By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
How good is Greater Beckley Christian?
To anyone who has seen the Crusaders play this season, the answer is evident — really good.
The No. 9-ranked Greater Beckley Crusaders crushed the Montcalm Generals 95-40 on Thursday night. It was the Crusaders’ seventh win of the season and a victory that they hope will help them get noticed.
“I would like to think we’re a pretty good team,” GBC coach Dan Burd said. “I see some flaws others may not see. I think we have a chance to be a pretty good basketball team.”
Whatever flaws Burd saw in his team were hidden by its dominating performance.
The Generals jumped out to a 7-4 lead early in the first quarter, but it was very short-lived as the Crusaders’ Elisha Kidd scored 15 of his 18 points in the first half and helped Greater Beckley go into the half with a 46-26 lead.
“I thought I played good,” Kidd said. “The team played well.”
Burd preaches to his team that the most important part of a basketball game is the first three minutes in the third quarter. That’s a message Greater Beckley took to heart. The home team went on a 20-0 run before Montcalm scored another bucket. They then went on another 10-0 run to end the third quarter with a 76-28 lead.
“I give all those guys the credit; they’re the ones who got out there and got the job done,” Burd said. “Obviously, they withstood the challenge.
“I know the score doesn’t reflect this, but Montcalm was pretty fundamentally sound. I just felt they were outmatched tonight.”
The Generals were led in scoring by Andre Agee, who had 11 points.
Greater Beckley is known for its three-headed monster guard play of Kidd, Javonne Staunton-Bailey and Keith Mullins, but overlooked is the superb play of big men Brent Daniels and Anthony Helton. The duo combined for 11 rebounds and 11 points.
“Our guards played good,” Daniels said. “Our guards can go with any guards in the state, but Anthony and I are working harder every day to get better and match them.”
“It was really a team win. We work hard in practice to get better, but give this win to the team. It’s a team effort,” Helton said.
Greater Beckley’s starting five were helped in the effort by the play of Paul David Payne, who came off the bench with 16 points, 12 of which came from beyond the 3-point arc.
“Paul added a big contribution to our team,” Daniels said. “His 16 points really boosted our team.”
The contribution of Staunton-Bailey and Mullins continued to propel the Crusaders. Staunton-Bailey had 18 points, eight assists and five steals. Mullins added 20 points of his own and complimented them with eight rebounds and six steals.
“It wasn’t my best performance,” Staunton-Bailey said. “I had a bunch of looks that I missed and a bunch of turnovers, but we turned it up in the second half and got in the groove.”
“I thought I played pretty well, but we did a great job as a team,” Mullins added. “We scored 95 points, but there is always room for improvement.”
Greater Beckley’s piling up the victories and turning heads, but coach Burd paused when asked if his team was underrated.
“I think... we’re overlooked,” Burd said. “I wouldn’t say we’re disrecpted, but we’re overlooked and that’s not a bad place to be.”
Mullins echoed those sentiments.
“I’d say at the beginning of the season we were overlooked,” Mullins added. “I think people are catching on with how we’re playing and seeing we’re a good team that’s going to be hanging around come state tournament time.”
In order for the Crusader’s to get to the tournament, they’ll have to withstand a tough region that includes fellow top 10 schools in No. 8 Valley, No. 10 Greenbrier West and No. 2 Tug Valley — the only team to defeat Greater Beckley this season.
“I like our chances in the region,” Burd said. “There are some good teams in it. Tug Valley, obviously. They come to our house on Feb. 9, and that’s a must win for us. We invite all of Beckley to come out for that game.”
One member of the Crusaders is no stranger to championships. Staunton-Bailey transfered to Greater Beckley from Oak Hill last December and was a member of the Red Devils’ 2011 state championship team.
“I think we’re on the same level as that Oak Hill team,” Stauton-Bailey said. “We work hard every single day at practice, never taking it slow, never taking a day off. Every day we continue to improve. Come to a game. Come and look. I think we’re right where we want to be.”
Fans wanting to get a look at the Crusaders in Beckley will have their chance when they welcome River View into the cozy confines of the Greater Beckley Gymnasium on Monday night, but first they will make a trip to Man tonight with a 7:30 p.m. tip.
Montcalm fell to 2-9 on the season and will travel to Meadow Bridge tonight for a 5:30 p.m. tip.
— E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org and follow on Twitter at @JDanielRollins.
Greater Beckley 95, Montcalm 40
Michael Blackwell 1 0-0 3, Darius Brodesser 2 2-2 7, Tyler Goins 1 0-0 3, Robert Pennington 1 3-6 5, Joshua Hamblin 2 0-0 4, Jacob Howard 2 0-0 4, Trent Jenkins 1 0-0 3, Andre Agee 5 1-2 11. Totals: 15 6-10 40.
Greater Beckley (7-1)
Javonne Staunton-Bailey 9 0-2 18, Elisha Kidd 5 4-4 15, Jimmy Moreland 1 1-2 3, Douglas Ernest 0 0-0 0, Adam Cook 3 0-2 7, Paul David Payne 6 0-0 16, Brent Daniels 2 2-2 7, Keith Mullins 8 2-2 20, Anthon Helton 1 2-4 4, Jon Paul Kessinger 1 0-0 2, Ethan Lehman 1 1-2 3, Zeke Smith 0 0-0 0. Totals: 37 12-20 95.
V 13 13 2 12 — 40
H 24 22 30 19 — 95
3-point goals — M: 4 (Brodesser, Goins, Blackwell, Jenkins) ; GB: 9 (Payne 4, Mullins 2, Kidd, Cook, Daniels). Fouled out — None.