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Just watch where Nitro boys team goes
Rich Stevens, Daily Mail
December 12, 2007

bball Tex Williams
Tex Williams

TEX Williams is just a throwback. The buttoned-up shirt, hiked-up slacks and a smile and twang that has "Tex" written all over it. All that's missing is a cowboy hat.

But, when it comes to basketball style, Williams fits in the 21st century just fine. That's why Nitro High will shine this season. Tex says he has no plans to bottle up Brett McClanahan. I call it giving the kid freedom, although the 6-foot-4 star doesn't see it that way. He likes to talk about the north-south style employed by Williams, who has coached at every level, including stops at the University of Charleston and St. Albans High. It's certainly different than that of former Coach Dean Lee, who took over for the resigned Gary Greene midway through the 2005 season. In two full seasons, Lee brought something Nitro boys basketball had seen only seven times in the program's 66-year history -- back-to-back winning campaigns.

Greene and Tom Sutherland were the most recent coaches to achieve that with three straight (1999-2001). Lee did it with a deliberate style of play. He decided to hang it up to watch his daughter, Brittany, play her senior year at Winfield High. Who can blame him? Williams hung it up three years ago only to get back on the floor this season. He has McClanahan, so who can blame him? The 67-year-old coach still has some old-school rules to which his players must adhere. If you don't play defense, you sit. His modern-day philosophies will also fit well with this team. If you don't use your instincts, you sit. Williams never confined former SA star Brett Nelson, who wound up being one of the top high school players in the country before heading off to the University of Florida. He's now an assistant coach at Marshall.

He won't tell this Brett to slow down either. Or, sophomore guard Edward Gordon, the son of former Wheeling Park High and University of Charleston great Tony "Jiggoes" Gordon. Or, much-improved Ryan Fiddler. Or, shooter Chase Pickering. Or, his muscle, Andrew Pickering.

Both Pickerings started on Nitro's State Tournament baseball team last June and McClanahan took up football this season, so they understand success. It's way too early to anoint this team a State Tournament qualifier, especially considering the region includes George Washington, South Charleston and St. Albans.

Besides, the Wildcats haven't been there since 1999, coached by Greene. But, it's also not wise to consider the Wildcats also-rans in a region that includes four state runners-up since 2000.

They are loaded with athletes with foot speed, quickness and intuitiveness ... and a coach who will let them show it off.

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