Scott back in boys title hunt
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Before Jason Kingery left Scott to accept a coaching job in Berwick, Pa., some people regarded him as a miracle worker.
After all, he took a Skyhawks basketball program that went 66 years between state tournament trips and brought them to the big show twice in five years, including a spot in the Class AA championship game in 2011.
When Scott dipped to a 7-16 record last year in Kingery's absence, it looked like the program was starting all over again. Well, not exactly.
The Skyhawks are back at the Charleston Civic Center this week after knocking off state-ranked Poca in the Region 4 co-finals. Scott (15-10), the No. 7 seed, meets No. 2 Fairmont Senior (19-6) at 1 p.m. Thursday.
Along the way, the Skyhawks have navigated a bumpy road.
They shot out to an 8-0 start and in early January were ranked No. 1 in the state in the initial AA poll. Then followed separate losing streaks of four and three games and suddenly, 8-0 was standing at 11-9.
But the Hawks got it back together at the right time, revving it up again for the postseason.
"It feels good to prove all the doubters wrong,'' said senior guard Matt Dolan, the team's top scorer. "That's all I've got to say.
"It is a little bit [surprising]. But this team has been through so much this season, it's unbelievable.''
Few expected the Skyhawks to contend for a state tournament spot this season, not with three sophomores in the starting lineup and only one holdover from the 2011 title-game team in Dolan.
"We talked all week in practice before the [regional],'' said Scott coach Nick Cabell. "For everybody but Matt, this is the biggest game they've played in. Some were on the team [in 2011], but none of them saw any minutes. Matt started that year as a sophomore, and he's the only one that's had any experience.
"He's been a great leader. He's not the most vocal person, but he shows it. He does it with all of his actions. You watch him play and he plays as hard as anybody. He just leads by example.''
Dolan leads the team in scoring, carrying a 17-point average, followed by Eric May (10.5) and Logan Webb (9.2).
But the Skyhawks aren't always about points - not when you play in the defensive-minded Cardinal Conference.
Three teams in the Cardinal allowed less than 50 points per game this season - Poca (42.9), Herbert Hoover (45.9) and Chapmanville (46.0). Tolsia, another AA state tournament entry, just missed at 50.8.
Scott, thusly, has needed to be able to play at all speeds during the course of the season. The Skyhawks won a 39-35 game against Poca and have also won five games each with scores in 50s and 60s, twice in the 70s and twice in the 80s.
"I think it does help us,'' Cabell said, "playing in this conference. Any time you play Poca, you're going to be in that type of game. We would like to be a little bit higher.
"But this game's about nothing but matchups. If you can match up against a team . . . we can play in the 60s and 70s and we can play in the 30s and 40s, just depending on how matchups go.''
In that regard, Cabell delegates a lot of the credit to his assistant coaches - Steve McComas, Johnny Baldwin and Chester Mitchell.
"It says a lot for our team,'' Cabell said. "I think I've got one of the best coaching staffs in the state.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.