By Steve Keenan
For The Register-Herald
Greater Beckley Christian stood its ground down the stretch to earn the Crusaders’ second boys state basketball tournament appearance in school history.
Class A No. 6 Greater Beckley (19-5) trimmed No. 10 Valley 68-58 in a Region 3 boys basketball co-final Friday, and each coach afterwards credited the difference to accomplishing — or, in one team’s case, not accomplishing — one particular chore.
“I think we kept our composure,” said Crusader coach Dan Burd, whose team trailed 54-53 with about 6:00 to play but outperformed the Greyhounds when it mattered most. “We had a couple of games this year (when they didn’t).
“We were preaching to the kids, ‘Don’t panic.’ ”
“We panicked a little bit toward the end,” admitted Valley coach Joe McCoy. “We missed some high-percentage shots and turned the ball over.
“Give Staunton (GBC point guard Javonne Staunton-Bailey) and them credit. We knew they were going to penetrate.”
And Staunton-Bailey, who as a freshman was a key cog in Oak Hill’s Class AA state championship two years ago, knew his team had what it took to become a small-schools state tournament qualifier.
“(When he got to Greater Beckley) I told the team that we were going to the state tournament,” said Staunton-Bailey, who constantly attacked the basket to score eight points in the first quarter and 10 more in the second as the Crusaders built up a 31-24 lead before settling for a 34-33 margin at halftime. “To this school, this means everything.
“The team worked so hard.
“We knew the crowd was going to be wild,” he added. “This is what you live for.”
Staunton-Bailey tallied 22 points — including 18 in his dominating first-half performance — to power the Greater Beckley attack. Elisha Kidd chipped in 13, Brent Daniels 11 and Keith Mullins 10.
Mullins, the team’s lone senior, was simply excited to see his team punch its Charleston ticket.
“I just think it’s great for our team,” he said. “We played with a lot of intensity, we moved the ball on offense and we played good, solid defense.
“It (the pending state trip) is an honor. We have to keep playing hard like we did tonight.”
When Valley had finally slowed the slashing penetration of Staunton-Bailey and Kidd somewhat, Mullins, Daniels and reserve Adam Cook gave Greater Beckley some key outside shooting to help keep the ’Hounds at bay in the second half.
After Druw Bowen’s bucket handed Valley a 54-53 lead with 5:54 to play, Staunton-Bailey hit a free throw after being fouled on a drive. Then, Cook (from the left wing off a Staunton-Bailey assist) and Mullins (a pull-up shot from the right wing) each buried 3-point goals sandwiched around an Arik McGinnis deuce for Valley, leaving the Crusaders up 60-56 with 4:28 remaining.
After colliding with Valley’s Zac Warden, Kidd went to the charity stripe and made a pair of free throws to push the lead to six, 62-56, and Mullins, Staunton-Bailey and Daniels later added single free throws to leave the score at 65-56 with 1:32 to play.
GBC struggled at the foul line on the night, going 16-of-31, but the Crusaders did enough at the stripe in the closing minutes to keep Valley from getting any closer.
“We kind of stopped their penetration, but Daniels hit a couple of shots and the kid (Cook) came off the bench and hit a couple,” said McCoy. “And we got out of our offense.
“We’d like to be on the other end, but we had our chances.”
Burd said, as expected, his team’s guard play was huge, but he also praised the play of Daniels and Anthony Helton on the interior. “Give our bigs credit for their rebounding,” he said.
“(The successful season and tournament berth) brings the Greater Beckley community together,” Burd continued. “Our fans have been awesome and have started to return back to us.
“This just brings us closer together.”
Warden scored 14 to lead the Greyhounds, who finished 17-8. Arik McGinnis added 13 and Raeshawn Breckenridge 12.
Greater Beckley Christian (19-5)
Keith Mullins 3 3-6 10, Javonne Staunton-Bailey 9 3-8 22, Elisha Kidd 5 3-5 13, Brent Daniels 4 3-6 11, Anthony Helton 1 2-2 4, Adam Cook 2 1-2 7, Paul David Payne 0 1-2 1. Totals: 24 16-31 68.
Raeshawn Breckenridge 6 0-4 12, Zac Warden 6 2-3 14, Arik McGinnis 6 0-0 13, Henry Barron 2 0-0 5, Druw Bowen 3 0-0 6, Cody Winter 1 0-0 3, Keyshawn Payne 1 0-0 3, Dante Wilkerson 1 0-0 2. Totals: 25 2-7 58.
GBC 15 19 17 17 — 68
V 12 21 15 10 — 58
3-point goals — GBC: 4 (Mullins, Staunton-Bailey, Cook 2; V: 4 (McGinnis, Winter, Barron, Payne). Fouled out - none