Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local Sports

March 7, 2014

Sectional champs

Beavers tame Panthers, face Wyoming East next

PRINCETON — The Region III, Section 2 championship plaque was securely in the hands of Lykel Collier, and he was in no hurry to give it up.

No wonder, the hope of a third straight sectional title was nearly taken from him before the season even began.

“It feels amazing,” said Collier, Bluefield’s senior point guard, who was ruled ineligible prior to the season, but was able to get the ruling reversed with the assistance of local attorney Brian Cochran. “With all the offseason, I didn’t know if I was going to get to play or not, but then Mr. Cochran helped me the whole way through.

“It is just amazing, I get to play this last journey with my best friends.”

Bluefield, which won the Class AA state title last season, and lost in the title game in 2012, is one win away from a third trip in a row to Charleston, with a date on Thursday against Wyoming East.

Wyoming East lost to Westside 83-75 in the Section 1 finale on Friday.

“That is a big game next week,” said Collier, who had six points and 13 assists in Bluefield’s 76-52 sectional title game win over PikeView on Friday night in Princeton. “Either team we play will be a tough task, but if we get a good week of preparation we should be able to do a good job next Thursday.”

Anthony Eades led Bluefield with five 3s and 28 points. Jordan Ponder canned four 3s for 14 points, Corey Coppola scored 10 points and D.J. Edwards added seven points, six steals and four rebounds for the Beavers.

“I am very proud of them, a total team effort, very, very difficult game,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large, whose Beavers defeated PikeView for a third time this season. “We felt like we really had to push the ball to really get out to a lead and just do what we had to do and the kids were really responsive.”

PikeView (14-9), which will travel to face Westside in a Region III co-final on Thursday, was led by Zach Meadows with 22 points, but the Panthers committed 20 turnovers, including 12 in the opening half, falling behind by 20, at 32-12, with 4:27 on the clock in the second period.

“They did a really good job of executing their defense,” PikeView head coach Lindsey Jones said. “We kind of knew what they were going to do and they just kind of got us out of our what we were trying to do.

“We had a game plan coming in and they did a good job of forcing out of our game plan and execution.”

Nine of those first half turnovers came in the opening quarter, and the Beavers took advantage of those mistakes.

“We knew that was going to come and we were hoping we could reverse the ball quick enough, but they have got really quick hands and they do a good job of swarming to the basketball and making things difficult for you,” Jones said. “It is really hard to simulate when you get out there. It is something you have only seen twice all year, and now for a third time, so it makes it kind of difficult.”

Eades and Ponder hit two 3s apiece, and Collier followed with one of several pinpoint passes through traffic to Edwards under the basket for a 14-4 lead just 3:38 into the game.

“Just throwing it harder, throwing it crisp through there, looking off the defense,” said Collier, on executing those passes. “A lot of it is getting the defense looking the other way. My bigs and the guards did a good job of finishing their shots.”

Bluefield took an 18-9 lead after one period, and eventually built the margin to 20 on a pair of free throws by Eades, who had 18 points at the break. PikeView was able to whittle it to down to 38-25, with Meadows scoring nine points, but the Beavers double-teamed the talented senior to force several missed shots from close range.

“That was the game plan coming in because the last two games he killed us,” Collier said. “Defensively we knew if we get the ball and we stop him then we had a good chance of winning.

“The first half game plan was when he touched the ball to double down on him and force somebody else to beat him. The game plan worked tonight and we came out with the win.”

 PikeView was able to make one second half run, keyed by 3s from Meadows and Seth Wood, to cut the margin to 46-38 with 3:47 to play, and Jones promptly called a timeout, a decision he later second guessed.

“The coaches and I were just talking about that, did I screw up by calling the timeout, but they both agreed that we worked so hard to get that and we saw we were getting gassed,” Jones said. “We were making shots, but there wasn’t a whole lot of energy there so we thought we would get a timeout.

“Did it backfire? I don’t know, they did come out and make a little run, but when Eades shoots like he did tonight...”

By the time PikeView scored again on a pair of free throws by Jason Weitzel with 5:31 left in the game, the Beavers had gone on a 19-0 run to reach the first of three 27-point leads in the final period.

Eades had seven of Bluefield’s 23 fourth quarter points before fouling out after being called for a technical. PikeView also lost two players to fouls.

“We knew we had to step it up,” Collier said. “We knew we had to get on a run and get going because we knew if it was a close game anything could happen. We just knew that we had to get a quick lead and just get it out and push it. It was a good game tonight.”

Bluefield scored numerous baskets off turnovers, and they’ll to do the same on Thursday against the Warriors, who the Beavers have beaten twice this season, 69-44 and 72-69.

“Our defense has been outstanding all year and it didn’t stop tonight and that is one reason we are 21-2,” said Large, who credited his three assistant coaches, Tony Webster, Don Jones and David Hubbard, with their success. “These coaches have been absolutely outstanding this year coaching and getting us where we are supposed to be.

“We are all in this together and it is going to have to be a total team effort Thursday night because this is going to be a huge game. This region, there are three teams in here that I feel like either one of them could win the state title this year.”

PikeView will face a tall task at Westside, but at the least Panthers have another chance to play. Tanner Farley added eight points in the loss, while Wood had seven and Jason Weitzel scored six.

“This game was one of one our goals, but I like I told one of our guys, it was a goal, but it wasn’t a death sentence, we still get another opportunity to compete and play,” Jones said. “No matter what we are going to Wyoming County, it just depends on which side we go on.

“They are both quality ball clubs and hopefully we can get a victory and go to Charleston.”

Large is looking for a large contingent of Bluefield supporters to fill the Brushfork Armory on Thursday night.

“It was overall a great team effort and surely I want to thank all the Bluefield fans that came out and supported us too,” Large said. “They are a big part of our success and we are going to need them Thursday night.”

—Contact Brian Woodson at bwoodson@bdtonline.com  

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