CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- It's shaping up to be quite a season in Kanawha Valley Class AAA basketball.
At least a half-dozen teams have flashed their talent in the season's opening two weeks, led by 4-0 Winfield.
The Generals picked up their best win to date in the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hoops Classic at the Civic Center on Friday, shading Wheeling Park 64-63.
The Patriots came to town with a 2-0 record courtesy of comfortable wins over Preston and University.
Winfield, without a true presence in the low post, had managed to outscore its first three opponents, racking up 83-plus points per game.
"It's just all about playing as a group and as a team,'' said Generals coach Pat McGinnis. "This group likes one another and plays well together. If you look at our warmups, on the back it says: 'It's about the team, the team, the team.' That's kind of been our motto.''
Instead of masking its deficiencies, Winfield plays to its strengths - five-man ball-handling, perimeter shooting and scrappy defense, often trapping and fullcourt pressure.
"Our defense is pretty much fullcourt man-to-man the whole game,'' McGinnis said. "We told the kids we're going to live and die by that. It's what we're going to do.
"A lot of times we don't get steals out of our traps, but you speed [opposing players] up and they can't get into the rhythm they want, they can't get into their offense. Then maybe they take a quick shot or a bad shot. Sometimes they speed down the floor and miss it, and we get it and go the other way.''
Other Kanawha Valley teams off to solid starts so far are South Charleston (2-0), Capital (2-0), Riverside (1-0), George Washington (3-1) and Hurricane (2-1). The lone losses by GW and Hurricane both came to unbeaten Capital.
All that quality bunching should prove interesting when the Mountain State Athletic Conference begins divisional play on Jan. 23. Teams that finish atop the league's East and West Divisions meet during the MSAC Night of Champions Feb. 22 at the SC Community Center.
Capital's burst may be the most impressive of anyone's, since the teams it beat are a combined 5-0 in games other than the ones against the Cougars. Senior guard Carrington Morris averages 26.5 points in two outings.
Riverside, which hasn't posted a winning season since 2002-03, showed some promise last year, beating GW in sectional play. The Warriors' only senior, guard Tyus Wood, dropped in 32 points in Friday's 76-70 win over Class A power Magnolia at the Hoops Classic.
SC is perhaps the team facing the biggest makeover to keep its status as a Kanawha Valley contender.
The Black Eagles, who have played in seven straight state tournaments, return just one full-time starter, A.D. Cunningham, a third-team all-state selection last season. Brandon Knapper and Kentre Grier played a lot at season's end.
Coach Vic Herbert has had to mesh players like 6-foot-5 Anthony Billings and Jordan Lewis, neither of whom was eligible to compete last season, along with five or six other potential contributors.