By TOM BONE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
On one sideline Friday night, a team celebrated its 18th victory, citing its defense and its drives inside. On the other, a team left frustrated by the differential in fouls called for a second night in a row.
The scoreboard at the Brushfork Armory recorded the result that mattered — Bluefield 86, James Monroe 61 in an intra-sectional battle.
Jacob McKlarney jump-started the visiting Mavericks (5-13), nailing three treys and scoring James Monroe’s first 11 points for an 11-8 lead three minutes into the game.
A pair of three-pointers from the Mavs’ Garrett Mann, and a fast-break basket by Devin Carr after a steal by E.T. Weiss, and James Monroe had a 19-17 upset going after the first quarter, by making seven of 11 field-goal tries.
Bluefield (18-2) head coach Buster Large said, “They shot extremely well, and that’s a sign of a young team getting better.”
Unlike many of Bluefield’s opponents, the Mavericks were not rattled by the Beavers’ full-court press, repeatedly sending accurate passes to open men spaced across the width and length of the floor.
James Monroe head coach Jonathan McPherson said, “We really came out and executed our game plan. The press didn’t bother us early. I know Jacob McKlarney and Garrett Mann were really hitting big shots there in the first quarter.”
“We really looked good in that first quarter.”
But foul trouble was mounting for James Monroe, which committed its seventh team foul with 1:52 left in the opening period.
Key starters for the Mavericks had to spend some time on the bench in the second quarter, and the visitors’ attack was not the same.
Bluefield outscored their guests 33-7 in the period and took a 50-26 lead at intermission. The Beavers attempted 30 foul shots in the first half and made 23; the Mavericks were 0-for-1.
Large said, “Their kids played hard. That’s all you can ask. Fortunately, we were able to get a little breathing room ... right before the half.”
The Mavericks’ hot start was “unexpected,” said Anthony Eades, who had 18 points for the Beavers.
He said, “They came out hitting threes everywhere, all over the court, so we had to knuckle down on defense — and we finally stopped them a little bit in the second quarter.”
McPherson said, “Honestly, I know we were beating Bluefield, and then the refs had to jump in, and they took care of their business,” McPherson said.
“I usually don’t say the refs will make one team win or lose, but when we only shoot one free throw in the first half, and they shoot in the 30s ... you can tell that that’s not an even part for the officials.
“Honestly, this is the second (consecutive) game we’ve had officials that are like that. Last night (Thursday), PikeView shot 46, we shot 11. ...
“I know the officials and the free throw line beat us tonight. It wasn’t Bluefield. It was the officials.”
The final total showed Bluefield going 28 for 47 at the free throw line while James Monroe went 7 for 8.
Large said, “Our foul shooting’s got to improve. We didn’t do a very good job on that.”
Bluefield’s Michael Yost said about James Monroe, “They came out and played us about the best game they’ve played all year.”
Large made the unusual move of sitting down his starting five after Lykel Collier knocked down two foul shots to give the Beavers the lead for good at 20-19.
“The coaches subbed us out,” Yost said. “We talked it over on the bench, and we said we’ve got to turn it up a little bit. We went to Coach after that and told him ... and we turned it up.”
Collier scored 12 points in the rest of the first half. He finished the game with 29 points, six assists, six rebounds and one steal.
He said, “Coach told us to always be aggressive. If we go to the basket, we should get foul shots.”
Eades said about the inside game, “We knew they liked to go for blocked shots, so we just drove to the basket. And they (were) already in foul trouble, so we just continued to do that, and that’s how our lead grew.”
Bluefield post player Corey Coppola left the contest late in the second quarter and did not return. He fell to the court while contesting for a rebound, and grabbed his right ankle. Large and assistant coach Tony Webster held him up as he left the playing floor.
“My big concern right now is Corey Coppola,” Large said. He would not speculate on his condition “until I’m able to get further information.”
“But we had other kids come in and play hard, and that’s a sign that we’ve got some depth now that’s developed, from the 20 games that we’ve gotten into, so that’s starting to pay off for us.”
In the third quarter, James Monroe made seven of its eight field-goal attempts, including seven straight points by McKlarney.
But the Mavs gave up the ball eight times in the third period, often leading to transition baskets by Collier.
The Bluefield guard had 11 points in the stanza and were ahead 71-43 going into the final period.
Yost said, “After halftime, we came out and played some Bluefield Beavers basketball.”
Bench players entered the game for Bluefield and the Mavericks started the fourth with a 10-3 run in less than four minutes.
Eventually both teams played reserve players down the stretch, and Bluefield managed a 25-point spread at the final buzzer.
Yost scored 10 points for Bluefield and D.J. Edwards provided seven rebounds and three steals.
McKlarney led the Mavs with 23 points, hitting five treys. Mann added 14 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Josh Ganoe had seven boards.
James Monroe came into the game averaging 51 points per contest. Bluefield was putting up a shade more than 73 points per game, and has scored 78 or more points in six of its last eight outings.
The Beavers beat the Mavericks 70-49 on Jan. 8.
McPherson said, “I know we can play with Bluefield; we showed them, the first half. Honestly, I think everybody in this gym knew that we could play with Bluefield.
“But when our hands are tied, when the officials are just making calls on one end of the floor, there’s not much we can do about it. You know, I felt like we played eight on five tonight, and it’s really not fair.
“I mean, it’s not just against me, it’s against my players, and I take that personally. Honestly, the officiating both nights, consecutively, was very, very poor, in my opinion.”
The Mavericks close out the regular season with a pair of home games, playing Summers County on Tuesday and Mount View on Thursday.
Bluefield hosts Wyoming East on Tuesday.
Collier said, “They’re always a tough team. They always play us hard.”
Eades said, “That’s going to be a real physical and tough game, so we’ve got to be ready for that, too. We’ve got to be prepared, in these next few days.”
The Beavers finish their regular slate at Princeton next Friday, Feb. 22.
— Contact Tom Bone at email@example.com
At Brushfork National Guard Armory
JAMES MONROE (5-13)
Micah Deskins 3 1-1 7, Chastin Wickline 0 0-1 0, Ryan Wickline 2 0-0 5, Caleb Spencer 0 6-6 6, Preston Jones 1 0-0 2, E.T. Weiss 1 0-0 2, Devin Carr 1 0-0 2, Jacob McKlarney 9 0-0 23, Garrett Mann 5 0-0 14. Totals 22 7-8 61.
Dakota Smalls 1 1-2 3, D.J. Edwards 4 1-3 9, Anthony Eades 3 10-10 18, Lykell Collier 9 10-10 29, Trevor Mullins 2 0-0 4, Micahel Yost 3 3-8 10, Jordan Ponder 1 0-2 2, David Woodrum 2 0-1 4, Corey Coppola 0 1-2 1, Matthew Woodrum 2 2-8 6, Aaron Miller 0 0-1 0. Totals 27 28-47 86.
James Monroe..................19 7 17 18 — 61
Bluefield............................17 33 21 15 — 86
Three-point goals — JM 10 (R. Wickline 1, McKlarney 5, Mann 4); BHS 4 (Eades 2, Collier 1, Yost 1). Fouled out — JM, Weiss.