By Bill Nestor
Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd have enjoyed a healthy rivalry since the inception of the school at One Eagle Way in Clarksburg 20 years ago.
Out of all sports that these two schools collide in, boys basketball is the most competitive for the longest period of time.
These teams met for the first time this season this past Saturday in Bridgeport. Typically one or both teams are at the top of the heap in the rankings, but that wasn’t the case heading into this matchup. These teams were a combined 4-6 going in and there were plenty of question marks surrounding the start to this campaign for both. The major concern that they share is inexperience and the growing pains that accompany it.
The symptoms of inexperience are inconsistent play and a variety of miscues that range from ill advised shots to untimely turnovers.
The good news is that this is a curable condition and Dr. Nestor has the cure. I’ve written a prescription for veteran mentors Mike Roby (Indian Head Coach) and Bill Bennett (Flying Eagle Head Man). It’s time and they say it heals all wounds, which would be just what the doctor ordered! Both of these squads are extremely talented and they possess all of the tools to make a deep postseason run. I know what many of you are thinking – How do we know that they will develop into the players that they are capable of becoming? The answer is the two head coaches that run the show for their respective programs and their top notch assistants. These players are in good hands and will be nurtured into the best players that they can possibly become.
There are several regular season games remaining and these “practice outings” will help these teams emerge in time for sectional play.
Even though the play last Saturday wasn’t up to its usual level, it possessed a certain “big game” feel to it. Bridgeport is one of a few places where I have the luxury of broadcasting from right in the middle of the crowd. I’m surrounded by fans and I hear and feel all of the emotions of this rivalry. I can exchange popcorn and pleasantries all the while calling the action from a contest where the participants provided maximum effort from start to finish.
The next installment of this friendly feud will take place on February 18th in Clarksburg. The Tribe will have fifteen additional games under their belt and the Flying Eagles will have twelve lock-ups. That’s more than enough time for these combatants to have honed their skills for an even more competitive outing. Most teams attempt to round into form just before March and this date will be circled on calendars throughout North Central West Virginia. It will draw yet another large crowd and that tends to bring out the best in both teams.
The postseason feel is what coaches want to emulate so that they can gauge how their players will respond in this type of environment. After this ensuing epic clash, just enough time will remain to make last minute adjustments before the contests really count.
There is even more good news for fans that love to see great basketball. A third hook-up could be on the horizon as Bridgeport and Robert C. Byrd could meet again when the stakes are even higher.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!