The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
One should never underestimate the importance of the bounce of the ball. It dictates which team receives the break or breaks that in most cases determine the outcome of a highly contested game. As the basketball season moves forward and eventually heads into the postseason, the stakes and competition increase. The margin of error decreases and in some matchups just one key play could determine the victor. Now, that one play could range from a turnover, missed shot, not having the possession arrow on a tie up, to a foul that was better committed, or quite simply not called.
In a game that is played at the highest level, for example a state tournament tilt, where the best teams in West Virginia compete for the crown, one play could be the difference maker.
This past week Notre Dame, Bridgeport, and Robert C. Byrd competed in the Boys State Basketball tournament in the state’s capital. We’re going to take a look back at their games and how they went down with the boys’ scores and my point of view mixed in. Sometimes the box scores don’t tell the entire story so I will interject my point of view to provide some much needed clarification. Just a warning before we begin, I am a little biased because the three above-mentioned teams are from our community and I know how hard they worked to get to the Big Dance.
On Wednesday, Notre Dame lost a heartbreaker to Magnolia 49-48. The Fighting Irish held a 13 point lead with 3:49 left in the game. Needless to say, the ball didn’t bounce Notre Dame’s way for the remainder of the game and the whistle didn’t go in their favor either. Foul shots wouldn’t fall down the stretch and everything that could go wrong did. It was billed as a battle of two of the state’s best guards as Jarrod West locked up with the Blue Eagle’s Preston Boswell.
Boswell was impressive but West and his play were stellar. Boswell scored 25 points but was only 5 of 15 from the floor. He received more protection than the president, collecting 12 of 14 from the charity stripe. The game tightened up and West picked up four fouls in the fourth quarter. This forced West to lay off of Boswell and he then found room to get off a game winning three pointer.
West ended the game with 22 points, 5 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals. Noah Bohanna added 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 3 blocks. The Fighting Irish finished with a 17-8 mark.
On Thursday, Bridgeport claimed a 70-56 win over Bluefield. Nick Greely (24 points), Chase Robey (13 points), Hunter Haddix (11 points), John Wilfong (9 points and 11 rebounds), and Donald Kummer (9 assists and 3 steals) led the Indians.
Thursday’s last lockup was a see-saw affair as Westside edged Robert C. Byrd 58-57. The Flying Eagles forced 22 turnovers but could not overcome the foul line, where they were damaged the most. Robert C. Byrd was 3 of 12 while Westside was 19 of 25. The 19th was the difference maker as it came after a very odd sequence of events. With seconds remaining, the Flying Eagles collected a defensive rebound and a bang-bang play led to the loss of the round ball and a foul call with 1.5 seconds remaining. A no-call followed by a questionable foul call led to the end of a season. The nice way to say it is that the breaks didn’t go their way; so I will leave it at that. Robert C. Byrd was led by Devonti Birch (21 points and 4 steals), Luke Dyer (18 points, 6 rebounds, and 4assists), and Justin Noble (11 points and 6 rebounds). The Flying Eagles finished the year with a 16-7 record.
On Friday, Fairmont Senior defeated Bridgeport 80-56. The Indians ran into arguably the hottest team in the entire tournament to that point. The Polar Bears scored double digits in all four quarters and put 47 points on the board in the third and fourth quarter combined.
Bridgeport suffered through that one game that every team has, at the most inappropriate time. They started the year 19-0 and appeared to be ready to make a run for a title.
Greely (29 points, 10 rebounds, and 3 blocks), Wilfong (9 points, 3 assists, and 2 steals) and Robey (5 points and 8 rebounds) led the Tribe. Bridgeport ended the season with a 23-3 mark.
All three squads had fantastic seasons but fans can’t help but wonder about what could have been. Unfortunately, that is the way the ball bounces but the good news is that come mid November – it will start bouncing again.
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!