By Paul Adkins
CHAPMANVILLE — Anticipation has been high for days for the Chapmanville-Mingo Central high school boys’ basketball game. The Tigers and Miners are both Cardinal Conference and Class AA sectional foes , so that makes for a good matchup for starters.
But the added twist was the unknown — the Dixson cousins — and that’s what brought out even more curious onlookers to a packed Chapmanville Regional High School’s Danny Godby Gymnasium on Wednesday night.
Mingo Central’s Dikembe Dixson, a 6-foot-7 transfer guard from Bardstown, Ky., had made his Miners’ debut the night before in MC’s home win over Mount View and wowed the crowd with a couple of dunks.
On Wednesday, Dixson played his first away game at Chapmanville.
It was a competitive and spirited game as the Class AA No. 6-ranked Tigers prevailed, 54-45, over Mingo Central to improve to 12-3 overall and 7-2 in the Cardinal Conference. The Miners, which lost 53-27 at home to Chapmanville on Jan. 15, dropped to 6-7, 3-4.
Dixson finished with 17 points to lead all scorers. He blocked four shots, altered several others and made his presense known on the defensive side of the court.
Chapmanville, though, seemed to negate his size advantage with the combined inside play of 6-5 Brady Cox, 6-4 Kenny Plumley, 6-2 Zac Casto and 6-2 Jon Williamson.
The Tigers also limited Dixson’s open-court transition game and made him shoot jumpers.
It worked for Chapmanville as the Tigers won on Senior Night in their home finale. Honored before the game were Chapmanville’s three seniors — Cox, Plumley and Williamson. It was a big day for Cox, who scored 10 points and earlier in the day had signed a national letter of intent to play college football at Division II West Virginia State.
Plumley led Chapmanville with 16 points. Williamson had two. The Tigers also got 12 points from Josh Butcher, eight from Joe Tackett, four from Trey Dalton and two from Casto.
Chapmanville coach Allan Hatcher said it was a good win for his team, which had lost 53-43 at home last Saturday night to No. 4-ranked Poca, which currently sits in first place in the Cardinal standings with the Tigers right behind in second.
“Any time you win a Cardinal Conference game it’s special,” Hatcher said. “That was a good one tonight. We scrapped and battled all night long. The Dixson kid has added a lot of athletic ability to that team. He’s as good as everyone says he is. But I want to complement our kids. I thought we fought and battled and got a lot of loose balls tonight.”
Hatcher said Plumley went toe-to-toe with Dixson.
“I’m really proud of our team and I’m really proud of Kenny Plumley,” Hatcher said. “Kenny grew up tonight and I really thought that he played hard. He went right at the new kid Dixson. We practice hard and we play hard. We haven’t played much over the last couple of weeks. We hit a period there where we weren’t in school and we kind of got out of our routine but I think that we’re getting better. That was a good win for us.”
Mingo Central was one Dixson short on Wednesday night.
Montrell Dixson, a 6-6 forward who came to Mingo Central with his cousin Dikembe, did not dress. He is reportedly having academic issues.
Dikembe Dixson has been a journeyman prep basketball player. Two years ago, he played his high school ball at Ashland (Ky.) Paul Blazer. Last year, he played for Thomas Nelson High School in the Bluegrass State.
Mingo Central makes three schools in three years.
The Miners are coached by Harts native and former longtime Logan High School assistant Brad Napier.
“Brad Napier does a good job at Mingo Central,” Hatcher said. “They are just going to get better and better. We are too.”
The Tigers never trailed and led 16-12 after one quarter, 26-21 at the half and 38-32 after three.
The Miners, which also got 12 points from Alex Lee, pulled to within two points in the third quarter and three in the fourth and stayed close throughout the game but failed to at least pull even. CRHS led by as many as nine.
“I thought Chapmanville played really well,” Napier said. “We gave them a better game this time than the last time obviously. They out-battled us on the boards and they really hurt us on second shots, especially in the first half. We have to do a better job on the boards and with loose balls.”
Napier said Dixson must learn the Miners’ system quickly with the Class AA sectional tourney fast approaching.
“There’s a lot of things that he still does not know,” Napier said. “We’re trying to get him in as much as we can and get him used to everybody. He’s very athletic but he has to do a better job of rebounding. As high as he jumps, him and Lee, they still got outrebounded tonight by guys that were a little bit stronger.”
Mingo Central was 8-for-11 from the free throw line. Chapmanville was only 4-for-9.
Down by six after three, the Miners tried to make a move.
Mingo Central cut it to 38-35 as Dixson hit 3-of-4 free throws. It was 40-35 after Butcher drained a 15-footer.
Then with 6:08 left, Casto looked to make it a seven-point bulge but had his drive down the lane rejected off the glass by a leaping Dixson.
Lee then pulled the Miners to within 40-37 with 6:01 to go after hitting a pair of free throws. It was only 43-41 after Lee’s jumper.
Plumley then scored in the paint over Dixson and Cox scored down on the blocks as the Tigers ran it up to 47-41 with 2:12 left.
Tackett then scored a hoop before Dixson flew down the lane for a runner off the window as the Miners trailed 49-43 with 1:11 left. Plumley then put it away with a three-point play at the 1:02 mark to make it 52-43. Plumley put the win on ice with 24.9 ticks to go as he sank a pair of free throws.
Score by quarters:
Mingo Central - 12 9 11 11 - 43
Chapmanville - 16 10 12 16 - 54
Mingo - May 2, D. Hatfield 5, Lee 12, Hatcher 3, Dillon 3, Dixon 17.
C’ville - Dalton 4, Butcher 12, Tackett 8, Cox 10, Plumley 16, Casto 2, Williamson 2.