Poca freshmen and other high school basketball notes
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- A few boys basketball notes now that teams are actually playing games again:
Poca's veteran coach, Allen Osborne, hasn't been afraid of playing freshmen, from the days of Tim Dagostine in the 1980s all the way to Noah Cottrill in the 2000s.
So he isn't going to change his stripes now that he's got a pair of talented ninth-graders in his program - 6-foot-1, 180-pound Elijah Cuffee and 6-4, 175-pound Luke Frampton, both regular starters this season.
Cuffee is the younger brother of former Poca standout and Division I recruit Jason Cuffee (now at Division II Cedarville, Ohio) and Frampton is the younger brother of junior guard Noah Frampton, a returning starter for the Dots (7-1), who are tied for fifth in the Class AA state poll.
Elijah Cuffee stands second on the team in scoring at 14.7 points per game, and Luke Frampton averages 9.9 points. Cuffee tossed in a season-high 23 points at Wayne on Tuesday and Luke Frampton has hit double figures in scoring four times in seven games
Osborne isn't about to start checking his players' birth certificates - he doesn't care how young they are. If they can play, they'll play.
"No, we haven't even talked about it,'' Osborne said. "They're basketball players and pretty good players.''
Cuffee said he and Luke Frampton, being counted upon to produce right away, haven't had a chance to become starry-eyed freshmen.
"It was weird at first,'' Cuffee said, "but you get used to it real fast. I think me and him have adjusted real well.''
Osborne, whose varsity and JV rosters are stocked with 11 freshmen out of 20 total players, said the upperclassmen have assisted the transition for Cuffee and Frampton.
"Our older guys have really helped them,'' Osborne said. "They talk to them and have done a good job with them. They're very talented, and a lot of credit goes to our veterans for helping those guys. They've been there, and they know what goes on.''
Cuffee feels that the Dots don't have to change their expectations, which include securing a state tournament spot, just because of the overabundance of youth.
"I think our sights are [set] the same,'' he said. "I think we can still do what we want to do. It doesn't matter whether we're freshmen or not.''
A pair of Kanawha Valley teams are likely to be facing supreme challenges during the upcoming Big Atlantic Classic, which just released its schedule earlier this week.
In the first round, Hurricane is set to tackle Parkersburg South, which took a 9-0 record and a No. 6 AAA ranking into Friday night's date with Wheeling Park. South sports an extremely balanced lineup, with as many as five players carrying double-figure scoring averages in recent games.
The Redskins and Patriots clash at approximately 5:40 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 31 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center (the building formerly known as the Raleigh County Armory). It's the third of five varsity games set for that day.
The game that precedes that one is Capital against Lewis County (3-2), a contest the Cougars will be favored to win. Capital took a 5-0 record and co-No. 3 AAA ranking into Friday's game at Huntington.
If the Cougars do advance to the Big Atlantic boys co-championship at 9 p.m. on Feb. 1, it could come against Greenbrier East (8-3), the No. 5 team in AAA and one of great talent that coach Jim Justice has assembled in Fairlea.
The Spartans, who face Preston (5-3) in the Big Atlantic opening round, rely on a pair of Division I signees in 6-3 senior guard Rondale Watson (Wake Forest) and 6-10 senior center Obi Romeo (St. Joseph's), a native Nigerian who's been playing baseball for less than four years.
Woodrow Wilson's record looked peculiar when it started off the season 1-2. Since then, the Flying Eagles have won three in a row to bump it back to a better-looking 4-2 heading into Friday's home game with Winfield.
The losses were somewhat understandable when you consider they came on the road to No. 2 Huntington and No. 5 Greenbrier East, and even more understandable when you factor in missed playing time by starters.
The Flying Eagles were without starter Brent Osborne for their first two games, including the loss to Huntington, and played four games without senior guard Donte Nabors, a returning first-team all-stater who led the team in scoring last season at 20.2 points per game. Low post Noah Hancock also missed a game.
The loss of Nabors to an ankle injury was obviously the biggest obstacle to overcome for a team that made it to the Class AAA state finals last year.
"It took us starting to play games for the kids to realize we don't have Donte,'' said Woodrow coach Ron Kidd. "They've got to do a lot of little different things and step up. And that comes with us playing games.
"We call it like being a warrior or a solider. Anytime you have a solider go down, we always tell our kids somebody else has got to step up, and kind of mend for that person that's gone. Help somebody out.''
One of the players asked to chip in even more in Nabors' absence is senior guard Jaylon Breckenridge, who is averaging about 10 points and led the Flying Eagles with 14 points in a recent win against Hurricane.
"I feel that,'' Breckenridge said about taking over some of Nabors' duties. "I feel like I need to for the team when our point guard [is out]. That's the biggest step up right there."
Buffalo certainly won't be lacking for senior leadership the rest of the season.
The Bison lost the only non-senior in its rotation when junior Austin Hensley re-injured his shoulder in a Jan. 4 game against South Gallia (Ohio). It's the same ailment that sidelined Hensley nearly the entire football season when he was hurt on the opening kickoff of the first game.
That leaves Buffalo (6-2) with eight players, all seniors, to see most of the floor time.
"We're going to play eight seniors from here on out,'' said coach Chuck Elkins. "They know what we're trying to do. We're just not doing it very well at times.
"And the hardest is yet to come. We still have Greater Beckley, Magnolia, Tucker and Valley twice. It's not going to get any easier.''
Buffalo has reset its home game against Charleston Catholic to Feb. 13.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.