WAYNE, W.Va. - Like a lot of Kanawha Valley teams, Poca's players carried around plenty of pent-up energy because of an intermittent practice and playing schedule.On Tuesday evening, they hit the floor like a racehorse hits the track.Freshman Elijah Cuffee poured in a career-best 23 points and the Dots knocked down 11 3-pointers in galloping past Wayne 87-38. It marked the third time in seven games this season that Class AA No. 5 Poca (6-1) had topped 80 points.The game was moved to Wayne because Poca's school building hasn't been cleared for classes or extracurriculars because of the area's water emergency."I think we played a lot harder,'' Cuffee said, "especially having not played in a while.''It was only the second game since Dec. 30 for Poca because of myriad obstacles - snow, below-zero temperatures and the recent water crisis that has shut down Kanawha Valley schools and businesses.Noah Frampton gunned in six of Poca's 3s and finished with 20 points, and Matt Chandler scored a dozen points. The Dots led 42-22 at halftime and the 11 3s were one off their season high.
"I'm proud of our guys,'' said Poca coach Allen Osborne, "with the way they've handled it all, because you get out of your routine and it's hard. We're young, too, but they played well tonight, shot the ball well and rebounded well.''Wayne (6-3), which had a four-game winning streak halted, was enjoying a landmark season of sorts before the Dots stormed into town.The Pioneers, with just one winning season since joining the Cardinal Conference in the 1999-2000 school year, had already snapped a 19-game league losing streak this season with a Jan. 3 victory over Herbert Hoover and topped that with a satisfying win against county rival Tolsia.That ended a 16-game drought against the Rebels and was just the second triumph for Wayne in 60 games against Tolsia.
"I was concerned,'' Osborne said, "because they've had a pretty good season so far, and we were really worried about them on the boards. But we rebounded the ball well and took care of it pretty good.''Grant Ferguson was the only Pioneer to score in double figures with 10 points."I told Coach Osborne this is one of the better teams he's ever had,'' said Wayne coach Sam Cochenour. "He's got everything - youth and a lot of other stuff. Their outside shooting was unbelievable. I've seen them play and I knew how good they were."I told our guys the early part of our schedule was soft, and now we were going to hit the hard part with Poca, Mingo Central and Chapmanville. Our guys came out a little bit overconfident, and we came out tired. But this is what I expected from Poca.''
Wayne's point total marked a season low and was just the second time the Pioneers had been held below 53 points."I'm disappointed we didn't keep it closer,'' Cochenour said. "I looked up and it was 10-8 and the next thing, it was 18-8. We used our timeouts early to try and stop their runs. But they came off their screens and the timing was perfect, the spacing was perfect. This is a good team.''Despite all the inactivity as far as games, Poca has managed to keep a fairly even practice schedule, according to Osborne."Our Board of Education has been very helpful,'' Osborne said. "They've allowed us to practice in places that have [non-contaminated] water, and the board has provided transportation for us. We're very fortunate that Hurricane High School has water, and they allowed us to practice Saturday and [Monday]."We've only missed one day of practice. The big issue now is making up games.''The Dots have had three games called off because of weather.
Reach Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or firstname.lastname@example.org.