By DAVE MORRISON
ESPN Radio 102.3 The Ticket
Suffice it to say, they are getting a little tired of seeing one Mookie Collier in Wyoming County.
Nine months after getting a stickback, despite being the shortest guy on the floor, to beat Westside in the Class AA, Region 3 co-finals, Bluefield’s diminutive guard was at it again.
Collier had 25 points, 21 in the second half, as No. 4 Bluefield held off Wyoming East 70-69 in a meeting between last season’s two Region 3 state tournament representatives Tuesday at New Richmond.
It was the season opener for both teams but it had all the drama of an early-March meeting.
At it very well could be these two teams playing it out again in early March. Madness, indeed.
Collier did everything you would expect from a senior, showing leadership and being the guy who wants the ball in crunch time.
Problem for opponents, he’s a junior.
Collier was 10 of 16 from the floor (10 of 14 from 2-point range), had six assists, four steals, four rebounds and just one turnover. He was 5 for 7 from the foul line in the second half, 4 for 5 in the fourth quarter, among his 12 points in the final eight minutes.
For all intents and purposes, he took over the game in the second half, after Bluefield erased a five-point deficit that was as much as nine at one time.
Collier wasn’t alone, as Devon Goins added 14, Donta Hopkins 13 and Cody Fuller 11.
It was a nice victory for the Beavers, who some think might be ranked a little too high in the initial AP preseason poll at No. 4.
Perceptions are what they are, but Bluefield understands that any win in Wyoming County is special. It’s not an easy place to win. Never has been, never will be and that has more to do with talent on the floor than any home team generality that you care to throw out on the table.
Wyoming East is as good as advertised and if the ranking is true, better than most expected.
The loss did momentarily delay and spoil the debut of new head coach Derek Brooks. It will come. Brooks has an understanding of just what he has inherited from Rory Chapman, the Warriors coach who resigned after last season to spend more time with his young family.
Yes, the Warriors lost a boatload of talent from the team that made the state semifinals last year, falling to Poca in Charleston.
Brooks said before the season started that he felt he had 5 or 6 players who could score in double figures on any given night. That is exactly what he got Tuesday, as Dylan Brehm had had 17, Logan Mullins 15, Jon Sims 13 and Zach Cook and Corey McKinney 10 for the Warriors.
That will serve Wyoming East well this season.
The Warriors were 19 of 24 at the free throw line, which was, at least early, a problem last season. Four of those misses however were in the fourth quarter (5 of 9).
For now, they are a little tired of seeing one Mookie Collier in Wyoming County. But if there is to be an early-March meeting between these two, you know they’d like another shot.
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Shady Spring coach Ronnie Olson is building a program predicated on defense. The goal on a nightly basis is to hold teams to under 50 points.
Mission accomplished in the season-opener Tuesday with Greater Beckley Christian.
The Tigers held the Crusaders to 49 points in a 77-49 victory.
It was a 28-point victory that gave Olson plenty to work with in terms of preparing for the season.
Jon Sawyers, who missed 12 games a season ago with a foot injury, returned in fine fashion with 20 points and 15 rebounds. Olson knows he can rely on that. He also got 12 from Michael Holt and 11 from Keith Sexton. Tommy Williams, a freshman, scored his first varisty point with a free throw in the first quarter. He finished with eight, seven in the fourth quarter.
Key points for Shady moving forward will be getting a quicker start, better work on the boards and make lay ups. The Tigers missed several. And improvement in point three will improve point one.
I was impressed with the Crusaders, who were playing a more veteran Tigers team. Understand, this Greater Beckley team has no seniors, and just one junior.
Shady Spring understands that, having gone through that situation a year ago.
Several freshmen saw key minutes. Playing freshmen on the varsity level has become the rule in high school hoops and not the exception (Shady has its own freshman among a veteran-laden program in the aforementioned Williams).
That being the task at hand, Greater Beckley never backed down and, in fact, owned the boards early in the game.
GBC coach Brian Helton was happy with his team’s performance, the way it fought and scrapped. Jon Moore had 21 points, Orlando Potter added 12.
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The Matt Sauvage era at James Monroe got off to a good start Tuesday, as the Mavericks beat Summers County 57-26.
Point guard Dominic Lewis had 24 for the Mavs, who had nine players score in the game.
For Summers, points were hard to come by, with Dacota Thomas, a returning starter, scoring 14. Only three players scored in the game.
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Greenbrier West got off to a good start in a 74-45 victory over Montcalm. The Cavaliers spread the wealth, with Adam John scoring 15, fellow big man Collin O’Dell adding 11 and Hunter Bevins 10.
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Of course Greenbrier East’s Seth Brown did what Seth Brown does, that is score points. Brown had 23 as the Spartans opened with an 84-40 victory over Wayne. He was 9 of 13 from the floor, 7 of 8 from 2-point range. He also made three 3s.
But he did more than that. He also had seven assists and seven rebounds. It was a solid opener for Brown, one of the area’s top scorers a year ago.
He got a lot of help from his friends as well, with Nathaniel Patton scoring 16 and Evan Canterbury and Jasiah Rawls adding 10.
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Around the region in girls basketball, Nicholas County beat Midland Trail 74-27
Anna Hamilton had 24 for Nicholas County and Emily Parker 10. Jenny Wilson and Mallory Stonestreet had six each for Trail.
Meadow Bridge topped Independence 45-32.
Shauna Harless had 15 and Savannah Mullins 12 for Meadow Bridge. Nicole Kester had 13 and Alexis Bolen 11 for Independence.
Riverside topped Valley 96-10.
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Tonight is the much anticipated debut of the Summers County lady Bobcats, who travel to Woodrow Wilson this evening. Sarah Blevins will be making her debut as the Lady Bobcats coach. Brian Nabors and the Flying Eagles are 1-0, after starting the season with a victory over Oak Hill.
PikeView and James Monroe will be participating in a tournament at Princeton.
Nicholas County’s boys team open the season with a game at Nitro. Speaking of freshmen being the rule rather than the exception, Luke LeRose of Nicholas has led the team in scoring in two scrimmage contests.