Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 4, 2014

Seniors poised to lead Bluefield

By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRUSHFORK — The defending state Class AA champion Bluefield Beavers begin defense of their title tonight as they take on the Mount View Golden Knights at Princeton Senior High School in semifinal game one of Region III, Section 2.

For the past two seasons Bluefield’s season has concluded on the third Saturday in March and the Beavers are looking to achieving the same this year. During this season and the previous two, the Beavers have lost only two games to Class AA teams — the 2012 state title match to Tug Valley and a game earlier this season to Westside in the Big Atlantic Classic.

Head coach Buster Large talked about post-season play.

“If you have one flat game, you’re not at the top of your game, one game, you’re done,” Large said. “Last year there were a couple of teams in the state undefeated, boys and girls, who got knocked out the first or second round of the sectional.

“Everybody knows that to survive you’ve got to be on top of your game. I think our seniors know that. They have been great for four years, especially Lykel (Collier), Anthony (Eades), D.J. (Edwards), Dakoda (Smalls) and Michael (Yost). They have been absolutely super kids to work with.”

The seniors talked about the pending post-season.

“We’re going to have to come out hard and be real intense on defense and offense,” said Eades, who leads the team in scoring at 18 points per game. “If we mess up one time and lose, we’re done, our high school career is over. We have to make sure we don’t lose.”

Edwards is one of the Beavers’ leading rebounders. Asked about tonight’s game against Mount View, who Bluefield has defeated twice this season, he said, “We have to play them like we do any other team.”

With regard to advancing in the section and region he continued, “We’ve got to finish and go out on top. If we have anything less than a championship, it will be incomplete. We’re going to have to work hard and win it like we did last year.”

Smalls spoke about what he believes is key during tournament play.

“Defense and running our offense as we know we can,” Small said. Asked about the importance of being focused, Smalls continued, “It means everything. You only get one more chance (as seniors), six more games to win it and go back-to-back and leave with a win.”

Azir Price is a senior who is playing his first year, after spending last year with the team in a support role. This year he has been coming off the bench and is another weapon for the Beavers.

“I think it (his role) helps in a lot of ways. If we need a spark off the bench I’ll come, do my job and try my best,” Price said. “I didn’t get to play last year, so I didn’t get a chance to experience the atmosphere of playing in the games. So when I actually start playing in them, it feels good.

“We are going to have to work hard and do the same stuff we did last year — play defense, stay well rested and be ready.”

 Collier is the team’s point guard and assists leader who is looking to make it to the state championship for a third consecutive season. He knows what it will take.

“I know we’ve got to play our best game, every game. We’ve got to give it our all,” Collier said. “I’m feeling like it could be my last game any given time. We all go out with a chip on our shoulder, knowing we’ve got to play hard because you never know what could happen any given night. It could be our last game together.”

Yost is a three-point shooter and defensive specialist, but injury has hampered him since early January. The 6’3 wing said he is able to perform at about 75-80 percent and looks to soon return to full strength if the Beavers make it to regional play. He also realizes what must be done for another title run to take place.

“We’ve got to come in with our minds focused, in practice, on game day and we’ve got to go hard with the intensity,” Yost said. “It’s only right to go out with a state championship. We hope to be there three times and it would suck for our senior year not to win one.”

Tip-off between Bluefield and Mount View is set for 6 o’clock at Princeton Senior High School. PikeView battles James Monroe in the nightcap and tonight’s winners meet Friday for the sectional championship.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com and follow on Twitter @BDTRedd