State Tournament: Redskins put up fight, fall
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Beckley built a double-digit lead against state tournament newcomer Hurricane on five occasions in the second half of their Class AAA quarterfinal Wednesday, and each time the Redskins came charging back.
Until Beckley junior guard Donte Nabors hit an open 3-pointer from the corner to turn back Hurricane's best run at the lead in the second half with 2:30 remaining, that is.
From there, the Flying Eagles made their free throws down the stretch and secured a 63-54 win that was the school's 68th in state tournament history.
"Drew (Johnson) drove to the basket and luckily I was wide open," said Nabors, who finished with 15 points though he struggled from the field, making just 5-of-21 shots.
"He kicked it out to me and I hit the shot."
After playing to a 32-32 tie through the first half, second-seeded Beckley (22-4) gained some breathing room in the third quarter by going on an 8-0 run led by Johnson, the team's lone senior and point guard.
Johnson opened the half with a 3-pointer, then put in a layup as No. 7 seed Hurricane (20-6) struggled to get its feet on the ground coming out of the locker room.
Though Beckley junior forward Chase Hancock had been saddled with a pair of fouls late in the second half, Coach Ron Kidd said his return to action in the second half fueled the Flying Eagles' run.
"We come out in the third quarter and I think we score nine quick points because of his defense," Kidd said. "We kind of need to keep him on the floor as much as possible because he just generates enthusiasm on both ends of the floor."
Hancock fouled out late in the game, but finished with 13 points and seven rebounds in just 18 total minutes.
Redskins Coach Lance Sutherland said he was not surprised by the turn of events that put Beckley ahead 45-34 before Henry Sorsaia sank the team's first field goal of the half with 1:49 left in the third.
"That's been one of our downfalls this year. It was the same thing when we played South Charleston back at Hurricane," Sutherland said, referring to the Redskins' 59-52 loss to the third-seeded Black Eagles on Jan. 18.
Hurricane was held to five points in the third quarter of that game after the teams were tied 30-30 at halftime.
"The third quarter has not been our best quarter all year. But then again it was one of those things. We fought through it, we battled back. It's been the way we've been all year. We were used to it, and it didn't phase us.
"We were there in the end."
For that, the Redskins can thank Trey Dawson. The sophomore guard hit consecutive 3-pointers early in the fourth that sparked a 9-0 run after Johnson had started the quarter off the same way he did the fourth - with a 3-pointer followed by a layup.
Johnson led all scorers with 20 points. He also had a game-high six assists as well. Dawson led the Redskins with 16 points and had a game-high six steals.
"They hit good shots. They can shoot the ball and they're a good team. We just had more heart, or had the heart to stop their runs," Johnson said. "We felt like they couldn't stop us on offense, so we just had to stop them on defense."
Hurricane hurt its own cause by going 13-of-24 from the foul line. In the second half, the Redski6ns converted just 7-of-13 shots from the line.
"You've got to give Hurricane credit. They had a good game plan and they're well coached," Kidd said. "You've got to look out once he really gets that program going."
Beckley advances to the semifinals at 9 p.m. Friday, when it will meet the winner of Thursday's quarterfinal game between No. 6 seed Morgantown (19-6) and South Charleston (23-2).
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Follow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT