The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
This basketball season has once again afforded me the opportunity to broadcast several high school games on the radio. I’ve seen some exceptional teams and called some close contests however, this past Friday topped all of the others.
It wasn’t just the level of play that was impressive even though both teams brought their “A” games. It was the stage that it was on that appeared to draw the desire from these squads and the fact that these squads are cross-town rivals might have had a little something to do with that.
Robert C. Byrd and Bridgeport had already met twice during the regular season with each winning on their home court. The first was early in the season in “Tribe Territory” that was dubbed a defensive struggle. The second was not as contested with the Flying Eagles jumping out to a sizable lead early on in Clarksburg.
The rubber match took place in Bridgeport with an added boost of excitement. There was to be 1,000 tickets sold for this lock-up and the doors would open at 5:30. A long line filled with fans and their high hopes led to a long wait prior to tip off. The pregame music was loud and by game time the capacity crowd was more than ready for some hoops.
The first half was like a heavyweight title fight, the Indians took the opening quarter by one point and Robert C. Byrd claimed the second segment the same way, leading up to the fourth tie of the half heading into intermission. There were seven lead changes in the first half with the largest lead going to Bridgeport (six points in the opening frame).
The third quarter brought an early Indian lead only to have Dante Speas close the segment strong for the visitors providing them with a four point spread heading into the final period. Speas led the Flying Eagles in scoring (21 points all coming in the first three quarters of play).
The Flying Eagles held the lead until the end where Logan Smith nailed a three pointer to put the Indians on top for good. Most people anticipated the shot going to Nick Greely; Greely scored a game high 26 points in the win.
It was a game where the play on the floor lived up to the hype heading into what might not be the last meeting of the year for these teams. Both teams have the opportunity to win and get into the state tournament where a fourth round could be played between these “AA” powers.
In Morgantown, the Mountaineers are celebrating a second place finish in the Big 12 regular season. After suffering back to back losses to Texas and Oklahoma in mid February, the Mounties went on a four game win streak to close out the regular season. They clinched the two seed in the tournament with an impressive road win at Baylor. It also keeps them away from Kansas until the championship game. WVU is playing for not only their first Big 12 Tournament Championship, they are also auditioning for a higher seed in the NCAA Tournament.
The Mountaineers punched their ticket to the “Big Dance” long ago but the higher the seed, the closer to home they could be and we all know how well WVU fans travel. It would provide a big boost to an already dangerous team.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!