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Boys basketball: Fisher, scrappy Winfield fight way past Beckley

By Nick Brockman

WINFIELD, W.Va. -- Hitting a shot, grabbing a rebound, or creating a turnover, winning takes many forms, and during a paltry offensive showing, the Winfield boys basketball team found a way against Beckley on Thursday night.

Tied with less than four minutes to play, the Generals fought, scrapped and manufactured any possible way to create the right equation to earn the program's first-ever win against Beckley, 48-44.

"For us, we've had so many close ones, but we haven't finished," Winfield Coach Pat McGinnis said of the team's 5-4 record entering Thursday.

"We have a sign on our door as you go out the door in the locker room that says 'Find A Way,'" McGinnis said, "and I told them we just haven't been finding a way to win. We've been close, but we just have not found a way. Tonight, we found a way."

At halftime, Winfield led 17-14, but it didn't appear either team was ready to find a way. The two squads combined to shoot 11-of-51 from the field in the first half.

"It was a low-scoring game," Winfield senior Brock Pence said.

"It was slow the first half, but it picked up. Our intangibles are always there: our defense, our hustle, our rebounding, but we let the offense come to us. That's what's important to our team, defense, so we try to hustle every play."

Then, the offense finally came when the Generals produced a 9-0 run to lead by 28-17 late in the third quarter.

Beckley refused to back down though and responded with its own 14-0 run to take its first lead of the game.

Instead of cowering before the storied Flying Eagles program, Winfield stepped forward.

Taylor Hearn hit a runner followed by back-to-back baskets in the paint from Pence and the Generals turned a tie ballgame into a 6-point lead with 2:11 remaining.

Later in the fourth quarter, Pence hit another bucket to extend the lead to seven. Beckley reeled off four points to make it a one-possession game, and then created a steal with 35 seconds left.

Pence stepped up again to tip a loose ball ahead to Hearn for an uncontested layup. Colton Schoolcraft sank two free throws with 14 seconds to go that all but sealed the contest.

Flying Eagles guard Andrew Johnson hit a 3-pointer with 9 seconds remaining to pull within four, but Beckley drew no closer, eventually losing 48-44.

"We've got so much respect for Beckley," McGinnis said. "That's the program you want to aspire to be like."

For Winfield, in its first year with the Mountain State Athletic Conference, nothing comes easy. It's all about finding a way. The Generals entered with each of the team's four losses by eight or fewer points.

"It was all about team," McGinnis said of Thursday's contest. "They played as a team. One guy doesn't carry us. It was a group effort."

Junior guard Zach Fisher acknowledged the big win and admitted its significance to Winfield.

"It means a lot," he said. "We've been working hard and we've been so close so many tough games. It feels good to win one and get back on the right track."

Fisher led Winfield with 13 points on 5-of-11 shooting, while Pence finished with eight points, five rebounds and two blocked shots.

For Beckley, junior Donte Nabors paced the squad with 16 points, while Johnson posted 13.

McGinnis might hope for a prettier winning formula next game, but with a team motto like "Find A Way," it's hard to fault the Generals in any victory.

Winfield next plays 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Parkersburg, while Beckley returns to action at Cabell Midland 7:30 p.m. Saturday.


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