By Jim Workman
Assistant Managing Editor
Playing .500 basketball would be palatable for some basketball programs.
But that’s certainly not “Beckley Basketball.”
Sitting at 4-4 early this season was not sitting well with anyone associated with Woodrow Wilson boys basketball, perhaps the state’s proudest and most esteemed high school athletic program.
The Flying Eagles shook off the early season funk and are now on a roll, including Friday night’s smashing of visiting St. Albans, 75-41.
Woodrow Wilson has won 11 in a row. The Class AAA No. 3 state-ranked Flying Eagles raised their record to 15-4 on the season.
It was the ninth consecutive loss for St. Albans (4-14).
“Our kids have confidence in what they’re doing now,” said Woodrow Wilson coach Ron Kidd. “At first it wasn’t pretty, but they fought through it.”
To say that the Flying Eagles are playing with a lot of momentum on their side may be an understatement.
“I hope we keep on riding it,” Kidd said. “If you play hard, good things happen.”
Junior guard Donte Nabors led all scorers with 22 points, including three 3-pointers. Teammate Nequan Carrington, a 6-3 freshman post player, came off the bench to net 18 points on eight field goals and a perfect 2-for-2 on the free throw line.
“I thought we needed him to score more on the inside,” Kidd said of Carrington. “In the first half, our legs looked dead. We looked tired. He did a good job.”
Junior forward Chase Hancock added 12 points for Beckley.
The turning point against St. Albans came late in the second quarter and continued the entire third quarter: Leading by just three points, 30-27 with 1:55 to go in the first half, the Flying Eagles went on a tear. Beckley allowed just one field goal over an almost nine-and-a-half minute span while going on a 30-5 run.
For the game, St. Albans got 15 points from Nathan McNeil, including three 3s. Quamise Carter chipped in with 11 for the Red Dragons.
One downside to Woodrow’s victory was its performance at the free throw line: a mere 11 of 24 (46 percent) from the charity stripe.
“That’s a sign of not being focused,” Kidd pointed out. “We were 14 of 17 (against Riverside the night before). “We’ll have to do better.”
Woodrow had a nice stretch last week, winning four games, including two at the Big Atlantic Classic which earned the Flying Eagles a AAA division tournament championship trophy.
It also saw Beckley leap in the Associated Press Class AAA boy’s poll from No. 10 to No. 3 in the state.
This week, the Flying Eagles have continued to take care of business with easy wins over Mountain State Athletic Conference foes Ripley and Riverside.
The victory at Riverside on Thursday night clinched the MSAC East Division title for Woodrow Wilson.
The Flying Eagles will play in the MSAC boys championship Feb. 16 at the South Charleston Community Center against the West Division champion, perhaps current Class AAA No. 1 ranked South Charleston, 15-1 so far.
“We never really thought much about that (MSAC titles),” Kidd said. “But our Athletic Director has put up the (MSAC) banners in the gym. That’s helped our kids realize that it’s an accomplishment.”
That game may give the Flying Eagles a chance to redeem one of its losses, a 51-44 setback at home on Jan. 8 that came in the midst of a three game losing streak.
But first things first: Woodrow Wilson will face local rival Wyoming East Monday at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center in its next regular season contest. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors (12-5) are ranked No. 7 in Class AA.
“We don’t look at Wyoming East as a (Class) AA team,” Kidd said. “They’re good. They can play. They’ll come in here and compete. It’s going to be a real big game.”