Indians lose to Bluefield, 69-38
Bluefield scored off the opening tip and never looked back on their way to a lopsided, 69-38, victory over Berkeley Springs in the first round of the West Virginia Class AA Boys State High School Basketball Tournament at the Charleston Civic Center, in Charleston, on March 14.
"To be honest with you, they (Bluefield) were who we thought they were," said Indian Coach Jeremy Horvat. “They were quick and athletic. They hit the boards and really pushed the ball up the court. I do think we had some nerves. You could just tell that we were tight, which is not to take anything away from Bluefield, because they are an excellent basketball team and earned the win."
Bluefield scored the first two buckets of the game before Zach Wise knocked down a three-pointer to pull the Tribe to within one of their southern foe. But, that was as close as the Tribe would come as Bluefield's high flying offense, and stingy defense, took control of the game.
Leading 4-3, the Beavers went on a 19-7 run over the remainder of the quarter to take a 23-10 lead.
The Indians got points from five different players, Kaleb Athey, Michael Kearney, Richard Recio, Kyle Appel and Jared Spielman, in the second eight-minute frame, but Bluefield ended the quarter on an 8-2 run that extended their lead to 19 points, 40-21, at the intermission.
The Beavers took advantage of 14 Berkeley Springs turnovers and continually beat the Indians in transition to build the comfortable halftime advantage.
"We settled down and kept within range for much of the second quarter," Horvat said. “We actually had a couple of very good opportunities to cut the lead, but couldn't convert. We kind of withstood their early punch and had some good scoring opportunities, but once they went on that run at the end of the half it kind of hurt. They were very good in transition and we knew that, but it is hard to duplicate their athleticism in practice."
The Indians hoped to turn things around coming out of the locker room, but Bluefield scored the first four points of the second half and used their speed and athleticism to convert several easy baskets and build their lead to 56-31 heading into the final eight minutes of regulation.
Bluefield kept their foot on the accelerator and built a lead of 34 points, before cruising to the opening-round victory.
Appel and Wise led the Indians with nine and eight points, respectively. Recio added six points and a team-high eight rebounds, Derrick Cowles and Brady Spielman scored four points four each, Kearney added three points, while Athey and Jared Spielman, who had six assists, rounded out the offense with two points each.
Anthony Eades led Bluefield with 21 points.
"For us to finish over .500 and make the tournament was very rewarding," said Horvat. “All-in-all, it was a successful season and I am really happy for the kids."
Berkeley Springs ended the year 14-12.
Bluefield reached the Class AA final, but fell to Tug Valley in the championship game, 58-52.