Pat McGinnis knows his Winfield team has been flying under the radar so far this season, but when you start out 9-0, the spotlight will eventually find you.
And so it goes for the Generals, who broke into the Class AAA rankings this week as the state's No. 9 team.
"I kind of like flying under the radar a little bit,'' McGinnis said. "You could say we're beating the teams we're supposed to beat and I know we haven't played the upper-echelon teams yet, but we've played all triple-A teams.''
None of the nine teams Winfield has beaten currently sports a winning record and only three of those games have been decided by fewer than 16 points - margins of nine over Parkersburg South (70-61) and Spring Valley (61-52) and eight against Putnam County rival Hurricane (70-62).
That will change in the coming days, as the Generals are scheduled to visit Logan (5-2) Friday, then play at Oak Hill (4-1) on Jan. 14. Further down the schedule are games against Capital and No. 10 Robert C. Byrd.
"Friday night will be our first true test,'' McGinnis said of the trip to Willie Akers Arena in Logan. "It will give us a better gauge to the rest of the season going in there.''
Winfield has relied on a rare combination of both veteran presence and youth.
Two seniors, low post Zach Gunter and point guard Cameron Powell, have played leading roles, with 6-foot-7 Conner Chapman coming off the bench to provide help on the boards.
Sprinkled in there are contributions from a few juniors - 6-3, 260-pound Garrett Grafton, football standout David Gaydosz and 6-5 Brock Pence - along with an astounding 10 sophomores, many of whom also play regularly.
"I think we have a good mix,'' McGinnis said. "We have four guys in double figures [in scoring], and with the 10 sophomores on the team, we can play most any of them at any time. Our schedule has boded well for that early on since we've been beating some teams pretty good. Some of those sophomores are getting a lot of experience.
"It's been a really good combination, a good mixture with good chemistry among our kids. We've played good, solid defense and run our break real well, and spread the scoring around. We're getting points from our people off the bench - even if it's just four or so, we're always getting little contributions there.''
The 6-2 Gunter leads the team in scoring at 17.9 points per game, followed by 5-11 sophomore Josh Fisher (13.8), the 5-8 Powell (13.1) and 6-3 soph Chris Turner (10.3).
"Gunter has been real steady at center,'' McGinnis said. "He's actually pretty small at 6-2, but he boxes out well and runs the floor well. Powell had 13 assists [Tuesday] at Cabell Midland and Gaydosz helps us defensively with his athleticism.''
McGinnis understands that the schedule gets tougher from here on out, and that his youthful team might be ripe for the occasional letdown.
"Sure,'' he said. "The other night against Hurricane, we scored 27 points in the first quarter to go up 27-12, but we turn around and get 10 points the next quarter and they made it a close ballgame. With our younger kids, we're going to see a little bit of that.
"But I'm also seeing some consistency, and I'm real pleased we're finding a way to win games. We're off to a good start, and we want to keep it going.''
Irish eyes weren't smiling