By J. Daniel Rollins
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Don’t look now, but Woodrow Wilson is hot.
After starting the season 4-4 and going on a historic home losing streak, Beckley has improved its record to 13-4 and has won its last eight games, including a 63-31 beatdown of the No. 3 team in the state, Morgantown, on Saturday night to clinch one of the Big Atlantic Classic Class AAA championships.
Even more impressive?
The win marked the fourth victory of the week.
“Did we look all right for four games?” Woodrow coach Ron Kidd said with a chuckle.
Better than all right, coach.
Woodrow Wilson may be the hottest team in the state right now.
“We’re playing that hard-nosed defense, playing that Beckley style and making our offense go,” Kidd said.
The No. 10 Flying Eagles combined for 18 defensive rebounds and 20 steals in Saturday night’s game. The hot-shooting Donte Nabors had nine steals to go along with his game-high 25 points.
“That’s a quiet 25,” Kidd said. “He’s stepping it up and being the player we knew he could be.”
Nabors is using the success of his father, Beckley fall of famer and assistant coach Gene, as motivation. Gene went on to play Division I basketball at LSU and Robert Morris.
“A lot of people say he’s better than me. I take that and get in the gym and try to do better than he was in high school. It’s a lot pressure,” Donte said.
Another part of the Flying Eagles’ success has come from their impressive bench, specifically Brent Osborne and Dai Dai Fortune. Osborne had seven points and two steals, while Fortune had nine points in the victory.
“Brent’s a heady guy,” Kidd said. “He knows what every position out there needs to do, whether it’s running the point or playing inside. He’s a smart, heady player.
“Dai Dai keeps improving with every game. It’s excellent seeing him back on the court. I saw him when it happened (Fortune’s car accident) and I look at him and it’s a blessing and a miracle to have him out there.
“Our kids get him the ball; they know when he’s feeling it. He’s not forcing his shot.”
One player getting him the ball is senior guard Andrew Johnson. The quarterback of the team dished out 11 assists in a game that Johnson wasn’t sure he would be playing in. In the opening minutes of the game, Johnson went down hard and had to be helped off the court.
“A player (from Morgantown) hit me with his butt bone in my thigh, but I just had to play through it,” Johnson said.
Johnson and Nabors are combining to give the Flying Eagles one of the more dangerous duos in the state.
“I like passing the ball more than I like shooting,” Johnson said.
“He’s just trying to help us win,” Nabors said of Johnson. “I’m trying to help him, he’s trying to help us, and we’re trying to help each other get to the states.”
The Nabors family is familiar with the state championship. In the 1987-1988 year, Donte’s uncle Andre helped his Flying Eagles team come back from a 4-4 early season start to make it to the semifinals of the state tournament.
Donte’s hoping his story ends a little bit differently.
“We want to win it,” he said. “We got to refuse to lose; we’re trying to make a statement, one game at a time.”
“We’ve got to keep getting better each and every game. I’m happy we won but we gotta keep getting better,” Kidd said.
The Flying Eagles (13-4) will welcome Ripley on to Dave Barksdale Court on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m.
Mark Johnson 1 0-0 3, Nicholas Colasante 0 0-0 0, Daniel Eby 2 0-0 4, Shaun Carden 0 1-2 1, Todd Turner 1 0-0 3, Thomas Selby 4 2-4 10, Adam Shaw 0 0-0 0, Scottie Core 0 0-0 0, Stephen Solomn 2 2-3 6, Stone Wolfey 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 12 5-9 31
Woodrow Wilson (12-4)
Corey Acord 0 0-0 0, Nick Deems 1 0-0 2, Donte Nabors 10 3-4 25, Chase Hancock 4 0-0 9, Nequan Carrington 1 2-2 4, Andrew Johnson 1 0-0 3, Dai Dai Fortune 2 4-4 9, Noah Hancock 2 0-2 4, Brent Osborne 2 1-2 7, Devan Bentley 0 0-0 0. TOTALS 23 10-14 63
M 7 11 9 4 — 31
WW 14 11 19 19 — 63
3-point goals: M: 2 (Johnson, Turner), WW: 7 (Nabors 2, Osborne 2, Hancock, Johnson, Fortune). Fouled Out — none.