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Derek Taylor: MSAC Night of Champions takes step forward

CHARLESTON, W.Va. - The Mountain State Athletic Conference Night of Champions saw a noticeable increase in media attention, and thanks to an anonymous patron of the South Charleston Community Center, fans were able to keep up with the events of the day via numerous means of social media.

In past years, the arena inside the SCCC has been an Internet dead zone. On Saturday, a wireless router enabled writers from four daily newspapers, numerous television stations, a handful of radio stations and a web-based sports site to keep information coming to those who couldn't be on hand to witness the games, skills competitions and award ceremonies.

Only, no one knows how the router got there. It did not belong to the SCCC, which itself does not offer wireless Internet service although it does have a computer lab on site. A previous visitor to the Community Center left the router behind, perhaps inadvertently.

To that special someone, the prep basketball fans of southern West Virginia owe a debt of gratitude.

Another positive was the availability of a hospitality room in the basement of the building. For coaches, game officials and media members who were there working for 10 hours or so on Saturday it was a welcome and unexpected benefit.

These positives aside, there are a few things that could be improved about the Night of Champions, beginning with its permanent residence in South Charleston.

The MSAC has 15 member schools located as far north as Parkersburg and as far south as Princeton, and ranging east to west from Beckley to Huntington. While The Community Center is centrally located, it is also South Charleston's home court. George Washington girls basketball Coach Jamie LaMaster noted last week that it was the first time in three consecutive trips to the MSAC title game for his team that the Patriots felt they were playing on a neutral floor, as in the two previous years they had faced SC in the title game.

There are other gyms at member schools that are more than capable of handling the event, namely Memorial Fieldhouse at Parkersburg High School and the Raleigh County Convention Center in Beckley. The Charleston Civic Center should also be considered an option, as for many players that only take part in the skills competitions, it would provide their only chance to perform in that arena in front of a large crowd.

Cost considerations might prohibit the use of the Civic Center, but it is already used for the brainchild of Logan Coach Mark Hatcher and his GW counterpart Rick Greene dubbed the Shootout at the Big House, as well as the early season Hoops Classic. The MSAC Night of Champions ranks higher on the totem pole of import than either of those events.

If it is to remain in South Charleston - and there are no indicators that it is moving any time soon - one item that needs addressed is the scoreboards' comparative lack of information.

There are two scoreboards at either end of the court in the SCCC, which both tell home and visitor scores, the time remaining and identify the quarter. There is no information for team or individual fouls made available to fans, and - rest assured - coaches and media members rely on such reference material in game as well.

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A WAKE-UP call goes out this week to Sissonville's Bekah Baldwin, Herbert Hoover's Corey Bird, South Charleston's Alli Burdette, St. Albans' Ali Haynes, Hurricane's Austin Hensley, Capital's Justin Palmer and others around the Kanawha Valley, who will soon take the attention away from their basketball-playing classmates.

High school baseball and softball teams begin preseason workouts Monday across the state. Regular season games begin March 13.

Team previews can be found in the Daily Mail beginning Monday, March 4.

Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at derek.taylor@dailymail.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT.

 


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