Hurricane debuts vs. No. 2 Woodrow
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Don't expect Woodrow Wilson coach Ron Kidd to be part of the welcoming committee for Hurricane's first visit to the boys basketball state tournament today.
He'd just as soon make the Redskins feel a bit uncomfortable.
That's why he's hoping for a big start from his squad when the No. 2-seeded Flying Eagles (21-4) take on the No. 7 Redskins (20-5) at approximately 11:15 a.m. today in the Class AAA quarterfinals at the Civic Center.
"Oh, I think we'd like to jump on them early,'' Kidd said. "They're playing with a whole lot of confidence. They believe. We're going to have to bring it for sure.
"It shouldn't give our kids any problems [playing at the Civic Center]. Plus, I feel like we've played in some big games at the Big Atlantic Classic in Beckley, the MSAC championship [at the South Charleston Community Center] and the sectionals [at Brushfork Armory]. It's different shooting in places like that.''
Both teams have been playing at a high level in recent weeks, with Woodrow winning 17 in a row and Hurricane 12 of its last 13, with the lone loss coming by one point to state-ranked George Washington.
Still, Redskins coach Lance Sutherland has to wonder if his players will experience any jitters - this being the first time for their school at the state tournament, and going against a program like Woodrow, which owns 16 state championships in basketball.
"Just like I said before we played Logan in the regional,'' Sutherland said, "if we can get over what it says on the front of the jersey, we'll be OK.
"This is a great group of kids, and they don't seem rattled by anything. They don't get too high or too low. In the overtime game against Logan, they were smiling and talking to each other. They got four more minutes to have some fun. At one point in that game, we were down by five and they told me, 'We've got this one, coach.' And they did. I haven't seen them rattled by anything.''
Sutherland thinks the ankle injury that's slowed senior point guard Rasaan Harris is almost back to 100 percent health. Harris (12.1) is the team's third-leading scorer behind Henry Sorsaia and Trey Dawson, each at 14.1 points per game.
Harris has made a believer out of more than one opponent along the way.
"He's really won a lot of respect from me this year,'' said Logan coach Mark Hatcher, "because he does it all. He's everywhere. He takes charge, he dives on the floor, he leads the team in rebounds half the time. He wants the ball.''
For Woodrow Wilson, Donte Nabors (21.1) leads the way, followed by Andrew Johnson (12.6) and Chase Hancock (11.6).
Both teams seem to prefer a quick pace. The Flying Eagles have racked up at least 74 points in 12 of their last 13 games, while the Redskins have scored 75 or more points six times during their recent hot streak.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.