D.J. Edwards’ basket with 5.4 seconds left on the clock gave the Bluefield Beavers a 62-60 win over the Wyoming East Warriors in a hotly contested game before an energized crowd Tuesday night at the Brushfork Armory.
Following Edwards’ basket a fracas erupted in the bleachers behind the Bluefield bench where a fan was removed from the arena for screaming racial slurs at the Bluefield team during a time out. Then other fans sitting in the vicinity of the ejected spectator scuffled with off-duty policemen that included the Mercer County Sheriff, a West Virginia State Trooper, a Bluefield City policeman, and private security guards before order was restored and the game finished.
After about a 15-minute delay Edwards went to the line attempting to complete the three-point play, but the shot missed. East hurried the ball down the court and a three point attempt at the buzzer just missed, giving the Beavers the victory.
BHS head coach Buster Large said, “Wyoming East has a fine basketball team. I told Coach (Rory) Chapman before the game we would meet in the regional or at the state tournament. They just have an excellent tradition and I told our kids all week they’re going to come to play and they did.”
Early on it appeared the game would be a runaway in favor of Bluefield.
After the Beavers forced ties at two, four and six, Bluefield rolled out to a 21-10 lead. Edwards was the hot hand for the Beavers in the quarter as he scored 12 points.
“The last game we played against them I had foul trouble and barely got to play, so I wanted to come out and help my team,” Edwards said.
The Warriors fought back, cutting the Bluefield lead to four by the end of the first quarter, 21-17.
Jordan Ponder drained a three to open the second quarter to put the Beavers up by six, but slowly Wyoming East climbed back once again. Two Christian Hedinger free throws made it a three point game and East was within one when Josh Tunstalle went coast-to-coast. A long three by Cody Lester from the right wing with 90 seconds before halftime put the Warriors back ahead 32-31.
Bluefield took the lead to the intermission thanks t a putback by Lykel Collier with just under a minute left in the half.
The game would go back and forth in the third stanza. Austin Canada’s three two minutes it knotted things at 35. Late in the quarter Bluefield went up by six before another Hedinger trey, coming with a minute left in the third made it a two point game. Ponder then took control for the Beavers, hitting a three and seconds later a layup to push the home lead back to seven points. Anthony Eades also had a hot hand for Bluefield in the third as he scored seven points.
Another charge was in the books for Wyoming East. Hedinger drilled his third trey of the game to again pull the Warriors to within one and at 6:25 Bluefield called time.
Throwing the ball in and seeing Wyoming East in a zone defense, the Beavers pulled the ball out to near mid-court where Michael Yost dribbled the ball, unguarded without moving. After two minutes Yost tucked the ball under his right arm and just stood. East remained in the zone. With 2:55 left in the game Yost passed the ball to Ponder on the left wing and Wyoming East abandoned the zone and went to a man-to-man defense. Bluefield’s shot with 2:40 remaining bounded off the rim.
“They were in a zone and we were trying to pull them out of it and it worked to our favor, but it almost didn’t because we missed two shots there late,” Large said.
Edwards made one-of-two free throws with 2:09 left before Tunstalle again went coast-to-coast and tied the game at 58. Looking to break the tie, Edwards was called for an offensive foul with 1:28 to play, his third, but seconds later Eades stole the ball near mid-court and laid it through to put Bluefield on top 60-58 with 1:02 to go.
Coming out of a timeout the Warriors ran 40 seconds off the clock and called time with 22 ticks left. Collier fouled Tunstalle with 14.8 left and the Wyoming East senior made both charity tosses to knot the game at 60.
Bluefield got the ball down low to Edwards who went to the basket. The whistle blew, as Edwards and Brett Bowling collided in the paint. Edwards’ shot went through the rim and the blocking foul signal was given as the foul was on East.
“I thought he was going to call a charge on me,” Edwards said. “When I saw him put his hand down and give me the basket I was surprised he called it.”
The Beavers called time, at which time the incident in the stands took place that delayed the conclusion of the game for nearly 15 minutes.
When order was restored, Edwards missed the free throw and the shot at the buzzer did not fall and Bluefield escaped with the win.
“It (the delay) took our momentum down because our momentum was up before that happened,” Edwards commented. “But then I had to knock the free throw down after all that happened, and I didn’t.”
Edwards led Bluefield with 21 points, three rebounds, two assists and a steal. Eades tallied 17 and Ponder came off the bench to score 10. Collier, who came into the game needed 10 points to reach the 1,000 point plateau in his career finished with five points, four assists and three steals, while Yost had four assists.
Tunstalle led Wyoming East with 21, Hedinger popped in 12, Canada 11 and Bowling added 10.
It was Senior Night and prior to the game Bluefield High School honored senior members of the basketball team, cheerleading squad and dance team.
David Woodrum and Aaron Miller were recognized along with their parents as senior members of the Beavers basketball team.
Wyoming East, 14-7, wraps up regular season play Friday night at PikeView.
“I thought we showed a lot of heart tonight,” Chapman said. “People are getting down on us a little bit, saying we’re not this, we’re not that. We have not lost to a bad team. Every team we’ve lost to is good, Bluefield twice, Westside twice, Woodrow twice, and a good Robert C. Byrd team. There are no chumps on our schedule.
“Our kids are focused coming into tournament. We just took the No. 1 team, they’ve lost two games, we had a shot to win the game tonight. That’s all you can ask for.”
Bluefield, 19-2, concludes its regular season play Friday night at Princeton. The Tigers are one of Bluefield’s two losses this season and Edwards said the Beavers will be ready.
“We’re going to watch film on our last game and work in practice tomorrow and the next day to get ready for them on Friday,” Edwards said.
Large added, “They (Princeton) have had a great year, we’ve had a great year and I predict standing room only and I think area fans will get a real treat.”
At Brushfork Armory
WYOMING EAST (14-7)
Austin Canada 4 0-0 11, Cody Lester 2 0-2 4, John Morgan 0 0-0 0, Josh Tunstalle 5 10-10 21, Joseph Cornett 0 0-0 0, Christian Hedinger 4 2-2 12, Brett Bowling 4 2-2 10, Alec Lusk 0 0-0 0, Totals 20 14-16 60.
D.J. Edwards 9 3-4 21, Anthony Eades 4 5-6 17, Lykel Collier 2 0-0 5, Michael Yost 3 0-0 7, Jordan Ponder 4 0-0 10, Matthew Woodrum 1 0-0 2, Totals 23 8-10 62
Wyoming East...................17 15 19 9 — 60
Bluefield.............................21 12 23 6 — 62
3-point baskets: WE - 5 (Canada 3, Tunstalle, Hedinger), B - 6 (Eades 2, Collier, Yost, Ponder 2)