By Cam Huffman
Several area high school boys basketball teams made runs at the top of their respective classes and others ended years of anonymity by turning heads with some quality play.
Both of those storylines are a clear indication of quality coaching, making the selection of The Register-Herald Boys Coach of the Year a difficult task.
Here is a list of the five finalists for the award, selected by the sports staff.
Dan Burd (Greater Beckley) — The Crusaders created plenty of buzz this season, winning 19 games on their way to the second state tournament appearance in school history. The season included a 10-1 start, the only loss to eventual Class A champion Tug Valley. GBC nearly avenged that loss, falling just one point short of an upset, 61-60 at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. The third meeting with Tug Valley, in the sectional championship game, was all Panthers, but GBC rebounded to knock off Valley and get back to Charleston.
Nick Cook (Westside) — The Renegades were on a roller coaster early in the season, matching seemingly every win with a loss. On Jan. 11, Westside was 6-5 and had already lost to county rival Wyoming East once and Fairmont Senior twice. Two months later, Cook’s squad had lost just one more game. A streak of 13 wins in 14 games included three victories over Wyoming East, along with avenging a loss to Logan. Westside captured both sectional and regional titles on the way to a berth in the Class AA state tournament, where they finally bowed out with a loss to Bridgeport, finishing off a 19-7 campaign.
Jim Justice (Greenbrier East) — The season didn’t end the way Spartan fans had hoped as Greenbrier East fell short of a trip to Charleston with a loss to South Charleston in a region co-final, but the start .was more than pleasing to the Spartan faithful. Greenbrier East set a new school record with a 15-0 start that included a pair of wins over Logan and an extremely rare victory over rival Woodrow Wilson at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center. East lost only one home game — packing Spartan Gymnasium for almost every contest — and finished the season with a 20-5 record.
Ron Kidd (Woodrow Wilson) — Early in 2013, it looked as though the new year was going to be an historic one for Woodrow Wilson — for all the wrong reasons. The Flying Eagles were 4-4, and a loss at Winfield was their fourth in five games. They had also dropped three in a row at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center for the first time ever. That’s when Kidd spoke to his team about the history and pride of Beckley basketball and the team adopted the motto of “refuse to lose.” For the next 19 games, that’s exactly what Woodrow did — and few of them were even close. The Flying Eagles won the Big Atlantic Classic, the Mountain State Athletic Conference championship and a sectional and regional title on their way to Charleston, where they beat Hurricane and South Charleston to advance to the Class AAA title game. A loss to Martinsburg finally brought that streak to an end, but a 23-5 finish had to be considered a success — especially after the way it began.
Joe McCoy (Valley) — The Greyhounds fell short of a trip to the Class A state tournament in Charleston after a loss to Greater Beckley, but that didn’t change a strong regular season that included a 6-0 start and a spot in the Class A top 10 for most of the season. The campaign included three wins over a strong Greenbrier West club, one in the sectional championship, and three over Meadow Bridge. A 17-8 season brought the Greyhounds plenty of respect in Class A.
The Register-Herald sports staff — Cam Huffman (sports editor), Gary Fauber (assistant sports editor), Dan Stillwell (staff writer), J. Daniel Rollins (staff writer) and Rusty Udy (sports clerk) — will vote on the winner, and the award will be announced in the April 7 Register-Herald