Winfield's Cole Schoolcraft takes it to the hoop on Ripley's Jamison Hunt.
WINFIELD, W.Va. - Winfield coach Pat McGinnis held up the Generals' warm-up shirt for the 2013-14 season, which had the word "team'' printed on the back several times.In Tuesday's night season opener, the Generals displayed a cohesiveness that wasn't always present last season in dispatching Ripley with a high-octane offense that produced a 91-66 victory. A crowd of about 600 attended the Class AAA Mountain State Athletic Conference matchup.Senior guard Zach Fisher paced the Generals with 21 points followed by junior Bear Bellomy's 19. Senior Toby Show contributed 11 points, 13 rebounds and five assists for Winfield while junior Heath Diehl chipped in 11 points and senior Cole Schoolcraft had nine points.The Generals knocked down 17 3-pointers and hit on 46 percent of their attempts from long range. Winfield scored 58 points by halftime after 28- and 30-point first and second quarters for a 34-point lead (58-24) and the game was decided by the break. The Generals also pressed Ripley into 23 turnovers."It feels good,'' said Fisher, who made 7 of 15 shots and added six rebounds, four assists and two steals. "It helps our confidence a lot."We started the full-court press and getting [the ball] out faster and try to speed [the game] up because we have a smaller team. Just getting open and sharing the ball and shooting in rhythm.''Winfield looked like a state-tournament-caliber team for most of last season, finishing with a winning record (14-9) in its first time in the ultra-competitive MSAC. The Generals haven't made states since the 2008-09 season, their first in AAA.
"We felt last year not too many guys were thinking this way,'' McGinnis said of the team concept. "To have [four] guys in double figures, that's what we're kind of shooting for. We shared the ball, 25 assists, and that's pretty daggone good."I was really pleased with our pressure. We got after it. We haven't scored like that in a long time. In a game against a stronger opponent you're going to have to play four quarters like that. We want to play four quarters right on the ball and man-to-man and get pressures and traps.''Ripley freshman point guard Jamison Hunt led the way with 21 points on 7-of-11 shooting, including four 3s, while senior Kade Harrison added 13 points and six rebounds. Vikings freshman Chase Johnson turned in eight points and seven boards and sophomore Lukas Layhew had seven points and seven caroms."They got hot and blew us out,'' said longtime Ripley coach Craig Harmon. "Their pressure got us. We're awful young. I had three freshmen [play]. They got their feet wet.''Fisher said he believes the Generals can keep up the pace they have set."I feel like we can and we will,'' he said matter-of-factly. "We're working hard at it. I think we're getting better. We're all playing well together.''Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4811.