CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- First, snow. Then, cold. Now, water. If this keeps up, basketball teams in the Kanawha Valley will have a hard time fulfilling their 22-game regular season schedules.Some area high schools haven't been able to play now for up to two weeks because of myriad problems, and several have had sporadic practice time.Initially, it was because of snowfall and hazardous travel conditions. Then came the below-zero deep freeze that settled over the entire state of West Virginia. This week, it's the water emergency that has closed nearly every school in Kanawha and Putnam counties.Seldom have so many obstacles to playing games surfaced so close together. The uncertainty of the current water situation in the Kanawha Valley halted about a dozen boys and girls games on Thursday and Friday, and has already forced postponement of at least two more boys contests tonight - Capital at Winfield and Riverside at Nitro.Two of the hardest-hit boys programs are Riverside and George Washington, neither of which has been able to play a game since the calendar flipped to 2014.The last game for the unbeaten Warriors (3-0) was Dec. 28 at Chapmanville. For GW (4-2), it was Dec. 30 at home against Wheeling Park.Riverside so far has lost one game to snow, one to sub-zero temperatures and one to water, including a somewhat-strange scenario Thursday night when Winfield made the trip to Quincy. The junior varsity game between the schools was actually played, but after deliberation, school officials made the decision to call off the varsity contest because of the water situation.Meanwhile, across Kanawha County, South Charleston played its boys varsity game at Capital without interruption, as did Charleston Catholic's girls in a home game against Parkersburg Catholic.Ryan Carter, Riverside's first-year boys coach, hopes to get his team back on the floor Monday against SC at the South Charleston Community Center. If the Warriors do play, it will be their first game in 16 days.
"I was talking to another coach,'' Carter said, "and I told him I felt like a baseball coach, not a basketball coach, rescheduling all these games.''Also problematic for the Warriors is the fact they haven't been able to practice on days when Kanawha County schools called off classes."We're a young team,'' Carter said. "I've only got one senior [Tyus Wood], and we're trying to get used to each other, trying to get used to everything. We were on a roll and won our first three games, but we still have a ton of work to do.''Rick Greene, GW's veteran coach, said his team has been able to practice just four times since its last game on Dec. 30, also losing two games to snow and one to water.
The Patriots are scheduled to play tonight at Cabell Midland. GW floors a relatively inexperienced team, which is trying to mesh with senior transfer Jon Elmore, the leading scorer in the Mountain State Athletic Conference at 32.5 points per game."I think it does [affect us greatly],'' Greene said, "but obviously there are other people like us. I'm not making excuses because there are other guys in the same scenario with their teams. It's really the worst-case scenario.
"If you have a veteran team like we've had in the past, we're in much better shape because once you're running, you're up and running. It hasn't been consistent in a lot of ways. I felt like we were starting to mesh a little bit, but now it's back to square one in some respects.''GW was able to get in a practice session for the Midland game on Friday, but had to go to St. Albans High School to do it, since the Patriots weren't allowed to work out in their own gym because of water limitations.The town of St. Albans, with a separate water source, isn't affected by the current situation, and was able to host Parkersburg in a girls game Friday night."It is sort of a disadvantage,'' Greene said, "because Midland has already played twice this week and has been on a somewhat-regular schedule. But there's nothing you can really do about it, and you just make the best of it."Of all the years for this to happen. I figure it hurts us [worse now] than at any time in the past 10 years. At least we've got time to get ready for the sectional. When all this stuff happens, that's what we're shooting for.''Boys games called off Friday included Sissonville at Lincoln County, Chapmanville at Poca and Scott at Sherman. Girls games included Riverside at Winfield, Capital at SC and GW at Nitro.
Sissonville's Rich Skeen, who coaches both the boys and girls teams, decided to take his program on an impromptu road trip this weekend, since many of his players hadn't had the opportunity to shower in two days.The Indians' squads spent Friday night at Chief Logan State Park outside of Logan, then leave this morning for their girls-boys doubleheader tonight against Mingo Central in Williamson. The girls game is set to tip off at 5:30.Another boys game involving a Kanawha Valley team that is definitely on today pits Hurricane against Woodrow Wilson at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. The rematch of last year's first-round state tournament game is scheduled for 1 p.m.A matchup of Class A top-10 boys teams, Charleston Catholic at Buffalo, set for 7:30 tonight, was still pending as of Friday night. A final decision on whether to play the game is expected about noon today.Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.