Coal Field Shootout notebook: Unbeaten Buffalo picks up another blowout win
MADISON, W.Va. - Buffalo hopes its trip to the Madison Civic Center on Saturday leads to the Charleston Civic Center in March.
The Bison are starting to resemble a team that has the potential for a postseason run after dispatching River View 74-35 in the Coal Field Shootout.
"It does you good to get out and see different teams and play in different venues like this, a nice open space,'' said Buffalo coach Chuck Elkins, who has scheduled the Coal Field Shootout the past several seasons. "See how well you shoot the ball with different backdrops. It's nice to get away from home and go play. We're one of those teams we'll go and play anybody anywhere.''
Buffalo (3-0) has an unbeaten record after taking care of South Gallia (Ohio), Wahama and River View by an average margin of victory of 23 points.
"We're doing all right,'' Elkins said. "We're finally getting our tempo up. We're not doing quite as well in transition as we'd like to do. Otherwise, we're shooting the ball pretty good right now and we've got some good athletes. We're going to run and shoot and see how far it takes us.''
Buffalo will have to navigate a new regional tournament alignment to get back to Charleston for the first time since 2006. The Bison will contend with Charleston Catholic, Hannan, St. Joseph and Wahama in the sectional as in years past, but will face new regional foes in Calhoun County, Doddridge County, Gilmer County, Parkersburg Catholic, Williamstown and Wirt County.
"We've got a tremendously tough region,'' said Elkins. "We'll know a little more about that after Christmas. We're playing in a tournament with Wirt and Williamstown so we'll see what it's like up there.
"This being the first year in the new regional, I really don't know what to expect from the northern teams. We know how tough [Charleston] Catholic is. I think we're going to be all right by the end of the season. We're going to have some more depth and we're getting some kids knowing where they're going.''
Elkins said he enjoys coaching this group that has several players from the football team, which advanced to the opening round of the Class A playoffs.
"I just like this group of guys,'' said the Buffalo coach. "They just play hard and nobody's selfish. Everybody shares the ball and plays their role. Just a good bunch of kids.''
Scott coach Nick Cabell has kept alive the Coal Field Shootout that he and then-head coach Jason Kingery started four years ago. The Shootout has grown to include teams from Kentucky, Ohio, North Carolina and Pennsylvania.
"We always went to a Christmas tournament for some type of tournament in December every year and I looked at him one day and I said, 'Why don't we put one on ourselves?' '' said Cabell, who was an assistant under Kingery.
"He said, 'You know how much work that is?' I said, 'No.' He said, 'Well, I do. If you help me we'll pull it off.' We worked together and got it going. That first year went pretty smooth and the next year it went even better''
Cabell said the event has become an institution in the Boone County town.
"For us it's more for the community and the atmosphere,'' he said. "Just come out and get a good day's worth of basketball. Our fans enjoy basketball. Just let them see what basketball is like in other parts of the country. It's just a good day for everybody.''
Scott is off to a 3-0 start this year after finishing with a 7-16 record last season with mostly underclassmen.
"There's still a lot of things we have to get better at,'' said Cabell, who was on the coaching staff that helped the Skyhawks reach the Class AA state tournament title game in 2011. "We're still young. We're starting three sophomores.
"I think all the summer ball that we've played has made them juniors now. We've still got a long way to come. We're going to get more confidence and by sectional time we'll be ready to play. We want to get back to Charleston where we were two years ago. If we keep working there's no doubt in my mind we can.''
Kingery returned to the Coal Field Shootout this weekend.
He guided Scott to a 68-58 record in five seasons and took the Skyhawks to a pair of state tournament berths in five years - the school's only two such seasons since 1943. Kingery left to take the same position at Berwick, Pa., at a school with 1,100 students.
"I left on a high note,'' he said of advancing to the state title game in his last season in 2010 before falling to Oak Hill.
Last season was Kingery's first at Berwick, which won just three games.
"Of course Berwick's known for its football,'' he said. "We're trying to get a basketball program built. The kids are doing everything I ask. This year we have a goal to make it to our district playoffs. I really feel like we're going to do that. These kids have really busted their butts in the offseason. They're wanting to make a state this year.''
Kingery said he is proud to see the Shootout continue to grow.
"Nick Cabell's done a magnificent job," he said. "It was his idea and we ran with it. You can't ask for a better one-day shootout. Hopefully he continues to do it. I know the sponsorships are getting a little bit tougher because of everything going on with the coalmines. I'd love to come down here every year.''
Wyoming East coach Rory Chapman learned a few things about his players Saturday.
Chapman saw a double-digit lead whittled to just a couple before the Warriors held on for a 62-59 victory over Tuscarawas (Ohio) Catholic after a 3-point attempt at the buzzer hit off the front of the rim.
"You have to finish games and play to the final whistle,'' said East coach Rory Chapman on what his team gained from the experience. "We had a 14-point lead and the next thing you know they get two or three good looks and it's a one-, two, three-point game.
"We had a leading scorer out. His backup hurt his arm in the second quarter and left and we found a way to win so I'm pleased with that. We're a young team. We're going to have some growing pains. We don't play many teams that do what they do. It was a good experience for us.''
The Warriors have been a staple at the AA state tournament, winning back-to-back championships in 2007 and 2008 and finishing as runner-up in 2009 and 2010.
"We're going to have to grow a lot,'' said Chapman of making it back to states. "That's our goal every year to win a state championship. We've won them before and played for several others. These kids have to buy in and when they buy in, we'll make it.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.