Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

March 19, 2014

Defending champion Beavers still a formidable force at the state level

CHARLESTON — Bluefield’s first game in the state tournament sent notice to the rest of West Virginia that the defending Class AA state champions were still a formidable force.

Seeded third in the eight-team field despite losing to only one Class AA team (Westside) this season and two overall — with the second loss coming to Class AAA Greenbrier East — the Beavers played traditional Bluefield basketball and ran past a Chapmanville team who was playing its first ever game in the state tournament.

A 10-0 run midway through the opening period got the Beavers going and pressure defense led to turnovers that were converted into points.

Beavers head coach Buster Large broke down the game.

“I am very pleased,” Large said. “We knew that we had to get out to an early start because a team like that, the more confidence they get, the more difficult it’s going to be to win. Our kids are up to the test.

“The advantage we have right now is veteran players. When you have that, they know, playing in front of this big atmosphere here, what to expect.”

Large praised the play of one Bluefield senior who made a difference, but did not reflect in the scoring column.

“I thought Dakoda Smalls did an outstanding job on (Josh) Butcher,” Large said. “He (Butcher) made some great shots in the first half and we had to cover their big guys inside too, because we knew from our scouting report that they did an extremely good job hanging around the bucket and getting put-backs.”

Bluefield will now have a day off before the semifinals are played on Friday, and Large talked about the Beavers’ plans after the win over the Tigers, including watching a Class AAA game won in an upset by Hurricane over South Charleston, followed by Bluefield’s next opponent, which proved to be the Poca Dots.

“We’re going to watch the next game and later on Fairmont Senior and Poca. I guess you can say that game has a lot of interest for us,” Large said. “We’ll go back (to the hotel), relax a little bit, get up in the morning, go practice and get ready for Friday morning.”

Bluefield (23-2) will take on Poca (25-1) on Friday at 9:30 a.m.

“It’s great to be up here,” Large said, “and know we’ll get another chance on Friday.”

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