By Stephen Smoot
Much like the girls team the night before, the Pendleton County boys team sought to make a statement against one of their biggest rivals. After a short sputtering start, the Wildcats settled in and patiently handled the same Moorefield squad that defeated Pendleton County earlier in the season.
Coach Jeremy Bodkin praised his team, saying “they played well tonight,” especially after a tough loss at East Hardy.
Pendleton County controlled the opening tip, but a Moorefield steal and three-point shot put them up early. The Yellow Jackets used an energetic defense to stymie the Wildcat offense while hitting the few open shots allowed by the defense. They slowly built a lead that topped out at 12-4 with 1:07 left in the first, but also racked up fouls with their aggressive defense.
Meanwhile, Jacob Beachler demonstrated why he is emerging as a force on this team. He scored at the 4:11 mark, but also drew many of the Yellow Jacket fouls in the quarter. Beachler’s presence in the middle disrupted many of the short range shot attempts that he couldn’t block. Throughout the game, Moorefield struggled to complete shots close to the basket.
At the end of the first quarter, Beachler stole the ball and found Josiah Kimble for a buzzer beating three-pointer that helped his team close to within four.
Even though the Wildcats found scoring difficult at first, they attacked Moorefield’s offense relentlessly. Coach Bodkin described it as “squeezing the life out of them,” saying “we just got back to the business of learning how to guard people.”
Then Clayton Kisamore showed one reason why he was named the Charlie Obaugh RV and Outdoor Center and WHSV Student Athlete of the week. With just a minute gone in the second quarter, he drove coast to coast, scored a layup, and helped his team close to a two-point deficit. A minute after that, a Kisamore shot tied the game at 12. Later, he stole the ball and drove in for another layup to put his team up 22-14.
Pendleton County used a suffocating man-to-man full court press, sometimes also using traps to frustrate the Yellow Jackets. Turnovers and other errors forced by the Wildcats led to easy baskets. The Wildcats also rebounded well. Beachler drew a foul on an offensive rebound with five seconds left, converting a free throw to set the halftime score at 24-15.
In the previous matchup, Moorefield came back, took the lead, and won when in the second half they spread the floor. In that game, they broke down Pendleton County defenders off the dribble to first get shots close to the basket and afterward kicking the ball back out for open threes. They tried the same tactic to open the third here as well, but this time the Wildcats were ready.
Beachler opened scoring with a deep two-point shot, following that effort with a blocked shot. After a Kimble three, Chase Owens drove the baseline, missed one shot, but grabbed the rebound, scored a layup, and drew a foul. Beachler then did the same at the 4:46 mark, extending the lead to 36-15. Almost a minute later, he scored inside, drew a foul on the shot, and converted the old fashioned three-point play to give his team a 45-22 lead.
An Owens’ layup with 31 seconds left ended scoring in the third quarter. His squad mastered Moorefield in the quarter, rocketing ahead on a 21-7 advantage in the third. At one point, the Wildcats earned a 17-2 run to blow the game seemingly wide open.
Moorefield’s potentially explosive offense, however, mandated that the Wildcats continue to exert the highest effort on both sides of the court. In the fourth quarter, the withering full court press kept the door slammed shut on any Yellow Jacket chances. Owens’ tenacity continually forced Moorefield into mistakes. He also scored a layup with 6:21 left off of a Brayden Beachler assist, then scored again 10 seconds later to give his team a 49-24 lead.
Dusty Smith followed that with a mid-range jumper on an assist from Evan Teter. Dustin Vandevander teamed with Owens to take the ball at the 4:02 mark, then hit his own deep three-point shot to give Pendleton County a 57-27 advantage. The two teams each scored another basket to leave the final at 59-29.
Last night, Pendleton County hosted the Keyser Golden Tornado. They return to action on Saturday in Petersburg.