NEW RICHMOND —
Rumors began circulating on message boards and Twitter early Tuesday morning that West Virginia University head coach Bob Huggins would be on a scouting assignment for the Wyoming East-Shady Spring game.
Those rumors? False.
Who did show up, though? A Wyoming East basketball team seemingly absent during last week’s Big Atlantic Classic.
The Class AA No. 7 Warriors defeated Shady 74-69.
“We’re just trying to get things turned around,” Wyoming East coach Rory Chapman said. “Last week was not our best week.”
The Warriors were defeated in back-to-back games of the Big Atlantic Classic by Robert C. Byrd and county rival Westside. It was the first time Chapman’s team had lost to the Renegades since 2007.
“We’ve got to get back to work and doing the things that got us doing well in ball games,” Chapman said.
One of those things?
Playing tough defense.
Playing tough defense against one of the top players in the state, to be exact.
Wyoming East welcomed the sharpshooting senior guard from Shady Spring, Chase Connor, into its gym and held him to 30 points in the effort.
“A kid like Chase, you have to be ready for. If you’re looking for him, it’s too late,” Chapman said.
Early in the game, it looked like the offensive prowess of Connor was going to eat Wyoming East’s defense alive.
Connor hit four big 3-pointers in the second quarter to break open a 40-29 lead for the Tigers, leading Chapman to call a timeout and make some adjustments.
“We jumped into the 1-3-1 zone. It came in handy,” Chapman said.
Chapman put 6-foot-4 freshman Cody Lester at the top of the zone, making it nearly impossible for the smaller guards to pass the ball over the middle to Connor.
“We tried to stay away from the other guard, so that he couldn’t get Chase Connor the ball. We knew Connor was the one who could hit the outside shot,” Lester said.
Turnovers and transition points.
Late in the second quarter, Lester and the duo of Brett Bowling and Austin Canada went on an offensive tear and a 10-0 run to go into the half trailing by only a point, 40-39.
The strong defense held the Tiger offense to only 14 points in the third quarter, which included a last-second desperation shot from Connor at the buzzer.
“That was the key to us getting the victory,” Chapman said.
“Connor is probably one of the best players in the state. When he gets hot you better watch out,” Canada said.
Another key to the victory was the offensive play of Canada, who matched his scoring total for East’s last game against Shady with 29 points.
“I’ve been working hard in practice, learning to come off picks and off the dribble and shooting. I’m just getting better every day,” Canada said.
“I thought he made the shots when we needed him to make the shots,” Chapman said. “We ran some plays for him and called his shots. Ran a screen for him and he got the basket on the corner. He hit a big 3-pointer. He also gave it up to his teammates and got the assists on the last 2 or 3 buckets for us.”
Four of Wyoming East’s five starters finished with double-digit points. Lester had 15, while Bowling and Josh Tunstalle each added 14.
“We got away from sharing the ball as much last week. We got back to work,” Chapman said. “As far as I’m concerned we’re 2-0 this week with the biggest game of the season coming up.”
Wyoming East will play rival Westside Friday night at 7:30 p.m. in the rubber match of their season series. Wyoming East won the first game in Clear Fork in January, while Westside won on the neutral court in the Big Atlantic Classic. Friday’s game will most likely decide the No. 1 seed in the sectional round of the playoffs.
“I think this Friday is big because of sectional seeding,” Chapman said. “We’ve split so far. We’ve got them coming to our place and if we win we can make a stake at why we should be the No. 1 seed, and if they win they can as well.”
Shady Spring will try to put the loss behind it on Friday night when it welcomes PikeView.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter @JDanielRollins
Shady Spring (8-7)
Chase Connor 11 1-3 30, Steven Chhabra 4 0-1 9, Jordan Meadows 4 0-0 11, Tyler Bonds 0-0 0, Corey Snyder 0 0-0 0, Nate Williams 0 0-0 0, Jared Buckland 6 1-1 13, Juwan Rowe 3 0-0 6 Totals: 28 2-5 69.
Wyoming East (12-4)
Jacob Dulcie 0 0-0 0, Austin Canada 11 4-4 29, Kyle Sandy 0 0-0 0, Cody Lester 5 5-6 15, Josh Tunstalle 6 2-5 14, Joseph Cornette 0 0-0 0, John Morgan 0 0-0 0, Christian Hedinger 1 0-1 2, Jordan Hayes 0 0-0 0, Bret Bowling 6 2-4 14. Totals: 29 13-20 74.
SS 17 23 14 15 — 69
WE 19 20 19 16 — 74
3-point goals — SS: 11 (Connor 7, Meadows 3, Chhabra); WE: 3 (Canada 3). Fouled out — None.