By Stephen Smoot
“Our defense was where we’ve been trying to get them all year,” Coach Jeremy Bodkin said of Monday night’s winning effort on the part of his team. Pendleton County controlled the game early through suffocating defense, then held Petersburg off the rest of the night for a crucial win.
Petersburg came into the action Monday night with a record of 5-8, losing to mutual opponents such as Tygarts Valley, Frankfort, and Keyser. The Vikings had upended rival Moorefield, however.
Pendleton County controlled the tip and pretty much the entire action in the first quarter. Wildcat pressure knocked the Vikings off their game early. Chase Owens came up with two of the six steals taken by the Wildcats in that quarter as part of eight total turnovers by the Vikings.
The game opened with a Josiah Kimble three off an assist by Jacob Beachler. Then, only a minute and a half into the game, Owens swiped the ball at midcourt and drove in for a layup. After another turnover, Petersburg called time out at the 6:28 mark but could not slow down the Wildcats. Beachler and Clayton Kisamore both scored off of offensive rebounds with Kisamore’s shot putting his team up 12-0 with 4:42 left in the quarter. Dusty Smith then broke up a Petersburg fast break and shortly thereafter took a hard foul at the basket, converting a free throw to extend the lead to 19-3 with only 1:23 left in the quarter.
For much of the night, Pendleton County used light pressure to harass the Vikings in the backcourt, then used a suffocating half court trap to disrupt the offense.
Dustin Vandevander’s shooting helped to keep Petersburg at bay in the early minutes of the second quarter, hitting three three-point shots in the opening minute, the second one off an assist by Dillon Smith. The Wildcats remained relentless on defense. Evan Teter broke up a pass to the post to force a turnover at the 6:30 mark while Connor Armentrout ended a Viking fast break with a blocked shot almost a minute later.
Petersburg stayed within shouting distance of the Wildcats the entire night with opportune three-point shooting. Pendleton County, however, always had an answer to prevent Viking runs before they started. With 4:20 left in the second, Petersburg hit a three to close within 28-17. Immediately after, Owens answered with a three. Kimble followed Owens with a baseline drive ending in a pull up six-foot shot and a subsequent three-pointer to push the lead out to 36-17.
While Beachler did not rack up as many blocks, his presence had an effect. He disrupted shots near the basket all night and, along with Kisamore, punished Petersburg with relentless offensive rebounding to keep plays alive. Kisamore also had multiple effortless looking drives past Petersburg defenders for easy shots near the basket. One drive at the 50 second mark saw him leave four defenders in his wake as he put his team up 38-20.
The second half opened with Owens finding Dusty Smith open for a layup only 35 seconds in. Petersburg tried to foil Pendleton County with a full court press for a time, but could not slow down the Wildcats. Kimble hit a three-pointer off of a Brayden Beachler assist to give his team a 43-24 lead. Brayden Beachler hit a three of his own from the right corner shortly thereafter at the 3:43 mark.
Coach Bodkin over the past few weeks has worked to extend his bench. He said it’s “very important to have everyone available to us who is available.” Bodkin added that “we’re finally getting healthy. It’s a lot of fun right now.” Having a deep bench and a healthy squad is pivotal as the post season approaches.
Petersburg continued to make three-pointers to keep their hopes alive. In the last three minutes of the third quarter, they used long range shooting to go on a 13-5 run. They also used a 2-2-1 zone full court press to slow down the Wildcat offense as they closed to 53-37 with 50 seconds left, but a Kisamore three with 27 seconds put the lead back out to 19 to end the quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the Wildcats continued to make big plays to put the Vikings away. Owens scored a layup while taking a hard foul at the 6:11 mark, followed by a beautiful Kisamore drive punctuated by a graceful finger roll. Dusty Smith then hit a three to extend the lead to 63-40. Jacob Beachler blocked a shot at 4:32, then a minute later wrestled away an offensive rebound to score a layup. Thirty seconds later, he took an inbound pass for an alley-oop that built the lead to 67-42.
Scoring closed when Dillon Smith took a foul that sent him to the line. His free throw set the final score at 67-50.
Scoring: Owens 12, Kisamore 11, Kimble 11, Jacob Beachler 10, Vandevander 10, Dusty Smith 6, Dillon Smith 5, Brayden Beachler 3
In other action, Kimble had a huge night last week as the Wildcats also defeated Tygarts Valley on the road 53-43.
Scoring: Kimble 23, Kisamore 15, Owens 6, Brayden Beachler 3, Dusty Smith 2, Vandevander 2, Jacob Beachler 2
The Wildcats travel to East Hardy today and will host Moorefield on Saturday.
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