By Bob Redd
For The Register-Herald
Earlier this season Bluefield head coach Buster Large said the goal of the Bluefield Beavers basketball team was a return to the state tournament, a return to the championship game, and a victory in the final contest.
The Bluefield Beavers took another step to playing in Charleston March 14-16 by defeating the PikeView Panthers 92-50 to claim the W.Va. Class AA Region 3, Section 2 championship Friday night at Princeton High School.
With the win, Bluefield advances to regional play next week, hosting the Wyoming East Warriors at the Brushfork Armory. PikeView will move on to face Section 1 champion Westside on the Renegades’ home court. Both games will take place Wednesday at 7 p.m.
“I felt like this was one of the most complete games that we have played all year,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large. “No. 1, and most importantly, it was a total team effort. No. 2, our passing was razor-sharp as far as I am concerned. We’ve been working on it in practice and it was executed real nice tonight.”
PikeView scored the game’s first points on an Austin Cordell three. Bluefield then took over and scored16 unanswered that included threes by Anthony Eades, Lykel Collier and Jordan Ponder, and baskets by Michael Yost and D.J. Edwards. Bluefield’s press forced PikeView into turnovers, and while the Panthers sat in a 1-3-1 zone defense, the Beavers were successful hitting shots from the perimeter and working the ball down low to Edwards.
Eades long two at the buzzer gave the Beavers a 26-7 lead after the first eight minutes of action.
The Panthers made a charge in the second period, cutting the Bluefield lead down to 13 on buckets by Bradley Flinchum, Jonathan Burrell and a three and a deuce by Jason Weitzel. However, midway through the period Matthew Woodrum came off the Bluefield bench and sparked the Beavers with three baskets down low and a free throw. Eades again would hit a shot at the buzzer for Bluefield who took a 45-20 lead into the intermission.
The first two minutes of the third quarter Bluefield came out a little slow, but things started popping quickly for the Beavers. Eades drilled three treys, Jordan Ponder added a pair of shots from behind the arc and Edwards and Yost scored from the field and charity stripe. When it was all done Bluefield had scored 35 points in the period to take a 80-33 lead into the final quarter. The 80th point came at the buzzer on a shot by Ponder just steps inside the half court line.
Reserves finished out the game for both teams and Bluefield claimed its second consecutive sectional championship.
PikeView head coach Lindsey Jones praised his squad.
“Our kids never quit,” Jones said. “They kept working hard and that’s what we challenged them with at halftime. We did a little better job in the second half trying to run some of the stuff we wanted to do, which is some of the stuff we need to do against Westside. Tonight helped prepare us a little bit.”
Eades, in just under three quarters of play, led all scorers with 26 points and had four threes. Edwards tallied 15 with eight rebounds, Yost and Ponder scored 12 apiece and Matthew Woodrum came off the bench to drop in 11. Collier had a career-high 12 assists and Ponder dished out five assists. Corey Coppola, returning after missing Bluefield’s last three games with an ankle injury, snagged a game-high nine rebounds.
Logan McKinney led PikeView with 10 points.
PikeView will travel to Westside, Wednesday, with the winner landing a spot in the state tournament. With only one senior on the team, Jones is not only looking at the present, but the future as his team will prepare for the regional game.
“It’s great for us, that is what we were all excited about, the fact we get to practice for another week,” Jones said. “We get better every practice. Even though the outcome of the game was like this, we’ve gotten better in the last couple of days. We’re just going to keep improving.”
The game between PikeView and Westside will be the first meeting this season between the teams.
Bluefield will prepare for its third game against Wyoming East. The Beavers won on the Warriors home court 75-56 on Jan. 11, and Bluefield was victorious Feb. 19, 62-60 at the Brushfork Armory. Everyone expects the third game to be a tough one.
“It’s going to be another physical game,” Eades said. “We’re going to have to play our ‘A’ game. We’ve got Corey (Coppola) back and hopefully things turn out good for us.”
Collier added, “We’re going to have to play defense. We’re going to have to defend real well and rebound. We have to go out there on the floor like we did these last two games. If we are able to do that, we should be okay. If not, then it’s going to be a long game.”
Large summed it up.
“I don’t have to say a word about this game. Everybody knows what’s on the line, our kids do, their kids do and I’m sure it’s going to be standing room only at the Brushfork Armory,” Large concluded.
Austin Hazelwood 0 0-0 0, Seth Wood 2 0-0 4, Bradley Flinchum 4 0-0 8, Justin Dickinson 2 0-0 5, Austin Cordell 3 0-1 7, Jonathan Burrell 3 1-4 7, Jason Weitzel 3 1-1 8, Tyler Robinson 0 0-0 0, Tanner Farley 0 1-3 1, Logan McKinney 5 0-0 10, 22 3-9 50.
Dakota Smalls 0 0-0 0, Brandon Lilly 0 0-0 0, D.J. Edwards 6 3-6 15, Anthony Eades 11 0-0 26, Lykel Collier 2 0-0 6, Trevor Mullins 0 0-0 0, Michael Yost 4 4-5 12, Jordan Ponder 4 0-0 11, David Woodrum 1 0-0 2, Corey Coppola 3 0-0 6, Matthew Woodrum 5 2-5 12, Jordan Masterson 1 0-2 2, Raheem Reed 0 0-0 0, Totals 37 9-18 92.
PV 7 13 13 17 — 50
B 26 19 35 12 — 92
3-point goals: PV: 3 (Cordell, Weitzel, Dickinson); B: 9 (Eades 4, Collier 2, Ponder 3). Fouled out: PV- Cordell.