CHARLESTON – Poca responded Friday from its near quarterfinal exit with a dominant Class AA boys basketball semifinal win over No. 4 Wyoming East 85-55.
“I thought the first half we really played well and our defense was outstanding,” said Poca coach Allen Osborne. “We got back, kept them off of the boards and really took care of the ball – those were the three things that we wanted to do. We only had 10 turnovers for the game against their pressure, which I thought was very, very important.”
The Dots (25-2) struggled all-around in Wednesday’s 30-28 quarterfinal win over No. 8 Chapmanville, but regained their form on Friday.
“We just wanted to get off to a good start and establish ourselves early,” Osborne said. “I thought we ran our offense much better today, got better looks at the bucket. We got a chance to play and our kids had fun today.”
Poca scored 33 points in the second quarter on Friday, finishing the game 31 of 67 from the floor (46 percent).
“Wednesday’s game is gone and forgotten,” Osborne said. “We just take it one game at a time and try to play it. But we really played well on both ends of the court in that second quarter.”
Poca led 46-14 at the half behind Luke Frampton’s 17 points.
“We were just trying to take care of the ball and get good shots,” Frampton said. “We were trying to get to the rim, but our starts started falling from the outside. When one person starts hitting them, we all start hitting them.”
Frampton finished with 24 points on 9 of 18 shooting, Elijah Cuffee scored 20 points with 18 rebounds and Kaden Meeks added 17 points for the Dots.
“I was just there for my teammates,” Cuffee said. “I was just playing.”
R.J. Foldon scored 14 points to lead Wyoming East (20-5) in the loss.
“These guys have been great all season,” said Warriors’ coach Rory Chapman. “We had a 20-win season, a lot of success this year and a lot more ups than downs. This one doesn’t feel very good, but I’m proud of these guys and they’ll fight any time for me.”
Poca will play for its second straight Class AA championship on Saturday at noon against No. 3 Fairmont Senior – a rematch of last year’s title game.
“Fairmont is very, very good and they beat a really good Bridgeport team today,” Osborne said. “But we’re excited to play and I’m sure they’re excited too. It’s going to be a great game, hopefully.”
The two teams also met once early this year, a 60-53 win for the Dots.
“They’re a good team,” Frampton said of the Polar Bears. “They get up and down the court, they play tough defense and it’s going to be a good game. We match up with them well and it should be fun.”
CHARLESTON – A held-ball scrum led to a technical on Bridgeport’s Logan Smith and sent Fairmont Senior to the line for the go-ahead free throw and a 48-47 win at the Class AA state semifinals Friday.
Tied at 47 with 28.6 seconds left, the technical foul was assessed on Smith after a jump-ball was called near midcourt. Fairmont Senior’s Darhius Nunn made one of two shots.
“Zyon Dobbs tried to steal the ball,” an emotional Smith said after the loss. “I ripped through like I was supposed to, Zyon fell and I don’t really know how that’s a technical, but he T’d me up.”
The crucial technical helped Fairmont Senior (22-5) reach the state final for the a second straight year and left Bridgeport (23-3) devastated.
“A couple of things happened at the end of the game that I, personally, have never seen before. I can’t explain it, but I guess we did it to ourselves,” said Bridgeport coach Mike Robey. “The explanation I got on the technical was that Logan made contact with (Dobbs) after (the official) called the jump ball. I’m not blaming that because we had a ton of chances to score. Maybe it’s my fault, though, because we teach our kids to rip the ball. I don’t know.”
Bridgeport had its chances thanks to Smith making a steal on the ensuing inbounds with 25.4 seconds to play.
Bridgeport twice tried to set up a play, taking timeouts with 11 seconds left and again with 4 seconds remaining, after which Nunn swiped the ball from Nick Greely to secure the Polar Bears return to the Class AA state final.
“I’m really proud of how we finished the game,” said Fairmont Senior coach David Retton. “We’ve had opportunities at various points of the season where we felt that we didn’t close out things like we wanted to. This morning, we closed it out and that’s a great feeling.”
Nunn finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists and six steals.
Huntington St. Joe 70,
CHARLESTON – For the second night in a row, St. Joseph Central erased a fourth quarter deficit to knock off a higher seed, this time it was defending state champion and No. 1 Magnolia, 70-62.
“We most definitely came in as the underdogs,” said St. Joe standout Keith Clemons. “Most people didn’t even think we would get here, being the No. 5 seed playing the No. 1 seed. But we all talked about it. Being the underdog is alright, as long as we get the job done.”
The Irish (21-6) erased an eight point fourth quarter deficit the night before in a quarterfinal matchup against Notre Dame. Friday’s win over the Blue Eagles (22-3) put St. Joe into Saturday’s Class A state title game.
St. Joe ended both games with 9-0 runs over the final two minutes.
“It’s two in a row (of late comebacks), but I wouldn’t want to make a living doing that,” said St. Joe coach Ross Scaggs. “But they’re confident in themselves and we say all the time that if you can’t play the game when you’re down 5-7 points, then you’re not going to go very far. You have to be able to keep your head, keep focused and believe in one another.”
Clemons led the Irish with 24 points on the night, but it was John Morrison who sparked St. Joe off of the bench with 17 points on 7 of 9 shooting.
Parkersburg South 52
CHARLESTON – Two-time defending Class AAA state champion Huntington will play for its third straight boys basketball title after beating No. 6 Parkersburg South 66-52 on Friday night.
No. 2 Huntington (25-1) led 30-22 at the half and built on that for a 46-31 advantage heading into the fourth.
It was No. 6 Parkersburg South (19-8), though, which started the game with an 8-1 lead, but saw the Highlanders quickly go on a 16-0 run to take control.
Tavian Dunn-Martin hit three 3s in that 16-0 stretch as he finished with 19 points on 7 of 18 shooting for the Highlanders.
“We just had to calm down and play basketball,” Dunn-Martin said. “I knew our shots were going to fall eventually, we just to keep getting defensive stops and put the ball in the bucket.”
J.R. Howard, meanwhile, scored 21 points overall, including 14 straight points for Huntington during a stretch in the second half. The Highlanders led by 19, 52-33, with 5:24 to go.
Woodrow Wilson 50
CHARLESTON – Morgantown shot 54 percent from the floor and outlasted No. 4 Woodrow Wilson, 54-50, advancing into the Class AAA boys basketball state championship game.
Morgantown (26-0), which typically plays man defense, used a zone against the Flying Eagles on Friday night.
“They love to get to the rim, be aggressive and hit the offensive glass,” said Morgantown coach Dave Tallman. “We just thought we could slow them down (with the zone) and our zone is a little bit different, we’ll come out and pressure a little bit with our guards. It worked.”
The Mohigans led 21-14 after the first quarter, hitting 9 of their first 13 shots, but Woodrow Wilson (24-3) controlled the second quarter to take a 33-29 lead at the break.
Steven Solomon led Morgantown with 18 points, driving to the hoop throughout the game – all while battling foul trouble.
Nicky Solomon added 14 points.