CHAPMANVILLE — The Allan Hatcher era has begun at Chapmanville Regional High School.
Hatcher, a longtime high school coach in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and the former head coach at the old Williamson High School where he won a state championship, is set to begin his first year with the Tigers in just a couple of weeks.
Hatcher replaces Harry Kirk, who resigned this past summer as the Chapmanville coach after three seasons.
Hatcher, the father of Logan High School head coach Mark Hatcher, has an impressive resume.
Last year, he led Perry Central (Ky.) to a 23-5 worksheet — a season after leading the Commodores to their first ever 14th Regional title and trip to Kentucky’s Sweet Sixteen state tournament at Rupp Arena in Lexington.
Hatcher took three Kentucky teams to the Sweet Sixteen — Graves County six times, Marshall County four times and Perry Central once.
Hatcher arrived at Perry Central in 2007, following a stint in Graves County, Ky. In the past, he also has had coaching positions at Marshall County, Morehead State University and at Western Kentucky University on his resume.
He began his career as an assistant coach under the legendary Willie Akers at his alma-mater Logan High School from 1974-78. Logan won back-to-back Class AAA state titles in 1977 and 1978 while on Akers’ staff. He graduated from LHS in 1969.
In the last few months, Hatcher has been getting used to his new surroundings at Chapmanville and has implemented his new hands-on system.
So far, he said he likes what he’s seen.
“Things are going really well,” Hatcher said. “These kids have worked their tails off.”
Hatcher’s style was best described last Saturday morning during picture day.
With the official team photographer running late and sending word he would be over an hour tardy, Hatcher seized the moment.
Instead of having his players stand around, goof off and socialize for more than an hour, Hatcher had his Tigers put on their practice jerseys to work through some more drills.
With the season just two weeks away there is no time to waste.
Then when the photographer finally showed up at around 10:30 a.m., Hatcher’s players went to the locker room to put on their jerseys for the team photo.
For Hatcher, every minute of practice is important to his team’s goal of daily improvement.
“They’ve jumped right in and have been real receptive,” Hatcher said of his team. “They have let us coach them and I’m real excited. They’ve worked real hard for us. When the kids let you coach them and they work at a full 100 percent you’ve got a chance to have a good basketball team. I’ve been real excited about their work ethic.”
The Tigers finished 16-8 last season under Kirk and lost 58-43 to Tolsia in the Class AA sectional tournament at Logan. Chapmanville was 10-4 in the Cardinal Conference.
Chapmanville went 45-26 the last three seasons, including a Cardinal Conference co-championship in 2010.
The Tigers rebounded from a 4-win season in 2009 but still missed their ultimate goal: reaching the state boys’ basketball tournament for the first time in school history.
Chapmanville has come close several times in its past under former coaches Danny Godby, Dave Elkins and Kirk, often falling in the Class AA regional championship game.
Hatcher said he would like to get the Tigers to Charleston as soon as possible.
It won’t be easy.
It never is.
But if there is one silver (and black) lining it is this.
Tug Valley, Chapmanville’s old arch nemesis, is no longer in the Tigers’ Class AA sectional as the Panthers have dropped down to Single-A status. Tug Valley won the 2A state title last year and often beat Chapmanville in the regional championship game in the Tigers’ recent basketball history. Chapmanville had only beaten Tug Valley a handful of times dating back to 2000 in nearly 30 meetings.
Chapmanville doesn’t play Tug Valley during the regular season.
With three returning seniors back for the Tigers, including 6-foot-4 Mackenzie Martin, guards Michael Hurst and Dustin Smith and a host of other returning role players, Chapmanville hopes to make another run at the state tourney.
The Tigers are scheduled to tip off the season Dec. 11 at home against Herbert Hoover. Chapmanville then hosts sectional foe Mingo Central on Dec. 14 in a key early season battle. The Miners are coached by former longtime Logan assistant Brad Napier, who is entering his first season.
CRHS has two preseason games — Nov. 30 at home against Cabell Midland and Dec. 4 at home against Westside. Both have 6 p.m. tip times.
Hatcher said he’s excited to get started.
“It’s exciting,” Hatcher said. “We’re starting a new program here. I’m excited and I know our kids are excited. What we are doing is keeping on working and getting better every day. What we want to do is play our best basketball when the sectional tournament comes around.”
Hatcher said the reception has been real positive.
“It’s been real positive at Chapmanville Regional High School as far as the basketball program is concerned,” he said.
Hatcher said the sky is the limit for the Tigers.
“It’s a challenge,” he said. “We want to not just go to the state tournament. We want to win the state tournament. These kids are excited about it. Everything that we’ve done is designed for us to get better each day. When you an improve everything else will take care of itself. We’ve got good enough size and our kids have been in the weight room. We’ve gotten stronger and we’re going to stay in the weight room and continue to get stronger.”
Hatcher said his four seniors players — Martin, Hurst, Smith and Denver Adkins — have been fantastic.
“I’ve got good leadership from my four seniors,” he said.