By Shawn Stinson
CHARLESTON – Pendleton County fans hoped the adage of “it is difficult to beat a good team three times in a season” would prove to be accurate when Pendleton and Tucker squared off in the opening game of the Class A State Tournament.
Unfortunately, the Mountain Lions were able to claim their third victory against the Wildcats, posting a 59-45 win on March 15 at the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center in Charleston.
Pendleton ended its season with a 19-4 record. Pendleton dropped all three contests to Tucker by an average of nine points. Tucker lost to Greater Beckley Christian in the semifinals.
James Monroe claimed the Class A championship with a 72-47 victory against Greater Beckley Christian. The Mavericks finished the season with a 28-0 record. During the season, the Crusaders knocked off the Mavericks in one of the teams’ regular season matchups but were forced to forfeit the game due to the use of ineligible players.
The Mountain Lions raced out to a 13-10 lead at the end of the first quarter. They extended the margin to 25-17 in the second quarter before the Wildcats stormed back to knot the game at 25 at halftime. Clayton Kisamore scored six of Pendleton’s eight points in the 8-0 run.
Following the halftime break, Tucker began to pull away from Pendleton. The Mountain Lions connected on 6 of 13 field goals in the third quarter, including 2 of 3 from beyond the 3-point line. The Wildcats, on the other hand, struggled to find the net, hitting 4 of 14 from the field and missing all four attempts from the 3-point line.
“That’s just the Civic Center, it’s tough to score down here,” Pendleton coach Jeremy Bodkin said. “[Haden Wamsley] hit a couple threes and that basically put the dagger in us.”
An old-fashion three-point play by Kisamore gave Pendleton its final lead of the contest at 30-29 with 5:23 remaining in the third quarter.
Pendleton’s offensive woes stretched into the fourth quarter, while Tucker continued to scorch the nets. The Wildcats connected on 4 of 17 shots from the field in the period and were 2 of 8 from the 3-point line. Tucker hit 5 of 7 from the field and all three of its 3-point attempts in the quarter.
“We tried to force too many shots and didn’t run our offense at times,” Bodkin said. “I’m not going to be upset with that because we were trying.”
Kisamore finished with a team-high 15 points for the Wildcats. Cole Day was the only other Pendleton player to reach double figures, scoring 10. Jacob Beachler netted nine points, grabbed eight rebounds and seven blocks.
Pendleton hit 19 of 56, 33.9%, of its field goals attempts and was 2 of 14, 14.3%, from the 3-point line in the contest. Tucker connected on 20 of 46, 43.5%, of its field goal attempts and was 6 of 11, 54.5%, from the 3-point line in the game. The Mountain Lions outrebounded the Wildcats 40-29.
“We rebounded the ball and shot much better in the second half,” Tucker coach Daniel Helmick said. “I know we are going to play good defense because we’ve guarded well all year.”
Wamsley finished with a game-high 17 points and hit three from beyond the 3-point line. Owen Knotts added 12 points and 10 rebounds for Tucker in the victory.