Corridor G should be home to some great basketball in the coming months.
Three of the top teams in the boys Class AA division all play within a few miles of each other on the expressway known as U.S. 119 that winds through the southern coalfields of West Virginia.
Chapmanville Regional, Mingo Central and Logan all had decent seasons last year, and all figure to be just as strong or stronger this time around.
The AA state tournament runner-up last year with a 23-5 record, Chapmanville opened its season with a dominating 86-41 victory at Poca last week as returnees Drew Williamson (19 points), Obinna Anochili Killen (16) and Dylan Smith (15) all contributed heavily.
Mingo Central (20-7 last year) began its season Tuesday with a 105-63 conquest of Scott. Last year, the Miners opened some eyes by handing Chapmanville its only Cardinal Conference loss during the regular season, then knocking off defending state champion Poca in the Region 4 co-finals 61-53, halting a 53-game home court win streak for the Dots to also make the state tournament.
Logan, meanwhile, is coming off a 14-10 season, and returns its top two scorers in 6-foot-4 sophomore guard David Early and 6-5 senior Dino Noe. Early has already received a scholarship offer from West Virginia University.
“We feel like we have three of the best teams in double-A in the state down here,’’ said Logan coach Zach Green, “and all within 30 minutes of each other, maybe closer than that. It’s going to be a brutal section.
“It’s still really early to tell how good Mingo’s going to be. They’ve got some newcomers, so we’re anxious to see them and get a feel for them. We know how good Chapmanville’s going to be.’’
Chapmanville, Mingo Central and Logan are all part of Class AA’s Region 4 Section 2. Two of the three could conceivably make the state tournament, but one would have to go on the road to win in the co-regional final.
“It’s not going to be easy for us down here,’’ Green said. “It’s going to be a battle all year. We feel that is going to put us ahead if we do get out of this section and get to the state tournament. It’s going to put us ahead of a lot of teams if we happen to get through this kind of rigorous tournament just to get there.’’
So far this season, Early has averaged 23.5 points and Noe 19.5.
Michael Pinkerton has had more than his fair share of bad luck when it comes to staying healthy and competing in athletics for Sissonville.
As a sophomore, Pinkerton missed all but the team’s last six basketball games after battling a heart condition. Last season, he missed the Indians’ final four games with a broken foot. Now it appears as if he will miss the entire season after suffering a torn ACL in a preseason scrimmage against Oak Hill.
Pinkerton, one of the team’s tallest players at 6-3, averaged 13.4 points last season and gunned in 48 3-point goals to rank among the Kanawha Valley leaders.
“With everything that’s happened to him, and now this happens,’’ said first-year Sissonville coach D.J. Williams. “And it’s killing him. He’d give anything to be out there.’’
Williams said Pinkerton’s presence was missed in Tuesday’s opening 78-54 loss at Logan.
“Team-wise, he’s our leader,’’ Williams said. “He gets those guys, he holds those guys accountable. He really works hard and he brings it every time. I think the guys were looking a little bit for that [at Logan], and we were missing it.’’
The level of play in Class AA this season is expected to be high, in part because of the type of players returning from last season.
Five of the eight first-team all-staters from last season are back with their respective clubs this year — the Fairmont Senior duo of Taevon Horton and Zyon Dobbs, Chapmanville’s Drew Williamson, Mingo Central’s Jeremy Dillon and Bluefield’s Mookie Collier.
In Class AAA, only three underclassmen from last year’s all-state first team return — Mikal Dawson (Huntington), Justin Phillips (George Washington) and Corey Barnett (Martinsburg).
In single-A, just two first-teamers are back — Brent Price of Wheeling Central and Tyler May of Tug Valley.