The Bottom Line
By Bill Nestor
The Bridgeport boys’ basketball team has steamrolled to an unblemished start to the season. This perfect beginning has encompassed over half of their schedule and it has catapulted them into the statewide conversation as one of the top squads that will compete for the Class AA title.
Heading into this campaign the Tribe was expected to produce bunches of wins as it returned the nucleus of last year’s edition that competed in Charleston last March. All-stater John Wilfong, Chase Robey, and Dante Bonamico (both received all-state consideration), and Donald Kummer all came back to reclaim their starting positions. The Lone void was the lack of a true “big man” and that issue went away with the arrival of East Fairmont transfer, Nick Greely. Bridgeport also owns a talented bench that is led by Hunter Haddix and Logan Smith.
The Indians were expected to start well then peak at tournament time. As a matter of fact, when I talked with Head Coach Mike Robey early on he discussed his concern about getting his lineup some court time together. Wilfong and Bonamico were busy putting the finishing touches on a football championship and they were trying to get their basketball legs back. Robey was working against the clock, trying to implement his entire game plan before the opener on December 18th against Liberty. The players have played well but make no mistake this impressive start would not have occurred without the efforts of Robey, who thrives under pressure. The lack of preparation time just motivated Robey to accelerate his efforts and his players responded.
What makes this undefeated run so impressive is the long list of talented teams that have been defeated. Mingo Central, RCB, Frankfort, and Class AAA powers, Morgantown and University have all lost to the Indians.
It’s not just what this group has accomplished but how it has been done that has been so impressive. Some teams when faced with the dilemma of not having their full compliment of players might have pulled a New England Patriot – and taken the air out of the ball. They would have gone with a more conservative game plan designed to slow down the game. Don’t try to push Robey into a corner because he will come out fighting or in this case scoring. His team is averaging a staggering 82 points per game prior to this week’s outings. They have scored 85 points or more five different times and those numbers could have been higher if Robey wanted them to be.
Even more impressive is that this team plays hard on both ends of the floor. The Tribe only allows 55 points per outing and they have held opponents to 50 points or fewer four times this season. It’s not just the fact that they are winning but how they are going about it that is turning heads all through the Mountain State. Morgantown (nine points) is the only game that wasn’t decided by double digits which shows the dominance that has accompanied each victory.
Last year Robert C. Byrd earned a perfect regular season, the Flying Eagles look to provide a test this Saturday as these cross-town rivals meet at One Eagle Way. Matchups that could also pose a possible threat to this streak are with Lincoln, at Preston County, and a pair of lock-ups with the Polar Bears of Fairmont Senior.
The Indians will take the rest of their schedule one game at a time and they won’t back down from any team, which is why they are in the position that they are right now – undefeated!
That will do it for now. Until next week…take care and God Bless!