While most sports cliches are arguably nothing more than something to say when one has little to say, sometimes they ring true.
And that's certainly what took place at the Charleston Civic Center on Saturday afternoon, as defense helped win a boys' state basketball championship for Bluefield.
The Beavers clamped down on Fairmont Senior's star guards, Travon Horton and Jarin Hilson, and held the rest of the Polar Bears in check en route to a hard-nosed 63-43 title game victory.
Horton, averaging nearly 20 points a game on the year, was saddled with foul trouble all afternoon after being hit with personal No. 3 late in the first half. And while he played carefully enough to not foul out, not being able to be aggressive and go full-throttle ensured Fairmont Senior would never hit top speed, either.
In all, Horton finished with a season-low eight points on 2 of 8 shooting and played just 19 minutes. Hilson. who entered states scoring over 17 points and hitting 50 percent of his field goals, was held to a team-best 11 on Saturday.
"We emphasized we could not let them do that like they did yesterday," Bluefield coach Charles "Buster" Large said of Fairmont's 65-58 semifinal win over Bridgeport that saw its offense clicking more than it did on Saturday. "They're too good of a team. We wanted to get a hand up, we had to move on defense and we had to cover the corners."
Looking at their games, there is a lot of the same when it comes to Lykel Collier and Hilson: Speed, quickness, passing ability and the knack of being able to put the ball in the basket.
On Saturday, the two junior point guards faced off, and the matchup was fairly even.
Coller scored 12 points to Hilson's 11. He had seven assists to his counterpart's five. And each hit four field goals in the contest.
The difference? Collier didn't have the added pressure of a sidekick in foul trouble ... and also the final result, as Bluefield won its first state title in 17 years.
It's not the first time the two have been on the court together, as both were teammates in AAU ball for several seasons.
"Ironically, me and him played together for five years so I knew what he was going to do," Hilson said of Collier. "But he dictated the game; he did what he wanted the whole game. Him and Eades. We let Eades get too deep and their whole offense ran through him. I just wish we could have defended them two better."
"It was a big challenge," Collier said. "He's a good ball-handler and a good player, but I just knew going in we were friends on the court. I just had to go out and play against him. He was just another person to guard."