By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
One week ago the Bluefield Beavers and Summers County Bobcats met on the hardwood and the Beavers claimed an 83-67 win.
Tuesday night the Bobcats paid a visit to the Brushfork Armory and after four quarters of action, several scuffles, 40 personal fouls, three technical fouls and the ejection of a spectator, the Beavers escaped with a come-from-behind 84-81 win.
“We played with a lot of heart,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large. “To come back the way we did, under the circumstances, we could have very easily folded but we didn’t.”
D.J. Edwards scored the first five points of he game to give Bluefield an early 5-0 lead. Edwards continued to make his presence felt in the paint in the first quarter as he scored seven of the Beavers’ first nine pints and helped push the home team to an eight point lead.
Slowly Summers County clawed back. Ta’Ron Ayers basket with 2:00 left in the period brought the Bobcats to within four and his three point play with 90 seconds left in the quarter brought the Cats to within one and second later two free throws by T.J. Smith gave the visitors their first lead of the night.
Plagued by foul trouble early, Summers County was in the bonus before the first quarter ended and used it to take a 20-19 lead after one stanza.
The Beavers reclaimed the lead at the onset of the second only to see the Bobcats jump back on top by three on a Smith layup.
Things got tense midway through the second period when Summers County’s Ta’Ron Ayers and Bluefield’s Michael Yost went to the court for a loose ball. The players scuffled, both Yost and Ayers were assessed a technical foul, and a spectator who came out of the stands onto the floor from Summers County was ejected from the armory.
When play resumed Bluefield cut the lead to one on a bucket by Edwards, but a minute later the Beavers’ other big man, Corey Coppola, went to the bench with his third personal foul.
Lykel Collier’s three again pulled Bluefield to within one at 36-35, but Summers closed the half on an 8-4 run and led 43-39 at halftime.
A total of 19 fouls were called in the first half, 12 on Bluefield, and Summers County shot 21 free throws compared to nine for the Beavers.
It took 25 seconds into the second half for Bluefield to tie the game at 43. A basket by Edwards, then a steal on the inbounds pass and score by Yost made things even.
Bluefield switched from its usual man-to-man defense to a 2-3 zone and Summers County was content to run clock. The Beavers climbed back on top for the first time since the first quarter on a three-point play by Edwards and held the lead for nearly three minutes. Summers tied it up on Isaiah Brown’s trey with just over three minutes to go in the third. The Bobcats retook the lead late in the period and led 57-55 headed into the final eight minutes.
Collier’s steal and lay up made it 57-all, and then Collier was called for a foul, after which Large was assessed a technical foul. When the dust was settled and four free throws shot by Summers, three of them good, the visitors were on top 60-57. The lead grew as high as seven, 68-61, before the Beavers made yet another charge.
The teams exchanged the lead for the remainder of the game. With 2:59 to go David Woodrum stole an inbounds pass and Edwards made the bucket to put Bluefield up 72-71. After a three-point-play by Smith put the Bobcats back on top a long three by Collier gave the lead back to Bluefield with 2:35 to go.
Down by one with 44 seconds on the clock, Collier drained a three to put Bluefield back ahead 80-78. With Bobcats’ coach James Payne calling for one shot, Summers County milked the clock. With 10.5 to go Ayers lost the ball out of bounds.
Fouled on the inbounds play, Eades made two free throws with 8.5 showing on the clock. Summers County pushed the ball upcourt and Ayers connected on a three with 1.5 left to make it a one-point game.
Summers fouled Bluefield as soon as the ball was put into play and with 0.4 on the scoreboard Eades swished two free throws to give Bluefield its final points of the game and a hard-earned 84-81 win.
Edwards led Bluefield with 26 points, 10 rebounds and two steals. He was 12-of-13 shooting from the field.
“It was tough. I knew they (Summers County) would come to play after what we did to them at their place,” Edwards said.
Talking of his performance Edwards continued, “When I get the chance I try my bet to make it and do what I’ve got to do to help the team get the ‘W.’ Our press helped us get back and we got some easy steals and were trapping them as they got past half court.”
Eades finished with 24 points. Collier tallied 13 with seven assists and David Woodrum came off the bench and had five steals.
“A team has got to show character and heart and I am so happy how we responded,” Large said. “You’ve got to prepare yourself every night to play. For some reason we were a little bit light tonight and I hope that we are going to learn from this one. I’m very happy with the win but we had to earn it.”
Smith led Summers County and all scorers with 39 points including 19-of-22 from the free throw line. Ayers finished with 19.
Asked what his game plan was coming into the game, Payne said, “We didn’t really have a game plan. We just played them the way we played the last time and it worked better for us. We played a little smaller because we had a starter (Jacob Carr) get hurt and didn’t go tonight, so we started a smaller team. That might have helped us, I don’t know.
“We made some big plays down the stretch and they made some big plays. It was a tough game.”
Bluefield, 14-1 and winners of 12 straight, will host River View, Thursday at 6 p.m. at the Brushfork Armory. Summers County, 8-7, will host Liberty-Raleigh on Thursday.
At Brushfork Armory
Summers County (81)
Isaiah Brown 3 2-2 10, Matt Ryan 0 0-0 0, Ta’Ron Ayers 5 7-9 19, Jaquan Ayers 1 0-0 2, Josh Graham 4 2-4 11, T.J. Smith 8 19-22 39, Totals 21 30-37 81.
Dakota Smalls 1 0-0 2, D.J. Edwards 12 2-4 26, Anthony Eades 7 9-10 24, Lykel Collier 5 0-0 13, Michael Yost 4 2-2 10, Jordan Ponder 0 0-0 0, David Woodrum 2 0-2 4, Corey Coppola 2 1-4 5, Matthew Woodrum 0 0-0 0, Totals 33 14-22 84.
Summers County.............20 23 14 24 — 81
Bluefield........................19 20 16 29 — 84
3-point baskets - SC 6 (Brown 2, T. Ayers, Graham, Smith 2), B 4 (Eades, Collier 3). Fouled out: SC - Brown, Graham, B - Yost