Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

December 20, 2012

Bluefield Invitational opens tonight

By BOB REDD
Bluefield Daily Telegraph

BLUEFIELD — Mark your calendars for excitment tonight as the Bluefield Invitational Classic tips at the Brushfork Armory, featuring four teams that have played for state championships the last two seasons. Galax, Scott, Oak Hill and host Bluefield take to the court for four games over the next two nights in a gathering of successful high school hoops programs.

“We’ve talked about this the last couple of years and what we have decided is we’re going to do it as a classic, where there are set match ups,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large.

“I think we put together  a unique field of teams that have in the last two years have either been state champions or runner up. Galax last year won the Division 1 championship in Virginia, their second straight title. Scott was in the state championship game with Oak Hill two years ago. Oak Hill was state champions two years ago, back-to-back, and of course last year we played in the state championship game. It’s a good field that represents southern West Virginia and Southwest Virginia.”

Weather permitting the play will begin tonight at 5:45 with Scott battling Oak Hill. Bluefield will take on Galax at 7:45. On Saturday Galax and Oak Hill will play at 2 p.m. and Bluefield will meet Scott at 4:00 in the finale.

The Scott Skyhawks enter the weekend with a 6-0 record, having recorded wins over Lincoln County, Tolsia, Sherman, Mingo Central, Wayne and Sissonville. Their closest contest was against Mingo Central where they earned a 62-61 victory.

Oak Hill’s Red Devils are competing again in Class AAA after more than a decade in Class AA where they won back-to-back titles in 2010 and 2011. Fred Ferri, the veteran coach who guided Oak Hill to those championships retired at the end of last season and new coach Walter Raines brings in a team with a 2-1 record.

After losing its opener to Westside, Oak Hill has rebounded and won its last two contests against Braxton County and Buchanan-Upshur.

Galax is the two-time defending Division 1 champions in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Maroon Tide are a member of the Mountain Empire District of which locally Graham, Bland County and Narrows belong.

So far this campaign hard times have come upon the Tide, who enter the weekend with a 1-5 record. Galax picked up its first win Tuesday night against Alleghany. They have lost twice to Carroll County, twice to Pulaski County and once to Glenvar.

The host Beavers enter the classic with a 2-0 record, having defeated rivals PikeView 67-38 and Graham 75-32.

The Beavers Jordan Ponder looks forward to playing against Galax and Scott.

“It’s going to be a good tournament, I think everybody is going to come here to watch the game,” Ponder said. “I talked to my friend Tony Hood (Graham point guard) and he told me they were a good team, Galax, so that should be good for us.”

Corey Coppola, a sophomore, like Ponder, on the Beavers team, said, “I think it’s going to be great. We’ve got some great teams coming in to play and we can only get better by playing good teams. I’m really excited.”

Large is grateful to the community for its support of the Beavers and the Bluefield Invitational Classic, which he hopes will develop into a regular event each December at the Armory.

“We are very fortunate to have some sponsors in the area that decided to jump onboard,” Large said. “It’s another pat on the back for the community wanting to help with a great event for student athletes and allowing them to showcase their athletic abilities on the court.”