Summers County head coach Chad Meador has experienced the highs and lows of coaching.
As an assistant he was a part of a legendary, record-setting run that saw the Lady Bobcats win over 100 consecutive games and five straight state championships.
As the man in the first seat on the bench, he guided his team to three consecutive state tournaments in his first three years, advancing to the semifinals in his first season.
But last year was the low point.
His Lady Bobcats lost their final two games of the season and finished below .500 for the first time in program history, graduating a pair of all-staters afterwards.
That failure has made the success his team has achieved this year that much sweeter.
“I don’t know if it’s because I feel like I’m coming up on the end of my coaching career or because I’m with my daughter or because we lost last year, but this one just hit’s different,” Meador said. “I’ve been there for some special runs but this one means a whole lot to me. There’s a lot of elements there that hit home a little bit.”
After a win at Mingo Central in one of the Region 3 co-finals, Meador’s Bobcats earned their second state tournament berth in the last three years and the fourth of his five-year tenure. This team doesn’t have the dynamic scorers those over the past decade have had, but is full of unselfish players that have bought into their roles.
It’s allowed post players Gracie Harvey and Maggie Stover to thrive as the team’s leading scorers.
Now the challenge for Meador comes in guiding his squad to a state tournament win which is no easy task. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 state tournament games that were to feature Summers County were canceled. As a result the tenured coach has only one player that has played on the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center floor – senior Maggie Stover.
But the team Summers is facing – St. Marys – is in the same situation. The Lady Blue Devils earned a state tournament berth in 2019 but never got to play their game.
“A pretty unique story in all of this is when Covid hit and we’re going to the Holiday Inn, we’re pulling in and the team’s looking at me like what’s next?” Meador said. “I told them ‘unfortunately girls the game has been canceled and not only the game but the state tournament,’ and St. Marys was sharing a hotel with us. They were led by coach Howard Meeks so Howie and I were siting there wondering what was next. How fitting though that the two teams that were staying together are playing each other, but you’re right. Maggie is the only one that’s stepped foot on that playing surface.
“It can be a little overwhelming if you’ve never played there. It can be overwhelming due to the environment. My daughter and some of the others, the only time they’ve been there is to watch the game from the cheering section. I’m hoping after about the first two or three minutes the nerves will kind of settle down a little bit and we can find our rhythm and play. But it is a factor.”
The first few minutes will likely be the most crucial for Summers, as Meador explains.
The Lady Blue Devils like to play at a slower pace and keep the scoring down and pose some matchup problems in how they can stretch the floor and pull Summers’ bigs away from the basket an into space in the high post and the perimeter.
“We’re getting more familiar with them as the week goes on,” Meador said. “First and foremost you don’t win 19 games unless you’re pretty darn good. They have produced some pretty quality wins. They beat Cameron and they’re at the tournament. They knocked off Webster and beat Williamstown three times. I don’t know if I want to say Williamstown is down a smidget but any time you beat Fred Sauro three times you’ve got a pretty good squad. I think as far as personnel goes they have two good guards. They have really dynamic point guard (Addie Davis). She leads the team and can get up and down the floor. She’s a great passer.
“Then they have another Davis (Zoe) and she causes problems. When she plays outside, we’re a little concerned because we need to figure out who to put on her. On film they’ll spread the floor and put her in the high post so she poses a little bit of concern to us because of her ability to be pretty versatile on the inside and outside. They are a ball-control offense and don’t look to press much or get out and run, but they’re very controlled and methodical. I think we’re two teams that are pretty evenly matched with two different styles. I think it’ll be the game off the day.”
While experience on the floor maybe be scarce, Meador himself is no stranger to the Coliseum and how to prepare teams for the environment. He’s been the head coach of two teams that have played on the floor – the 2020 team earned a berth but never played there – and has won numerous games and championships there as an assistant.
“In think it gives me an advantage, not that I’m the greatest coach in the world,” Meador said. “You kind of know some of the subtleties of the tournament. For example MetroNews – the first dead ball after the four minute mark of every quarter is a media timeout. So in essence you get four extra timeouts and you can use that to your advantage. They tell you in the Parkersburg meeting that if you call timeout before the media timeout to make sure you call a 30 because it’s going to be adjusted to a full. There’s those little things that after a few years you tell yourself to wait and call a timeout later.
“Just the arrival – when to get there, knowing to watch the team before get there a little early and that mental prep for your players. I think so many times teams get there for the first time in forever and they’re overwhelmed by the logistics of the tournament or the community support. Knowing those things gives you and edge in the heat of the moment.”
Summers County, the No. 6 seed, will open state tournament play on Wednesday when it battles No. 3 St. Marys at 11:15 a.m. at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @tjack94