during the Hoops Classic at the Civic Center.
The Generals began the season 2-0 with one-sided victories against Point Pleasant (66-44) and Lincoln County (81-27).
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.