By BRIAN WOODSON
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Bluefield Beavers have played PikeView twice, winning by a combined total of 71 points.
So....those games are old news.
If Bluefield head coach Buster Large needed any motivational material for the Beavers, just look at what happened to the Greenbrier East girls, who were undefeated prior to Thursday’s regional co-final, but the Spartans lost to Capital and won’t be able to defend their Class AAA state championship.
“You have got to play,” Bluefield head coach Buster Large said. “You have got to play and you have got to be focused. You just never know in the sectional game or regional game what is going to happen.”
Bluefield (20-3) will play PikeView (7-16) in the Region 3, Section 2 championship game tonight at Princeton Senior High School. Tip-off is slated for 7 p.m.
The winner will host Wyoming East or Westside in co-region next week, while the loser will travel to face either the Warriors or Renegades.
“Both of those teams are very talented,” Large said. “Everybody has said our region will be the toughest to get out this year. Westside has had a great year and Wyoming East is very dangerous so we just feel like we have to play and be focused.”
Bluefield rebounded from a loss to Princeton last Saturday to defeat James Monroe 79-47 in the sectional semifinals on Tuesday, while the Panthers needed overtime to eliminate Mount View 62-58.
“They are young and they have improved quite a bit,” said Large, of the Panthers. “I thought that win over Mount View was a big win for their program Tuesday night.”
There is good news for Bluefield. Anthony Eades, who missed last Saturday’s loss to Princeton with an ankle sprain, and Corey Coppola, who has missed the last three games with a similar injury, will both be back tonight.
“We hope to have everybody back at full speed tomorrow,” Large said. “Anthony played the last game and Corey looked good in practice today so we hope to have them back.”
Eades has led the Beavers in scoring this season with 21.2 points a game, along with 33 3s and 88 percent shooting from the free throw line. Point guard Lykel Collier is averaging 15.1 points, and also has 33 3s, along 8.4 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 3.7 steals a game.
There is also Michael Yost, who is overshadowed somewhat by Eades and Collier, but the talented junior is providing 13.4 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.9 steals a game, and is also a defensive stopper, normally drawing the opposition’s best scorer.
D.J. Edwards has improved and is providing 10.8 points a game.
Bluefield opened its season and the made its return to the Brushfork Armory with a 67-38 win over PikeView way back on Dec. 11. The Beavers built an 18-4 first quarter lead and led 36-15 at the break.
The Beavers were led by Eades with 18 points, 14 from Yost and 12 by Collier. PikeView, playing its second game under first-year head coach Lindsay Jones, was paced by Jason Weitzel with nine points and eight from Tanner Farley.
It was more of the same in the next meeting, a 83-41 win at PikeView on Jan. 22 with the Beavers taking a 43-20 lead into halftime.
Collier had 17 points and 13 assists for Bluefield, while Yost had 15, Eades tossed in 13 and Edwards added 11. The Panthers were paced by Weitzel with 12 points and eight from Logan McKinney.
Large doesn’t expect to have a difficult time motivating his team against the Panthers despite a pair of lopsided wins earlier in the season.
“Number one, we know if we win we get to host a regional and that is a very big motive for our team,” Large said. “There are lot of teams that have gotten better. We feel like we need to be focused and play.”
What Bluefield would ultimately like to achieve is a return to the Class AA state championship game. The Beavers were there last season — looking for their first title since 1995 and 1996 — but dropped a 58-52 decision to Tug Valley.
“That is maybe the toughest loss I have ever been through,” Large said. “Tug Valley had a great team, a very talented team and our team knows they want to get back there and get back in the competition to be a state champion.”
—Contact Brian Woodson