They say every team makes a run in the basketball. On Saturday, however, you could make the case that the Polar Bears never did.
Accustomed to big, game-altering stretches all year, Fairmont Senior hit a wall for much of Saturday's game.
"We would have a little bit of momentum -- a basket, maybe a defensive stop -- and if you look at the game summary, you'll see us having no more than two or three scores in a row," Fairmont Senior coach David Retton said. "It was very difficult for us to overcome that."
About the only thing resembling a run took place in the third period when, down 19, Austin Norman hit a 3-pointer from the left corner and was fouled. He made the ensuring free throw for a four-point play that cut the lead to 44-29 with 3:57 and got the school's Loop Park Loonies roaring louder than they had since the first few minutes.
Norman finished with 10 points, including three 3-pointers, on the day.
"I definitely did," Norman said when asked if he thought the shot could be a momentum-changer. "We were trying to pick up the momentum and try to get it back pretty much the whole game and they fouled me and I thought, 'Maybe this is our start, maybe we're going to get on a little run here.'"
But it was all for naught, as the Beavers closed the third on a 6-2 run and pulled away in the final frame.
One of the tournament's more touching moments might have come in Saturday's waning minutes.
Once Bluefield and Fairmont Senior made the decision to empty its benches, the starters for the Beavers began to celebrate with hugs and high-fives.
But Anthony Eades, moving like he was moving off a screen to take a jumper, did a quick beeline behind the Bluefield bench. There he shared a long embrace with his father, Mike, who was a member of state championship teams at Princeton in 1979 and 1981, and is an NCAA Division I game official.
"My dad has taught me a lot about basketball -- almost everything I know came from him -- so I wanted to hug him and congratulate him as well," the younger Eades said with a smile.
While the balls have been put away and the Civic Center net trimmed down, Bluefield is already in some ways looking ahead to next season.
"Get better and stronger," Collier said of his offseason goals, "because we know it's going to be hard to get back to Charleston with teams are going to be ready for us."
As for the motivation, that's easy: To become the second Bluefield team to go back-to-back, and the first since the 1995 and 1996 squads pulled the feat.
"That's the motivation ... two-peat, just like the 1996 team," he said.
Retton and the Polar Bears also have big goals, especially after the Big 10 conference comprised half (four) of the Class AAA boys' state tournament field in several of the member schools' first year as a double-A program.
"When you lose a championship, I haven't really processed that, but you do feel good about the future of our team," Retton said.
Nick Cammuso is sports editor of The Times West Virginian in Fairmont.