Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

March 12, 2014

State berth at stake as Beavers host Warriors

By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — By BOB REDD

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BRUSHFORK — Winner to state, loser go home.

Simply put, those will be the consequences of tonight’s Class AA Region III co-final between the Bluefield Beavers and Wyoming East Warriors.

Bluefield enters the game winners of 14 straight games, their last loss coming against Westside on Jan. 27 in the Big Atlantic Classic. It was only the second loss to a Class AA team the past three seasons, the only other to Tug Valley in the 2012 state championship game.

Wyoming East comes to the Brushfork Armory with a 17-5 record. Of the Warriors five losses this year two have come at the hands of the Beavers, two to Westside and one to Mountain Mission School in Grundy.

Bluefield has won the last seven meetings against the Warriors. The last East victory came in the 2010 regional finals. In that game Bluefield’s Craig Ponder scorched the nets for 54 points and East’s Chase Morgan scored 56 in a two-point game which began with East hitting two technical free throws to start the game due to a Bluefield player allegedly dunking in pre-game warm-ups.

Beavers head coach Buster Large knows his team has a tough road ahead. He talked about this year’s games where Bluefield won at home by 25 and took a 3-point decision at New Richmond.

“Over here they didn’t have (Ta’Ron) Ayers and over there they did,” Large said. “He makes a tremendous difference because he goes to point guard and the other kids can play the two or three. He’s one of the best basketball players in the state in any classification. We’ve got a big, big job in containing him.”

Ayers became eligible at Wyoming East in mid-January. He played last season at Summers County High School and the year before at Woodrow Wilson. He along with Christian Hedinger and Austin Canada form an explosive offensive backcourt for the Warriors.

Large said previous games and records don’t mean a thing this time of year.

“We have to put the success of the past three years behind us. The sectionals started a new season,” Large said. “Being 21-2 is nice, but obviously Thursday night the stakes are high on the outcome of the game because it’s a trip to Charleston.”

Large feels that the experience gained throughout the year by Bluefield’s reserves is valuable as the team continues in post-season play.

“We were in a position where we have won by pretty large margins and have played a lot of kids. It has helped us down the road because we have a lot of depth on the bench,” Large said. “We have three to four players that we can immediately go to if we get in foul trouble or any kind of injury situation.”

Look for Bluefield to start seniors Anthony Eades, Lykel Collier and D.J. Edwards, junior Jordan Ponder and sophomore Corey Coppola. Senior Michael Yost, a starter until injury in the Greenbrier East loss, will play and continues to get stronger. Also look for Matthew Woodrum, Azir Price, Jordan Huckleberry and Dakoda Smalls to contribute for the Beavers.

Bluefield is looking to make its third consecutive trip to the state tournament and title game. The Beavers are the defending Class AA state champions.

A full house is expected at the Brushfork Armory where tip-off is scheduled for 7 o’clock.

— Contact Bob Redd at bredd@bdtonline.com