By DAVE MORRISON
ESPN Radio 102.3 The Ticket
Fayetteville scored all of 19 points in the final 20 minutes of its game with Shady Spring Thursday.
Not the production coach Matt Boyd was hoping for coming off an 83-point outing in the Pirates opener against Valley (83-44 final).
He will take the end result, a 39-36 victory on a night when the shots weren’t dropping. What was dropping was apparently residue off fans’ shoes, a result of the salt spread outside the school to break up the ice on a bitterly cold night.
The cold outside mirrored the shooting.
Part of the Pirates shooting dilemma was the defense of Shady Spring. The Tigers are still only giving up just 40.3 points per game, less than 40 in its last three games. Normally, that kind of stellar defense is enough to win games.
The Pirates though has an answer on defense themselves.
Fayetteville has beefed up the schedule after winning 20 games a year ago and still found themselves the No. 8 seed going into the state tournament. Boyd was cognizant of that fact, and added Shady Spring and Independence, to Class AA teams who figure to be teams capable of making some postseason noise, as well as Williamstown in the Wirt County Tournament.
The ability to win games like Thursday’s is a character trait carried over from the football team, which went 12-0 before running into eventual state champion St. Mary’s in the Class A semifinals.
When Fayetteville needed a break in football, it created one. The Nicholas County win (44-42) and the Buffalo win (24-21) are good examples.
Players Marcus Lively and Will Fenton (who contributed 31 of the team’s 31 points Thursday) as well as Alex Hewitt and Dalton and Jordan Dempsey were standouts on that football team.
But this was also a good basketball team even before that run, evidenced by the berth in the state tournament last year.
Thursday’s was a quality win, to borrow the college analogy. One that may have been missing from last year’s resume.
Fayetteville won’t be held to 39 points on many nights. It likely won’t miss four of five free throws in the final minute and have to survive a couple of really good looks at 3s, like Shady had, to win a game. Likely the floor won’t always be slick, a third stoppage of play Thursday quelling a Fayetteville run that saw it take a 20-9 lead at the four-minute mark of the second quarter.
But on nights when it does happen, it’s always good to have the resolve it takes to win those games.
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Most of the summer was spent hearing how much Wyoming East, under the direction of first-year coach Derek Brooks, was going to surprise people in Region 3.
Some did not drink the Kool-Aid. I would be one of those.
In fairness, how many teams can lose players like David Carte, Logan Blankenship, R.J. Folden, Cody Lester and Alec Lusk and not miss a beat?
There are a few. Wyoming East is one of those.
Count me among the believers now after Wyoming East’s 68-64 victory over Logan Thursday.
The Warriors have now won three straight beating a Logan team that was tied at No. 9 in the Class AA preseason poll. It’s not like people expected the Warriors to fall off a cliff. They did tie (with Shady) for what would be 11th in the state in the initial poll. You’ve heard the polls are worthless, which, for all intents and purposes they are, but they give a pretty good indication of perceptions across the state.
Wyoming East did beat Riverside in the GW Legends Classic last weekend and took out Liberty as well, the one impressive thing about that being the 105 points it put up. Liberty is down, yes, but nobody else has done that.
And it did it without two double figure scorers hitting double digits. Six had double figure games.
Wyoming East is getting scoring across the board, led by Zach Cook’s 15.5 ppg. Dylan Brehm averages 14.5, Jon Sims 13.3 and Corey McKinney 10.0. Four other Warriors – Logan Mullins, Ethan England, Canada McQuade and Evan Preece have scored in double figures in the first four games.
That one loss came in the opener, 70-69, to Class AA No. 4 Bluefield.
Count me among those starting to drink the green Kool-Aid.
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There is a nice tournament in Princeton beginning Friday night when Bluefield and PikeView battle at 6 p.m. and Mount View and Princeton follow.
It’s intriguing that two sectional opponents – Mercer County rivals even – would agree to play with a regular-season game scheduled Tuesday.
But they are, and it should be a quality matchup.
Bluefield is led by Mookie Collier (21.5 ppg) and is off to a 2-0 start. Cody Fuller is averaging 12.5 ppg, Donta Hopkins 11.5 and Devin Goins 11.0. The Beavers season-opening win over Wyoming East gives credence to the No. 4 preseason ranking, given what Wyoming East has done since. Plus it was at Wyoming East.