The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

March 9, 2014

Beckley native has Charleston riding high

Biddy-Buddy titles to be decided today

By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor

BECKLEY — Go into Van Meter Gymnasium today for the fifth-grade championship game of the Wendy’s/YMCA Biddy-Buddy All-Star Tournament and you might swear a Beckley team would be on the floor.

It would only appear that way, because the Charleston Cavaliers have mimicked the Beckley style and parlayed it into — what else? — championship basketball.

The Cavaliers will face familiar foe Team Air/TOGS for the fifth-grade title at the 42nd annual tournament. Both teams are among the nation’s best on the AAU circuit. Charleston, in fact, was at one point the best, winning three straight USBA national championships from 2011-2013.

And the group that will face Team Air — a team the Cavaliers defeated three times en route to their three titles — was national runner-up each of the last two seasons.

Charleston is coached by Beckley-based attorney David Kirkpatrick, a 1989 Woodrow Wilson graduate and a cousin of current Flying Eagles coach Ron Kidd. Kirkpatrick lives in Charleston but commutes weekly to his native Beckley.

The Cavaliers — the reigning AAU and USBA state champions — have taken a page from the Woodrow Wilson playbook. With 16 state championships and Kirkpatrick being an alumnus, that only makes sense.

“What we have done is essentially taken the Beckley brand of basketball and imported it to Charleston,” Kirkpatrick said.

The fifth-grade roster is comprised mostly of Charleston-area players, although there is one from Ravenswood, two from Kentucky and two from Hurricane.

Most of the players who live in Charleston wind up either at South Charleston or George Washington, while a few go to Capital. Ironically, South Charleston and GW played Saturday for the Class AAA Region 3, Section 1 championship. South Charleston won 63-56, meaning the Black Eagles will host Greenbrier East and GW will visit the Flying Eagles on Tuesday for a pair of berths in the state tournament.

Among the Cavalier alumni is South Charleston sophomore Brandon Knapper, who lit up Woodrow for 40 points in a win over the Eagles back on Feb. 11.

Charleston’s sixth-grade team also is in the tournament, but lost what Kirkpatrick called “a tough game” to the Blue and Gold Storm — out of Morgantown, like Team Air — in the semifinals. It will be the first time a Charleston Cavaliers team did not play for a Biddy-Buddy title since it started coming in 2006.

Ricky Law, a Beckley resident, is on Charleston’s sixth-grade team.

Team Air, making its Biddy-Buddy debut, is ranked No. 21 in the preseason Division II AAU poll.

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James Green and the West Virginia Ice are in the exact position they wanted to be.

The Ice has the opportunity today to go out on top, with a championship in the eighth-grade division of the Wendy’s/YMCA Biddy-Buddy All-Star Tournament. The Ice will take on West Virginia Renegades at Woodrow Wilson High School (court 2).

A win would make the Ice a three-time tournament champion. It also won the sixth- and seventh-grade titles.

“That is one of our arch-rivals,” Green said of his team’s semifinal win over the West Virginia Wildcats. “We’ve been going back and forth with the Wildcats for about three or four years in the (AAU) state tournament. ... I love playing for the championship.”

The Renegades, out of Wyoming County, got a measure of revenge for the guys at Westside High by beating the West Virginia Reign in the semifinals. The Reign is based out of Fairmont; Westside lost to Fairmont Senior last month.

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The West Virginia Ice will battle the Blue and Gold Storm in the sixth-grade game at Park Middle School, while SWV Future will meet the Riverside Flyers, based in Lawrence County, Ohio, for the seventh-grade title at Woodrow (court 1). ... The fourth-grade title game could be dubbed “The Battle of Cabell County.” Huntington 4th will battle the Barboursville Pirates at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia. ... All championship games will start at 1 p.m.

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber.