By Josh Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Perhaps The No. 2 team in the state was overlooking its county rival and looking ahead to a rematch with Greenbrier East. It almost came back to hurt.
The Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles (19-4) defeated Shady Spring 84-77 in the Region 3, Section 2 semifinal Wednesday night at the Brushfork Armory.
Beckley came out shooting the lights out, jumping to an early 18-0 run. That’s when one of the area’s top shooters, Shady’s Chase Connor, put his team on his back and carried them into battle, fighting back to pull his team within a single point.
“I think we thought it was over when we went up 18-0,” Beckley coach Ron Kidd said. “A lot of Chase’s shots, sometimes you move your feet and you got to get your hands up. We didn’t do that. Give Chase credit, he’s a top player in the state, and it showed.”
Connor didn’t let the state’s top defense phase him, putting up 35 points and five 3-pointers.
“We got some momentum going,” Connor said. “I caught fire, and every time I’d get a little bit of space I told myself I was pulling it. I wanted to fight back for my team. I knew I had four fouls. I knew I had to be careful, and I couldn’t drive or play tough defense. I just wanted to get my team back in it.”
However, a questionable charging call with 3:14 remaining in the game gave Connor his fifth foul and sent him to the bench, effectively ending one of the most brilliant high school careers the region has seen in years.
Connor finished his career with 1,811 points.
“This sucks,” Connor said. “This is my last high school game ever. It was tough not getting to play in those final few minutes, but I know there’s not another team I’d want to be on. Couldn’t be happier.”
In the end, the Beckley defense, paired with the hot shooting of Donte Nabors, propelled the Flying Eagles to victory.
Nabors finished with a season-high 32 points.
“We could do better,” Nabors said. “They scored too many points on us. We came out in the second half and thought we had an easy game, but we had a fight.”
The victory seals a spot in the regional final for Beckley — but first it must get passed a Greenbrier East team that handed the Flying Eagles a loss early in the season.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Kidd said. “We’re really going to have to bring it. I thought they played extremely hard against Princeton. It’s gonna be a dog fight. If we don’t bring it, we could be in trouble.”
“We just gotta play Beckley basketball,” Nabors said. “We’ve got to play hard. We can’t play lazy. We’re going to play our hearts out.”
Beckley and Greenbrier East will tip-off at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at the Brushfork Armory.
— E-mail: jrollins@ register-herald.com
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Shady Spring (14-10)
Chase Connor 11 8-9 35, Jordan Meadows 4 3-3 13, Joshua Snyder 1 0-0 2, Tyler Bonds 7 0-0 14, Jacob Buckland 1 0-0 2, Steven Chhabra 2 0-2 4, Juwan Rowe 1 0-2 2, Corey Snyder 1 2-2 5. Totals 28 13-18 77.
Woodrow Wilson (19-4)
Andrew Johnson 3 8-8 16, Nick Deems 0 2-2 2, Donte Nabors 11 7-9 32, Chase Hancock 1 9-10 11, Dai Dai Fortune 1 0-0 2, Noah Hancock 2 0-0 4, Nequan Carrington 6 2-2 14, Brent Osborne 1 0-0 3. Totals 25 28-31 84
SS 19 15 24 19 77
WW 29 17 17 21 84
3-pointers — SS: 8 (Connor 5, Meadows 2, Snyder) WW: 6 (Johnson 2, Nabors 3, Osborne). Fouled out – SS: Connor, Rowe, C. Snyder.