One down two to go.
The Bluefield Beavers opened the 2014 Class AA West Virginia boys high school state tournament with a 63-34 win over the Chapmanville Tigers on Wednesday morning at the Charleston Civic Center.
The victory sends the defending state champions and third seed in the Class AA tournament to the semifinals against Poca on Friday morning at 9:30 a.m.
Poca defeated Fairmont Senior, which lost to Bluefield in the Class AA state finals last March, 55-40 in another semifinal on Wednesday.
“It was a great team effort, a great opportunity to come out here and get an early start,” Bluefield head coach Buster Large said. “I’m very happy to be able to move on. I thought our kids played extremely hard. We were well-rested and we had a lot of good team effort and energy this morning.”
While Bluefield gained the victory, it was Chapmanville, playing in the school’s first-ever state tournament who drew first blood, going up 2-0. That would, however, be the only lead the Tigers held in the contest.
Bluefield went on a 10-0 run and never looked back, leading 15-7 after the first period. Bluefield, despite being the smaller team, took the ball inside in the first period and scored 10 of its 15 points in the paint, while holding the Tigers to one basket in the lane, its first bucket of the game.
The Beavers broke it open in the second quarter, forcing turnovers and still scoring in the blocks. Bluefield scored five points off turnovers and pushed its lead to 21 on Matthew Woodrum’s jumper at the halftime buzzer and carried a 34-13 lead into the break.
Defense was key for Bluefield as Chapmanville got 11 of its 13 points from Josh Butcher from the perimeter and held the Tigers to one basket down low.
“We had great preparation. We worked hard Saturday, Monday and Tuesday,” Large said. “They have a lot of good size. I thought their guards shot extremely well and we did a good job executing our defensive plan. We wanted to get into different pressure early, be it our half court press, or our full court and we did those things.”
The press and pressure was trouble for Chapmanville as Bluefield forced 25 turnovers in the game and had 17 steals.
The third and fourth period saw the Beavers pull back its pressure, but Chapmanville was unable to mount a comeback. Bluefield led 49-23 after three before Bluefield outscored the Tigers 14-11 in the final eight minutes.
“We knew that Bluefield had a good basketball team,” said Chapmanville head coach Allan Hatcher. “We were just out-manned today. I was trying to look at their personnel, we tried to find weaknesses to compensate. We thought we had a pretty good defensive plan to start the first half, we just couldn’t score.
“I thought defensively we were there for a while, played a triangle-in-two on Eades and Collier and we gave them some problems at first, kept them off-balance, but when you just can’t score for a while, it catches up with you and you saw what happened.”
Anthony Eades and Lykel Collier topped the Bluefield scoring column with 19 and 17 points respectively. Collier added five assists and five steals, while Eades had four steals. D.J. Edwards cleared eight boards and had four steals for the Beavers and Corey Coppola pulled down seven rebounds.
Josh Butcher scored 16 of Chapmanville’s 34 points, the only Tiger in double-digit scoring. Kenny Plumley, a 6-foot-5 post player for the Tigers had 11 rebounds.
Bluefield shot 42 percent from the floor in the game, while Chapmanville mad 30 percent of its shots. The Beaver bench out-scored the Tiger reserves 13-2 and on fast-break points Bluefield had a 16-2 advantage. The Beavers scored 30 points off Chapmanville turnovers.
“Their guards were small, they’ve got long arms and we pressured them and they turned the ball over,” Edwards said.
Continuing on the pressure and turnovers Eades said, “It got us into the flow of the game. We got an early start, getting transition points. It helped us out in the first quarter.”
Collier talked about the pressure Chapmanville attempted to use on him and the Beavers.
“For me, to be able to handle pressure, I’m used to it, triangle-in-two, box-in-one,” Collier said. “A lot of teams try to get the ball out of my hands, so by the time I get up here (state tournament), I should be used to it.”
Over the past three seasons the Beavers have lost only two games to Class AA opponents, this year to tournament No. 4 seed Westside and two years ago in the title game to Tug Valley. Last year Bluefield, who returns all five starters, defeated No. 1 Robert C. Byrd and Fairmont Senior in state tournament play. Despite their success, Bluefield is seeded third in this year’s tournament and that has some of the Beavers hungry.
“Yeah, we’ve got a chip on our shoulder,” Edwards said. “We felt like the whole season a lot of people around the state looked us over. Yeah, we came into Charleston with a chip on our shoulders.”
Eades added, “We’re coming in with the same goals we had last year, to take it one game at a time and stay focused.”
Speaking of the next game, Large commented, “Were going to have our hands full and we’re going to have to be on the top of our game to advance.”
at Charleston Civic Center
Dalton 1-5 3-4 5, Josh Butcher 5-18 3-4 16, Casto 0-2 0-1 0, Plumley 3-6 1-4 7, Cox 2-4 0-2 4, Jor.Butcher 0-3 0-0 0, Lilly 0-0 0-0 0, Moore 0-0 0-0 0, Preece 0-0 0-0 0, Kirk 0-0 0-0 0, Tackett 0-1 0-0 0, Williamson 1-1 0-0 2, Nagy 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 12-40 7-15 34.
Edwards 2-4 2-6 6, Eades 6-19 6-6 19, Collier 6-9 5-6 17, Yost 2-8 0-0 5, Coppola 1-4 1-2 3, Smalls 0-0 0-0 0, Ponder 1-2 0-0 2, Woodrum 2-3 0-1 4, Price 1-2 3-4 5, Huckleberry 1-1 0-0 2. Totals 22-52 17-25 63.
Chapmanville.....................7 6 10 11 — 34
Bluefield...........................15 19 15 14 — 63
3-Point Goals—Chapmanville 3-14 (Josh Butcher 3-12, Dalton 0-1, Tackett 0-1), Bluefield 2-10 (Eades 1-4, Yost 1-4, Collier 0-1, Price 0-1). Fouled Out—Cox. Rebounds—Chapmanville 33 (Plumley 11), Bluefield 35 (Edwards 8). Assists—Chapmanville 8 (Dalton 4), Bluefield 8 (Collier 5). Total Fouls—Chapmanville 17, Bluefield 17. A—na.