Last updated: July 17. 2013 3:38PM - 265 Views

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Kyle Lovern

Sports Editor

There is a lot of interest in who will be hired for the Mingo Central basketball position. The job unexpectedly came open after Frankie Smith left and went to Sheldon Clark in Martin County.

My sources tell me that interviews are scheduled to start today.

There are several potential candidates. One is Walt Cline, who came in last year to help out Duane Estepp. Cline was the former head coach at Gilbert. He is also the baseball coach at MCHS and is a teacher at Burch Elementary. Cline graduated from Matewan High School.

Robbie Browning, the Gilbert native, who is a coach in North Carolina, is also a candidate. Browning played high school basketball at both Williamson and Gilbert. He played college basketball at Bluefield State.

There are other names that have been rumored as being interested, but nothing has been confirmed. They include Curt Fletcher, who was the longtime coach at Williamson High School. Fletcher played for Williamson back in the 1960s.

David Hatfield, another former Williamson head coach, was rumored to be interested. He had moved from Mingo County, W.Va. to the Pike County, Ky. school system. He then coached briefly at Belfry.

Both Fletcher and Hatfield are retired as teachers, but could apply for a coaching position again.

Bobby Varney, the young coach at Phelps High School, is another name that has popped up.

Brad Napier, the assistant coach at Logan High School, is said to have applied again. He attempted to get the job the first two times it was posted.

Current Tug Valley assistant coach Stan Elkins was a potential candidate, but my sources say he did not apply this time. He will stay on at Tug Valley as one of their assistant coaches. The Panthers have a chance to go back-to-back and win another state title this spring.

Estepp, who came from Lincoln County, headed up the boys’ team the first year for the new consolidated school. He resigned last year during the week of the state tournament.

Smith was hired back in the summer, but then decided to move to Martin County a couple of weeks ago.

Practice officially starts on November 15 in West Virginia. So that date is just right around the corner.

This will be an important hire by the school administration and the Mingo County Board of Education. Of course, the state still has control of the local BOE. Any decision has to be approved by the state BOE.

The job was posted last week and bids and resumes were taken for a 5-day period.

As soon as the hiring is official, we’ll have the story here in the Williamson Daily News.


Paul Herbert Williamson, a former all-state player at Logan, has left the basketball program at the University of Charleston, according to UC coach Mark Downey.

Paul Herbert Williamson, a former all-state player at Logan, has left the basketball program at the University of Charleston, according to UC coach Mark Downey.

Williamson played his college freshman season (2011-12) at West Virginia, and then transferred to UC this past summer. He averaged 19.5 points per game in helping the Logan Wildcats to the Class AAA state championship in 2009 and averaged 24.7 points during his senior season, nearly eclipsing 2,000 career points.

… A limited number of singles, no two seats together, for the Kansas State game on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Milan Puskar Stadium, are available for purchase at the Mountaineer Ticket Office. Tickets can be purchased by calling 1-800-WVU GAME or in person at the Mountaineer Ticket Office in the WVU Coliseum. Tickets are not available on-line.

… Anyone interested in becoming a member of the Tug Valley Basketball Officials Board and becoming a registered WVSSAC referee should call Mark Whitt at 304-235-0370. The class begins on Monday, October 29, at the Mingo County Courthouse.

… Congrats to Mingo Central soccer player Austin Banks for getting the first hat trick in school history. (A hat trick is three goals in one game by the same person.) Remember Marquis Cunningham scored the first-ever actual goal for Mingo Central last year.

… It was sad to see where Donnie Butcher passed away. Butcher, a former All-American at Pikeville College, played five years in the NBA. He later coached the Detroit Pistons. During his playing career, Butcher played for both the Pistons and Knicks. I had a chance to interview him back in the early 1990s. At that time he was a Converse marketing representative. After the interview, he sent me some Converse basketball posters of Larry Bird and Magic Johnson. He was a class act.

(Kyle Lovern is the sports editor for the Williamson Daily News. Comments or story ideas can be sent to klovern@williamsondailynews.com)

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