CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- South Charleston and Hurricane each face a big challenge today as they compete in the Hatfield-McCoy Shootout at the Williamson Field House.
The eight-game hoopsfest, which pits boys basketball teams from Kentucky and West Virginia, tips off at 11 a.m. (See schedule, Page 2B.)
SC (7-1), ranked No. 7 in Class AAA, squares off against Knott County Central, Ky. (13-3) at approximately 8 p.m.
Knott is led by all-state candidate Camron Justice, a 6-foot-2, 175-pound junior who has committed to Tennessee. He averaged 25.4 points last season and has already surpassed 2,000 career points.
Two of Knott County's losses have come to Kentucky top-10 teams - Lexington Catholic and Newport Catholic, the latter by just three points.
Hurricane (6-2), meanwhile, tackles unbeaten Greater Beckley Christian (7-0), the No. 2 team in Class A. That game is set for 5 p.m.
The talented Crusaders rely on 6-1 junior Elisha Kidd (23 points per game) and 5-11 senior Javonne Staunton-Bailey (18.2 points, 8.7 rebounds, 5.3 assists, 3.8 steals). GBC cranks out 81 points per game.
For Hurricane, it's the continuation of a long and challenging road in recent days.
Over the course of 10 days (Jan. 9-18), the Redskins play road games against Point Pleasant, Woodrow Wilson, Princeton, Riverside and now Greater Beckley in Williamson.
For extra credit, Hurricane has a date against Parkersburg South in the Big Atlantic Classic in Beckley on Jan. 31. Coach Lance Sutherland likened it to an NBA schedule.
"It's like six road games in a row,'' he said. "And it doesn't get any easier after that, with George Washington, South Charleston and Winfield the following week. A fun, fun, fun schedule.
"Like I've said, we'll get there. We'll be OK. It's just being fundamentally sound.''
A third Mountain State Athletic Conference team, Ripley (1-8), also appears in a 12:30 p.m. Hatfield-McCoy game against Pike County Central, Ky. (8-5).
Frankie Smith, who coached Tug Valley to the 1999 Class AA state title, returns to Mingo County as coach of Sheldon Clark, Ky. (10-4), and will go against his old team. Tug (4-3) is a two-time defending West Virginia state champion.
Mark Whitt serves as tournament director.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or email@example.com.