It's hard not to notice what Notre Dame sophomore point guard Timmy Swiger has done for the Irish lately.
After the loss of standout Nick Carbacio, Notre Dame was faced with filling the void left by a 33.5 ppg. scorer. Swiger, who spent the first two games getting the ball to others, assumed the role and is now Notre Dame's go-to guy.
In the three games since the loss of Carbacio, Swiger is averaging 17.3 points, including an 18-point effort in a 58-56 win at Wirt County. Through five games, Swiger leads all point guards in Harrison County with 15.2 ppg.
"Right now, Timmy is the consummate point guard," Notre Dame coach Mike Robey said. "He's done everything we've asked of him and then some.
"He's picked up the scoring pace, directs the offense and is still getting the ball to everyone. I really can't say enough good things about him now. He's only a sophomore and he's been given a ton of responsibility and has answered."
Senior Josh Maxwell is the team's second leading scorer at 10.6 ppg., and has also given Notre Dame a bigger boost offensively, Robey said.
The Irish (2-3) visit Valley Wetzel Jan. 9 and host Tygarts Valley Jan. 11.
"With Timmy now becoming more of a scorer and having Josh inside, we've got a nice two-headed scoring attack," Robey said. "Like I said, I can't say enough about how pleased I am with how he's responded."
n THINGS CHANGE: Just last season, it was one of the premier girls games in the state.
Lincoln and Tucker County were state powers and when the two met, it meant playing in front of large, raucous crowds -- a stark contrast from the sparse crowd that watched the Mountain Lions defeat the Cougars, 86-26, in Shinnston.
"We talked about that before the game," Tucker County coach David Kyle said. "For the past couple of seasons this game was full, but times change. Programs have good years and bad years."
Last year, Lincoln spent much of the season ranked No. 1, while Tucker County had established itself as a perennial power in Class AA with titles in 1991 and three consecutive from 1996 to 1998.
While the Cougars are limping along at 0-8, the Mountain Lions improved to 6-3 and headed in the direction Kyle would like to see.
"Last year we thought would be a rebuilding one," Kyle said. "We end up going to Charleston and losing to Sissonville which only lost by one in the state championship.
"We've got four starters back from that team and it's caused us to change our approach a little this season. Hopefully we can go down there this year and win a couple of games."
n THEISMANN AT COAL CLASSIC: The Coal Classic in Beckley has become known as one of the top high school basketball tournaments in the East.
The event has also become well known for its pretournament banquet speakers which have featured Dick Vitale, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Terry Bradshaw. This year, former Washington Redskins quarterback and ESPN NFL analyst Joe Theismann will speak at the dinner, Jan. 21 at the Raleigh County Armory.
n MORRISON OUT: The growing list of early season injuries reared its head again when Lewis County guard Patrick Morrison was injured in a 75-59 loss to Braxton County last weekend in the Elkins Holiday Tournament.
Morrison sprained his ankle in the third quarter and is expected to miss at least two weeks. Morrison led the Big 10 with 22 3-pointers and was averaging 15.5 points.
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org