Bluefield beats North Marion 62-51
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This time of year, it doesn't have to be pretty as long as it gets done.
On Thursday, Class AA No. 1 Bluefield was a long way from perfect, but utilized its pressure defense in choking No. 8 North Marion in a 62-51 quarterfinal win at the Civic Center.
The Beavers were fine defensively and really put the clamps down on North Marion after the first quarter, but Bluefield has a lot to fix offensively, especially at the foul line. The Beavers will play in the semifinals at 7:15 tonight against No. 4 Robert C. Byrd.
"We're very fortunate to move on," Bluefield coach Charles "Buster" Large said. "We're very happy to win but we're very capable of playing a lot better and I hope we do that [tonight].
"No. 1, free-throw shooting, which we're going to do very early in the morning. We're much better than that. We must've shot for 20 minutes [Wednesday] but it's a big atmosphere down here. I know we were probably a little bit nervous but I think we'll solve that problem [today]."
All day on Thursday, games were called tightly and foul shots piled up to large numbers in each game. Beavers guard Lykel Collier took advantage, repeatedly driving through the North Marion defense and getting himself to the foul line.
Collier was only able to convert 11 of 21 of those chances, and as a team Bluefield made only 20 of 39. But luckily for the Beavers, quantity over quality worked as North Marion attempted just six free throws, making three.
Collier scored a game-high 17 points, dished out a game-best nine assists and registered five steals while controlling the game from his point-guard spot by attacking the rim and finding shooters.
Large said much of the game plan revolved around attacking the rim, something that paid dividends at the free-throw stripe.
"We emphasized before the game that it would be called tight," Large said. "The way we feel about shooting 39 free throws is that we attacked the bucket quite a bit. With our guard play we emphasize driving a lot."
The Beavers needed to attack the rim as they came up empty (0 for 6) from 3-point range.
Despite the missed scoring opportunities, Bluefield's defense was more than up to the task as a mixture of 2-2-1, half-court traps and full-court man-to-man defenses forced the Huskies into a frantic brand of basketball.
The Beavers held advantages in points off turnovers (18-6) and fast-break points (10-2) and, after trailing 15-13 at the end of the first quarter, really stiffened on defense, forcing 19 North Marion turnovers along the way.
"I thought obviously the big part of the game I think that turnovers killed us," North Marion coach Chris Freeman said. "They were giving us every chance in the world to keep us in this game because they were missing front ends of 1-and-1s, they were not finishing their free throws - unfortunately, every time they did that we'd come down and turn it over, then it seemed like when they made their free throws we'd come back down and score. We could never get enough stops or enough shots to go in the fourth quarter."
Anthony Eades (15 points), D.J. Edwards (13) and Corey Coppola (13) were also in double figures in scoring for Bluefield (23-3).
Matt Cain led North Marion (16-9) with 16 points and 12 rebounds followed by Cameron Wilson with 13 and Cody Opron with 11 points and 11 boards.
The Beavers defeated Tolsia in a semifinal game last year before falling to Tug Valley in the championship game.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.