CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Mingo Central advanced into the school’s first boys basketball state tournament semifinal with a 75-52 quarterfinal win over No. 4 Philip Barbour Thursday night.
“It means as much to me as it does them,” said Mingo Central coach Kevin Hatfield. “It means a lot to the community and a lot to the school. The football program has built itself up and won a state championship. Seven of our top nine played on last year’s two-win (basketball) team.”
The No. 5 Miners (20-6) poured on the points early, jumping out to a 14-2 lead and 23-6 advantage after the first quarter. Mingo Central made seven straight shot attempts to end the first half, going on a 15-2 run to bring the second quarter to a close.
“That was probably the best overall first half that we’ve played,” Hatfield said. “These guys really came out and played well. We’ve played really good basketball the last two games.”
It was a 48-20 lead for Mingo Central at the break as the Miners shot 66 percent in that opening half.
“We’ve had a few (good shooting halves) this year, but not on this stage to shoot that well,” Hatfield said. “Everybody really shot the ball well and did their job.”
Freshman Drew Hatfield led the Miners with 23 points, including five 3s, four assists and five steals.
“I was a bit nervous when I first came out there, but I got up a lot of shots in warm-ups and these guys were keeping my confidence up,” Hatfield said. “Once I hit the first one, I felt like it was going to be a good night.”
Also for the Miners, Keshean Rhodes scored 15 points, Canaan Fletcher 12 points and Jeremy Dillon added 11 points.
Dillon, a Marshall commit who averages 21 points per game, dished out nine assists on the night.
“I just knew these guys were going to step up,” Dillon said. “Coach told us before the game what (Philip Barbour’s) coach said about focusing on me. I left it up to (my teammates), trusted them and they stepped up.”
Philip Barbour (22-4) was led by Austin Upton’s 16 points in the loss. David Shriver, who came in shooting over 50 percent from 3, was held to just six points and 0 for 5 from beyond the arc, guarded by Dillon.
It’s the second state tournament appearance for the young Mingo Central school. The Miners will face No. 1 Fairmont Senior Friday night at 7:15 p.m. for a spot in Saturday’s championship game.
It was Mingo Central who defeated Fairmont Senior back in December for the Class AA football title.
“I’m sure it will be hyped,” Dillon said.