By Shawn Stinson
FRANKLIN – It was one of those nights for the Pendleton County boys basketball team.
Dusty Smith connected on a last-second 3-point field goal at the end of the first quarter. Just before the halftime buzzer sounded, Braden McClanahan banked in a half-court shot to spark Pendleton to a 74-41 victory against East Hardy in the Class A Region II co-championship game March 9 in Franklin.
“I give a lot of the credit to the kids, they went out and played hard,” Pendleton coach Jeremy Bodkin said. “The coaching staff did a great job, we watched the film trying to figure out what happened with East Hardy at Tucker when they played, we tried not to let that happen to us. The kids went out and played, I can’t ask for any more than that.”
The win propelled Pendleton to its second consecutive trip to Charleston for the Class A state tournament. Pendleton qualified for a berth in the 2020 Class A state tournament but officials canceled the event due to the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
Pendleton earned the No. 6 seed and squared off with No. 3 Tucker in the opening contest of the tournament. The Mountain Lions swept the season series with the Wildcats. Tucker knocked off Pendleton 45-39 on Dec. 17 in Hambleton. The Mountain Lions claimed a 49-42 win on Feb. 8 in Franklin.”
Bodkin said he figured Pendleton would be one of the lower seeds in the state tournament despite sporting a 19-3 record.
“I thought we would be anywhere from 5 down, I didn’t think there was any chance to get into the top four,” Bodkin said. “I am just glad to be there. Glad the kids played well.”
“We will go do what we got to do.”
Haden Wamsley netted a team-high 14 points for Tucker in its initial victory against Pendleton. Levi Bennett chipped in with 11 points for the Mountain Lions. Tanner Townsend scored 14 points to pace Pendleton in the loss.
In the second matchup of the season, Maddox Anderson led the way in the victory with 11 points. Ashton Lycliter had 10 for Tucker. Townsend netted 11 and Clayton Kisamore had 10 for the Wildcats.
State Tournament Stuff To be added after game this morning
Three Pendleton players scored in double figures in the team’s victory against East Hardy. Tanner Townsend netted a team-leading 14 points for the Wildcats. Clayton Kisamore and McClanahan both added 13 points. Townsend grabbed six rebounds and McClanahan pulled down five. Jacob Beachler finished with eight points and eight rebounds in the victory. Beachler added five blocked shots.
Dawson Price had a game-high 19 points for the Cougars. Price was the lone East Hardy to reach double figures.
Pendleton jumped out to a 16-8 lead at the end of the first quarter thanks to Smith’s last-second heave. The Wildcats stretched their advantage to 37-18 at halftime. Pendleton pulled away for a 55-26 lead heading into the final quarter.
Bodkin thanked the Pendleton fans for providing a home-court advantage during the season. Pendleton posted a 9-1 record at home this season.
“They showed up and they’re still here,” Bodkin said. “It’s just amazing the fan base that Pendleton County has had. They had it for everything, they always had it. These fans come out and just support the team.”
Bodkin beamed soon after he and the players cut down the nets to celebrate another regional co-championship.
“It’s special. This isn’t about me, this is about the boys and that’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s about them and they have stepped up and played well. I have to give my coaching staff a lot of credit …
“This is special. This is nice.”