Soph putting a charge in Dots
POCA, W.Va. - Every high school boys team has one guy that takes just a little bit more grief than everyone else on the team.
Sophomore Matt Chandler has been that guy for the Poca basketball team, although after Friday's performance it's going to be a bit tougher for his teammates to justify the hazing.
Chandler hit 6 of 7 shots from the floor for 16 points, led Poca in rebounding with eight, provided steady offense throughout and got a standing ovation in the fourth quarter as Poca ran past Mingo Central 68-47 in a Cardinal Conference matchup.
The role as scapegoat is a needed one as a team deals with the rigors and stresses of a long season, and for Chandler, it's been something he's embraced.
"Ever since I've met them they've always done that to me and I've just been able to take it," Chandler said with a grin.
Coach Allen Osborne will sure take more performances like the one he got from Chandler on Friday.
"He's the silent assassin," Osborne said. "He does a good job. He's around the ball, he shoots the ball well, he really came on at the end of last year for us and he's done a great job all year. These other guys in here give him a lot of grief. I told him he ought to whip some of their butts."
It was the second win over Mingo in a week for Poca and the Dots weren't in any mood to waste time establishing a lead on Friday.
Poca made 10 of 13 shots in the first quarter en route to a 24-7 advantage and jumped out to a 12-0 lead from the get-go.
Meanwhile, the Miners (4-3 overall, 3-3 Cardinal Conference) found the net just 4 of 21 times in the first half and scored just 13 points in the first 16 minutes.
"When they shoot like that they're very hard to stop," Mingo Central coach Brad Napier said of the Dots. "They run their stuff so good that when they're knocking down shots like that they can beat anyone in the state."
Credit Poca's signature swarming defense and the efficiency in which sophomore guard Noah Frampton and junior guard Cam Cottrill consistently broke the Miners' press, found open shots in transition and handled the ball all evening long.
"Whenever we did what we were supposed to do we handled the press pretty good," Osborne said. "I was proud of our guys. They kept playing and didn't fold when they had a couple of chances to. It was a good win for us, Mingo has been a pretty good team."
Cottrill scored a team-high 20 points and Frampton added 12, but as usual it was Poca's defense that did the real damage.
The Dots (7-1, 3-1) allowed just 31 percent shooting Friday and they haven't given up more than 53 points in a game all season. Poca is 7-0 when holding a team to 51 or less and opponents are averaging just 44.5 points per contest.
Poca may not be the biggest, strongest or most athletic team, but Chandler credits his team's relentless effort for the Dots' success thus far.
"We're just always hard workers," Chandler said. "We never settle down and we're always out there working our butts off. We never go easy on each other, we pretty much get in fights in practice almost every day - we just really work hard."
To Mingo's credit, the Miners overcame struggles on the offensive end and wouldn't let Poca relax, though the deficit never shrank below 12 after the first quarter.
Marqus Cunningham scored 13 points to lead Mingo while Austin Banks added 12.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.