By Stephen Smoot
One night after taking down Moorefield, Pendleton County faced another very familiar South Branch Valley foe in Petersburg.
A standing room only crowd greeted the teams as they took the floor. Petersburg brought an athletic and experienced squad to compete against the team that took out their least loved rival in Moorefield.
The Vikings took the tip and the opening score, drawing a foul on a layup. After making the free throw, they led 3-0. Quickly after, Cashton Kisamore fired a pass out to Wyatt Franklin who scored the first points for the Wildcats, a three-point shot. A Petersburg layup edged them ahead until two Chase Owens free throws tied it again.
With 3:20 left, Owens fired a pass to Kisamore, who executed a post move to score and put his team up 11-10. Pendleton County fouls led to three made free throws by their opponents by the end of the quarter, returning them to the lead, 13-11.
Just as he had the night before, Zykijah Wright showed himself a force underneath, gaining position and fighting for rebound after rebound.
Petersburg opened the second quarter with a three-point shot, providing a 16-11 lead. Josiah Kimble, only 30 seconds into the quarter, cut it to two with his own three-point shot.
At the 6:47 point, a Petersburg player experienced an apparent serious injury and had to be taken from the floor by paramedics. The teams returned to their locker rooms for the duration and play did not resume for nearly 25 minutes.
The Vikings returned to the floor with their emotions channeled, stealing the ball and scoring on the Wildcats, but Pendleton County matched their energy. Henry Warner buried a three to bring the Wildcats to within three points, but the Vikings matched with a three of their own at the 4:59 mark.
Pendleton County clawed into the lead with a little more than a minute in the half. Kimble scored a layup, followed by a three-pointer with 27 seconds left to push the lead to 27-23. Petersburg tried a play at the end, but Wright broke it up.
Just as against Moorefield, the Wildcats came out of the locker room with energy and focus. Owens immediately blocked a shot on the post and in the first 30 seconds, Franklin hit a three to give his team their largest lead of the night at 30-23.
The Vikings hit two free throws at the 6:25 mark, but Wright restored the seven-point lead with 4:45 left in the quarter. The Vikings followed that with an eight to nothing run that gave them a 34-31 lead, which a subsequent Kisamore post move and layup sliced the lead to one.
The teams continued to battle to the end of the third. With seven seconds left, a Franklin layup off a Kimble pass knotted the game at 41, but a last second jump shot by Petersburg gave them back the lead.
Petersburg then did what experienced and talented teams do at home. They took the game in hand. The Vikings ended the game with a 14 to two run. Pendleton County expended no less effort, made no real mistakes save one player being out of position a single time on defense.
Viking shooters simply got hot, even, seemingly especially, with Wildcat hands in their faces.
Midway through the run, Pendleton County called timeout, but had to endure the blaring of an old rock song about victorious Viking warriors finding their way to heaven as they tried to meet the challenge.
The final score was 57-43, with the teams closer in ability than indicated. Franklin scored 13 points to lead the Wildcats, followed by Kimble with 11, and Owens with 10. Kisamore had four points, Warner three, and Wright two.