The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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March 4, 2013

Mustangs repeat as champs

5 champions crowned as Biddy-Buddy Tournament comes to a close

BECKLEY — Same gym. Same teams. Same result.

M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs, making their final tournament appearance, defeated the West Virginia Generals 54-51 Sunday to win the eighth-grade division of the 41st annual Wendy’s/YMCA of Southern West Virginia Biddy-Buddy All-Star Tournament at Woodrow Wilson High School.

The teams met last year in the seventh-grade title game, with the Mustangs coming out on top. They held off a fourth-quarter surge by the Generals to again leave as Biddy-Buddy champions.

“We played pretty good today. That’s a good team we played,” Mustangs coach John Adkins said. “They made a good comeback on us but we weathered the storm.”

The Mustangs led 26-18 at halftime and maintained their eight-point advantage, 37-29, going into the fourth quarter. That’s when the Generals got going.

After the Mustangs had increased their lead to 45-32 on back-to-back baskets by Chase Porter and Michael Karl, the Generals went on a 9-1 run to get it to 46-40. The spurt was highlighted by a Courtney Walton 3-pointer and a steal and layup by Tarek Payne.

A three-point play by Collin Miller stemmed the momentum, but West Virginia eventually pulled to 50-46 on 4-of-4 free-throw shooting by Isiah Francis and a basket by Walton.

Collin Miller was perfect on four shots from the line over the last 25 seconds, and Lavonte Carter’s putback for the Generals at the buzzer created the three-point final.

“We just didn’t execute very well for a couple of minutes,” Adkins said. “We left some shooters (open), they made a couple 3s. We just couldn’t make free throws and missed a couple of shots. But we did what we had to do.”

“Good game with them, once again,” Generals coach Mike Fowlkes said. “We got off to a slow start and got down by 13 early. We battled back after we got our groove.”

The Generals advanced to the title game with a thrilling last-second, 48-47 win over the Rising Stars in Saturday’s semifinal. Fowlkes said there might have been some hangover from that victory.

“These kids have been playing (the Stars) for (several) years and had never beaten them,” Fowlkes said. “To beat them (Saturday) night, I think that had something to do with (the slow start). But that’s taking nothing away from M.A.T.T.S. Mustangs. They are a great basketball team.”

Miller led the Mustangs with 18 points. Division MVP Timmy Dalton added 15. Dalton also won the MVP award a year ago.

The Generals got a game-high 27 points from Francis.

Payne and Tamon Scruggs  were named to the all-tournament team for the Generals.

The tournament was the first of the travel season for both squads, and the Mustangs were playing short-handed in the finals. Two of their players left after Saturday’s action to play in a showcase tournament in Columbus, Ohio.

“We’ve got a nice bunch,” Adkins said. “Hopefully, we’ll do some good things this year.”

The Generals, meanwhile, will be hopping from state to state this year, developing chemistry along the way.

“We go to Winston-Salem, we’ll play in Charlotte, we go to Pittsburgh, play in Cincinnati,” Fowlkes said. “Just to different places. Thanks to Tamar Slay (a former Woodrow Wilson star and state Player of the Year, as well as former NBA draft pick) and Greg Darby and Little General, Jan-Care and Mid-State Auto, and the other ones that I can’t think of. They allow these kids to go (play). I’m just coaching them.”

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