By Stephen Smoot
The Warriors of Pocahontas County sallied forth to engage the Pendleton County Wildcats last week, only to find the home team the better battlers.
Since the Moorefield game, Coach Jeremy Bodkin has worked on his team’s approach to games. He explained that “we are still developing patience. It will be an ever-evolving process.” Bodkin added, “After the Moorefield loss, we had to make sure that two losses don’t turn to three.”
Additionally, Clayton Kisamore, who played more outside in the opening games of the season, has made his presence felt in recent weeks at the power forward position. His quick post moves and athleticism down under combined with his court vision and ballhandling make the Wildcats even more formidable, as Union and Pocahontas County witnessed over the past two weeks.
At the outset of the game, Pendleton County worked to establish themselves inside. Wildcat guards delivered entry passes to an active Jacob Beachler, who also snagged three offensive rebounds in the first 30 seconds of play.
Pendleton County established dominance in rebounding at both ends of the floor. Chase Owens put the Wildcats on the board first, grabbing an offensive rebound and scoring a layup 35 seconds into the first quarter. Kisamore made a short bucket off a rebound at the 6:41 mark to put his team up 4-0.
Establishing strength inside opens outside shooters when defenses collapse to prevent short range baskets. The Wildcats took advantage when Pocahontas County tried to stop the inside game. For example, Kisamore received an entry pass, then kicked it back to an open Owens for a 17-footer with just over six minutes left.
The Wildcats used crisp passing and quick decision-making to find open shooters and keep the defense on their heels. A Dusty Smith steal led to an entry pass to Kisamore who dished the ball to a streaking Beachler. He made a quick move and scored the layup with five minutes in the quarter. Beachler shortly thereafter swatted a Warrior shot, one of many blocks for him on the night.
The lead grew quickly, hitting 15-1 about midway through the quarter. Even as Coach Bodkin halted the smothering Wildcat press, Pocahontas County still struggled to score. The Wildcats stuck to their inside-out game plan even as they substituted. With the quarter winding down, Evan Teter took a Dillon Smith entry pass quickly to the hole, drawing a foul. Teter made one of two, putting his team up 17-3. Scoring in the quarter closed in dramatic style as Josiah Kimble sliced his way to the basket for a layup that fell only a second before the buzzer.
Second quarter action opened with a Brayden Beachler steal that opened a fast break. Dusty Smith received a pass on the post, but quickly whipped the ball back outside to a waiting Dustin Vandevander. He then buried a three-pointer that extended the lead to 28-7.
Pocahontas County struggled to get into their offensive sets until almost the end of the game. Even without the press, shooters hoisted shots from outside as soon as they found themselves open with little positive effect. Meanwhile, the Wildcats stuck to their game plan to build a lead that hit 43-9 at the half.
Teter continued to make plays in the second quarter. At the 1:47 mark, he used a move to slide from the left to right post, executing a graceful reverse layup to complete the play. Then he ended the half by coming up with a steal. Scoring in the half ended with Kisamore driving to the basket, executing a Eurostep move to avoid the defender, then laying the ball in with 10 seconds to go.
The third quarter saw Pendleton County increasingly rely on cutters to get shots close to the basket. At the 6:30 mark, Kisamore pushed the ball ahead to Dusty Smith, who found a cutting Owens. Owens scored the layup, drew the foul, then completed the old fashioned three-point play from the foul line. Meanwhile, Brayden Beachler continued to harangue the Warriors as he disrupted play after play with steals and defensive intensity.
Despite the big lead and constant substitutions, the Wildcats never dropped their intensity. With 3:22 left in the third, Zykijah Wright fought for a rebound and scored to extend the lead to 64-14. Not long after, Dillon Smith dove out of bounds, successfully slinging the ball off a Warrior player to keep possession.
The Wildcats continued to claw the Warriors in the fourth quarter. In an incredible sequence with 4:26 to play, Wright was fouled in the act of shooting. He made the first, missed the second, rebounded the miss, and sank a three-pointer from near the top of the key. This extended the lead to 71-22. Cashton Kisamore shortly after took a Kimble entry pass, executed a drop step, and laid the ball in the hoop.
With 2:14 left, once again the hustle of Wright led to a great play. He tracked down a rebound in the corner, fired a quick pass to Dillon Smith. Smith immediately located Brayden Beachler camping alone just under the basket. Beachler laid the ball up for yet another Pendleton County score near the basket. Wildcat players toward the end of the game passed up easy fast break points in favor of running their offense to find baskets.
Pendleton County scoring closed for the night with a Kimble three-pointer followed immediately by a three from Brayden Beachler. After these shots, the Wildcats executed a near textbook “Dean Smith” four corners offense to run the clock out.
The Wildcats host Harman High School tomorrow night. Exactly one month prior, Harman eked out a 36-35 win over mutual opponent Union.
Scoring: Clayton Kisamore 19, Kimble 13, Owens 13, Jacob Beachler 12, Zykijah Wright 8, Brayden Beachler 7, Teter 7, Vandevander 3, Dillon Smith 2, Cashton Kisamore 2.