A 13-game winning streak turned into a two-game losing skid when Lanham, Md.-based Princeton Day Academy visited West Virginia for the King Coal Classic in Logan.
First, Huntington (W.Va.) Prep defeated the Storm 71-50 before host Logan downed Princeton Day 74-59.
The Storm was 33-3 last season and ranked sixth in the final poll for the National Private School Athletic Association. Princeton Day boasts 6-foot-9 Eric McKnight, a thin, but developing, Division I prospect.
While Logan doesn't feature many Division I athletes – guard Noah Cottrill is headed for West Virginia University – the Wildcats appear to be the Mountain State's top team.
The Wildcats' only losses are to Mountain State Academy and City College High School (Md.), and they own two victories with only six players – Logan had several players suspended for two games after they left the bench during an incident two weeks ago.
Logan's leader is Cottrill, but is also helped by the increasing improvement of guard/forward Deyonta Coleman. On a team not blessed with overwhelming quickness, Coleman provides the Wildcats with a defensive presence and a scoring touch. He had 26 points in the victory over Princeton Day.
The Wildcats, among the state's all-time great basketball powerhouses, are coached by former Wildcat player Mark Hatcher. Their second-leading scorer is Paul Herbert Williamson, the son of former Marshall standout Andy Paul Williamson.
Logan spent some time in Class AA. It won the 2005 title, reached the finals in 2007 and lost in the semifinals in 2006 and 2008. The Wildcats moved to Class AAA last season, but missed the state tournament after playing most of the second half of the season without point guard Brantz O'Briant.
Among the other teams expected to challenge for a West Virginia Class AAA state title is George Washington. There are no stars on the Patriots, but they are loaded with depth, scorers and are among the best man-to-man defensive teams in the state.
GW is helped by the presence of 6-7 Tyquane Goard in the middle. On offense, the Patriots have a bevy of scoring guards that include point guard De'quon Miller and senior shooting guard Tony Lacy, sophomore forward Thomas Francke – a late arrival to the team – and freshmen Luke Eddy and Ryan Switzer.
The Wildcats and Patriots were scheduled to meet on Friday in the King Coal Classic, but the coaches agreed to alter the schedule.
Logan will be heavily favored to win Class AAA's Region 4, while George Washington will be the favorite to win Region 3, likely giving the teams the top two seeds in the state tournament, setting up a championship game meeting.
If this appears to be too early, consider the only loss between the teams are Logan's defeats to nationally ranked Mountain State Academy and City College High School (Md.). City College is ranked third among Baltimore teams.
Here are the top five teams in each class according to current level of play:
1. Logan – Spot was a coin toss between Logan and George Washington. Shorthanded Wildcats' pair of wins over quality opponents Winfield and Wheeling Park win the tiebreaker.
2. George Washington – Is 11-0 and has won every game by at least 12 points except for a four-point win over Capital.
3. Capital – Has lost once (to GW) and is the only team to defeat South Charleston.
4. Wheeling Park – Patriots' only loss is at Logan (by 15 points).
5. Parkersburg South – Lost by 12 points to George Washington and avenged only other defeat to Zanesville (Ohio). Visits Wheeling Park in battle of Patriots on Friday.
1. Wyoming East – Only loss is to Logan and was state runner-up last year.
2. Oak Hill – Doesn't play the state's strongest schedule, and has a road loss to Wyoming East.
3. Magnolia – Undefeated, including an 18-point road victory against Class AAA rival John Marshall.
4. Bluefield – A toss-up for this position between the Beavers and Weir
5. Weir – Red Riders have lost twice, including a two-point road loss to John Marshall. Could be two best teams in Class AA, Region 1.
1. Parkersburg Catholic – Has lost twice, but 27-point victory over Charleston Catholic can't be ignored.
2. Charleston Catholic – Has one loss (to Parkersburg Catholic) and defeated defending Class A champion Wheeling Central on the road.
3. St. Joseph – Not the most challenging schedule, but owns 17-point victory over Class AAA Cabell Midland.
4. Trinity – Has won three consecutive games, including a 20-point victory over Wheeling Central.
5. Wheeling Central – Defending state champ and has won six of the last eight state titles. Plays state's toughest schedule among Class A teams, but has won only five times in 12 games.
Rich Stevens, a sportswriter for the Charleston Daily Mail, covers West Virginia for MaxPreps.