One of those two games, as it turns out, could be perhaps the most important regular-season game of the year for Huntington - Wednesday's date at South Charleston. The No. 2 Highlanders and No. 5 Black Eagles (8-1) are expected to duel for the West Division title in the Mountain State Athletic Conference, which earns a spot in the league's championship game on Feb. 22.
At first, it seemed as if the Highlanders would catch a break with Nick's absence.
Those two games looked to be Saturday's 65-60 loss at George Washington and Monday's game against Logan. Since neither was a West Division game, those outcomes wouldn't have affected the Highlanders' Night of Champions status. Only MSAC division games determine participants in the league's title game, the runner-up game and the accompanying place-winner games.
Then Monday's home game against Logan was called off by the threat of more wintry weather. Prior to that, over the course of nine games in January for Huntington, the only two that weren't divisional games were GW and Logan.
"Of course, you want to win every game,'' said Huntington coach Ron Hess after Saturday's loss at GW. "You never look at it that way. We thought we had a good game plan [at GW]. We thought we could get them.''
Waxing hot at Wayne
The breakthrough season continues for Wayne, which last week won at Class AA co-No. 5 Chapmanville 62-59 in overtime. It keeps the Pioneers (7-4) afloat for just their second winning season since joining the Cardinal Conference in 1999.
Earlier this season, Wayne beat county rival Tolsia, which had previously won 58 of 59 games between the teams, and also broke a three-season, 19-game conference losing streak. On Monday, for the first time in many years, the Pioneers received votes in the Associated Press state poll.
The school has fielded traditionally strong football and baseball programs, but boys basketball has lagged behind until this season.
"One thing that hurts us,'' said coach Sam Cochenour, "is that we start our season Dec. 6. We do very little in the off-season, so our guys haven't played together very much. And the Cardinal Conference is tough.''
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickr...@wvgazette.com.