Anthony Eades heard the skeptics, but after two wins in 16 hours, perhaps their tune has changed.
One night after Bluefield beat Wyoming East with a convincing 75-56 decision, the Beavers returned to Brushfork Armory on Saturday afternoon and dispatched of Class AAA Wheeling Park 66-48.
“You don’t think that will have a lot of effect, but when you play in front of a huge crowd like we did last night and a very emotional game like we did last night with a lot on the line, it is just tough coming back and playing in the afternoon, but I am very pleased,” Bluefield head coach Buster Large said.
That gave the Beavers three wins in five days, and increased Bluefield’s win streak to five. Bluefield also defeated James Monroe on Tuesday.
“Three big wins, that helped us, and two wins against teams in our region,” said Eades, who led Bluefield with 27 points against Wheeling Park, just hours after scoring 26 at Wyoming East. “Last night was a big win and today was a big win against a good AAA team.
“A lot of people were doubting us, but hopefully they are not doubting us anymore.”
Michael Yost added 18 points for Bluefield, while Lykel Collier contributed 12 points and nine assists.
“I thought Anthony had a great game, I thought Lykel ran our offense well, I thought Michael Yost really had a fine overall game,” Large said. “He does so many things for us not only offensively, but defensively, rebounding and leadership.
“I am really pleased, we have had a tough week and we are starting to come around to what I expected at the beginning the season.”
While Bluefield (7-1) jumped on Wyoming East with a 29-point first quarter, the Beavers trailed the Patriots 14-13 after one period, but seven second quarter points by Yost sparked the Beavers to a 29-26 lead after an opening 16 minutes that included six lead changes and one tie.
“It was hard playing back to back games against tough teams,” said Eades, who had nine points in each of the first and fourth quarters. “We were tired from last night, it kind of showed in the first half, but we got through it.
“The coaches just told us to be patient and let the game to us and it worked for us.”
Bluefield wasn’t the only weary team. Wheeling Park (3-6) lost at Parkersburg South 90-77 on Friday night.
“We have had a tough schedule here, but we knew what we were getting into,” Wheeling Park head coach Michael Jebbia said. “Bluefield is good every year and they have a lot of guys back with Eades and Collier and Yost.”
“We competed, I think it was a 4 or 5 point game and it kind of got away from us...Bluefield is going to win a lot of games, I think we improved today but we still have to shore up some things.”
Wheeling Park, which was led by Luke Saseen with 17 points and Ryan Reinbeau with nine, took its final lead at 30-29 on consecutive layups by Andrew Kowalo less than a minute into the third.
“I know (our) players are very tired, but you have to give credit to Wheeling Park, they had to play last night too,” Large said. “We beat a very good team. This team we played today was as fundamentally sound as any team I have seen in a long time. This coach does an outstanding job with them.”
Bluefield continued the pressure the ball, forcing five turnovers in that period alone, and used a 14-4 run to take a 43-34 lead. The Patriots managed to trim the lead to four, at 49-45, with 4:59 to play, but the Beavers pulled away, allowing just one more field goal in the game.
“We’re getting better in a lot of phases of the game and we have to continue to work,” said Large, who is seeing improvement in the inside game from Corey Coppola, D.J. Edwards, David Woodrum and Matthew Woodrum, who combined for nine points on Saturday, but had 19 against Wyoming East. “Believe me, right now we are about halfway through and everybody is working hard to get better, including ourselves.
“I feel like the last week and a half we have made great strides in a lot of areas, just running our offense, getting our guys loose, teamwork, cutting off the ball and all that makes you a better ball club.”
There is also the one aspect of the game that Eades knows is crucial to Bluefield success.
“Defense,” he said. “We have got to work on defense a lot because down the stretch we are going to be facing bigger teams than us so good defense is going to be huge.”
Up next for the Beavers is a return engagement with Graham, who they mauled with ease, 75-32, on Dec. 14. It isn’t expected to be as easy on Wednesday when Bluefield visits the G-Men, who are 10-3, winning five games in a row.
“That will be a good game at Graham, we have to get prepared for that,” said Eades, who’s father, Mike, served as a referee at Florida State in the Seminoles’ loss Saturday against North Carolina. “We can’t think about last game, we have to forget about that, they could probably improve a lot since that game too.”
“You can throw out the records of both teams,” added Large. “They are doing well, just like I expected. Whatever we have done, it will be a very big crowd, a lot of emotion and we are looking forward to it.”
What Eades would really like is another shot at a state championship, something that nearly happened last year if not for a loss to Tug Valley in the Class AA title game.
There is no looking ahead from these Beavers. There is plenty of basketball left to play.
“That is definitely the goal, but we have to focus on the sectionals and our regionals and then the two games to get to the final game,” Eades said. “We have got a long ways, but we can do it, we have got a chance.”
at Brushfork Armory
WHEELING PARK (3-6)
Ryan Reinbeau 2 4-4 9, Luke Saseen 7 3-7 17, Trenton Smith 0 2-2 2, Michael Thomas 2 2-2 7, Andrew Kowalo 3 0-0 6, Theo Blackston 3 0-0 6, Chalmer Moffett 0 1-2 1, Zachary Phillips 0 0-0 0, DuQuan Smith-Ellerbee 0 0-0 0, Phillip Bledsoe 0 0-0 0. 17 12-17 48.
D.J. Edwards 0 0-2 0, Anthony Eades 10 4-4 27, Lykel Collier 5 2-3 12, Michael Yost 8 0-0 18, Corey Coppola 1 0-0 2, David Woodrum 1 2-2 4, Matthew Woodrum 1 1-2 3. Totals 26 9-13 66.
Wheeling Park...................14 12 14 8 — 48
Bluefield............................13 16 17 20 — 66
3-point goals: WP 2 (Reinbeau 1, Thomas 1); BF 5 (Eades 3, Yost 2). Total fouls:WP 15; BF 12. Fouled out: none. Technicals: none. JV—WP wins 70-56.