POCA, W.Va. -- There's no "I" in team, prep athletes play for the name on the front of the jersey rather than the one on the back and offense sells tickets while defense wins championships.
There might not be a boys basketball team around in the 2013-14 season that makes sports clichés more lively than Class AA No. 2 Poca (16-1).
Perhaps no better evidence of the Dots' willingness and ability to play unselfish basketball can be found than in the list of Kanawha Valley scoring leaders. There, right about the middle of the pack are three Poca underclassmen. Junior Noah Frampton leads the team with a scoring average of 14.7 points per game. Right behind him in freshman Elijah Cuffee at 14.5 ppg, and behind Cuffee is junior Matt Chandler at 14.3 ppg.
"We average 18 assists a game," Poca coach Allen Osborne said after the Dots dismantled No. 8 Chapmanville 68-35 on Feb. 11.
True to form, Poca had 19 assists in that win, the team's 12th in which it held its opponent to fewer than 50 points. The Dots, who are outscoring opponents by a whopping 30.7 points per game, added another low-scoring win to their resume on Valentine's Day, downing Sissonville 78-43.
Against Chapmanville, Poca held Tigers junior guard Josh Butcher to five points. He entered the game leading the Cardinal Conference in scoring.
"We just tried to play defense real hard. They're a great team and Butcher's a great shooter," said Frampton, who had six steals in the win. "We just play hard defense and good team defense."
A significant part of that effort on defense is, in reality, begun on the opposite end of the floor. There, Poca is working on its mastery of a half-court game that uses a high dose of backdoor cuts and includes an emphasis on making the extra pass to ensure open looks at the bucket.
Frampton, whose younger brother Luke Frampton averages 11.1 points, said the team's effectiveness in the half-court game is aided by familiarity.
"We've played with each other for a long time, since we were in midget league," Noah Frampton said. "Everybody on our team can shoot, it's not just one person. We share the ball, and everybody can knock down shots."
The more patient Poca is with the basketball and the more efficient the Dots are in knocking down shots as Frampton said, the fewer opportunities have to match them and the faster those opponents find themselves in a deficit.
Poca, which clinched the Cardinal Conference championship by beating Sissonville, will face a test of a different sort on Wednesday, when Mingo Central visits. Miners 6-foot-7 senior Dikembe Dixon, a mid-season transfer who averages more than 18 points per game in five games with the team, has fueled a late-season surge through conference play by his team.
The Miners are 9-7 overall, and 4-1 since Dixon was cleared to play by the Secondary School Activities Commission.