By Tom Bone
For The Register-Herald
As they say aboard ship, full speed ahead.
The Bluefield Beavers forced James Monroe into 23 turnovers and shot 54.7 percent (29 for 53) from the field, cruising past the Mavericks 79-47 on Tuesday night in the Class AA Region 3, Section 2 semifinals.
“I really liked our energy,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large. “I thought we moved well. We picked up a step tonight. ... It’s the first step to get back to (the state tournament in) Charleston.”
Michael Yost scored nine of his game-high 19 points and Lykel Collier pulled off four of his five steals in the first quarter, in which Bluefield shot 7-for-9 from the floor and took a 21-5 lead, which grew to 44-13 at the half.
D.J. Edwards finished with 12 points and 10 rebounds and Jordan Ponder responded to his starting role with 12 points, six boards and two assists. Collier scored nine points, grabbed four rebounds and dished out five assists in three quarters of action.
Large said, “We really were emphasizing a fast start, and defense, and pushing the ball. This was a great, great team effort and chemistry on the floor tonight.”
Edwards said, “We executed everything the coaches said.”
James Monroe head coach Jonathan McPherson said, “We didn’t play like the team that we have been playing like the last five, six games or so.”
“I really felt like we shot the ball well coming in, and it was just like there was a covering over the rim, the first and most of the second quarter. I could tell we got frustrated (and) it affected the defensive end, because our confidence went down when our shots weren’t falling.”
“What Bluefield has is speed, and they exhibited that speed well tonight,” he said. “It just seemed like we could never get in a rhythm, with them playing that style of basketball.”
Mavericks senior Chord Settle scored 10 points on four straight possessions in the last three minutes of the game, ending his playing career with 15 points. Center Josh Ganoe had 10 points and 10 rebounds. Garrett Mann had eight points and eight boards.
In their last meeting on Feb. 15, Bluefield took an 86-61 win. McPherson criticized the officiating in that game and contended his team could play on a level with Bluefield. Edwards, for one, took notice.
He said, “We read what their coach said a few weeks ago when we played them. That was in the backs of our minds. We just wanted to show them that we are the team that we are — the number one team in the state.”
Bluefield will play either PikeView or Mount View in the sectional championship at 7 p.m. Friday in Princeton.
McPherson said the Mavericks “definitely improved throughout the season. Hopefully, we can show that how hard you work, it will show on the court, because we’ve had plenty of players that have put the work in, in the offseason, and they’ve been the ones to shine on the floor.”
Another of his nine seniors, Micah Deskins, said about his high school career, “It’s been great. I love playing with these guys. We showed a lot of teamwork. We never gave up.”
— E-mail: tbone@
James Monroe (6-15)
Micah Deskins 0 1-2 1, Caleb Brown 0 2-2 2, Chord Settle 6 0-1 15, Ryan Wickline 2 0-0 5, E.T. Weiss 1 0-0 2, Jacob McKlarney 1 2-2 4, Garrett Mann 2 3-6 8, Josh Ganoe 5 0-3 10. Totals 17 8-16 47.
Dakota Smalls 2 1-1 5, E.J. Edwards 3 6-10 12, Anthony Eades 3 2-2 8, Lykel Collier 4 0-0 9, Trevor Mullins 1 2-3 4, Michael Yost 7 3-6 19, Jordan Ponder 5 0-0 12, Matthew Woodrum 1 2-2 4, Aaron Miller 1 0-1 2, Raheem Reed 2 0-1 4. Totals 29 16-26 79.
JM 5 8 16 18 — 47
B 21 23 23 12 — 79
3-point goals — JM: 5 (Settle 3, R. Wickline, Mann); B: 5 (Collier, Yost 2, Ponder 2). Fouled out — none.