Poca boys survive slowdown, rally past Hurricane 35-30

Justin Rogers | Gazette-Mail
Poca’s Mitch Hoffman puts up a shot against two Hurricane defenders Tuesday night.

HURRICANE — In a game where every possession counted, Poca prevailed despite some very pedestrian numbers and long lapses of scoreless play.

Luke Frampton had 14 points and hit all seven of his second-half free throws Tuesday night as the visiting Dots shrugged off Hurricane’s methodical game plan to earn a 35-30 victory in their Putnam County rivalry, souring the Redskins’ Senior Night festivities.

Frampton went 4 of 4 at the line in the final 15 seconds to finally put away the Redskins (9-11), who led for most of the first three quarters behind a patient offensive approach that dribbled away chunks of time with virtually every possession.

The win gave the Dots (14-5), ranked No. 5 in Class AA, a season sweep of their Class AAA county rivals.

“That’s a good game for us to play,’’ said Poca coach Derek Ragle. “It really teaches the value of a possession. In game like that, every possession is important, offensively and defensively.”

Poca managed a win even though it made only eight field goals and had two lengthy spells without a point — 7 minutes, 31 seconds in the first half and 6:20 in the second half.

The Dots trailed 21-19 with two minutes remaining in the third quarter before finally getting a cushion. Frampton tied it with a pull-up jumper and then was fouled hoisting a 3-pointer and made all three free throws for a 24-21 lead that stood after three periods.

Poca reserve Evan McKneely sank a 3-pointer from the left corner off a nice feed from Bronson Skeens with 3:15 left in the game and Skeens followed with a fast-break goal and the Dots were in control 29-23 with 1:28 to go.

Hurricane then had to foul virtually every possession to lengthen the game, but Poca was 6 of 6 at the line in the final quarter and 16 of 19 overall.

Braxton Dobert swished a 27-foot 3 to shave the Skins’ deficit to 33-30 with 8.7 seconds left, but Frampton iced it with two more makes at the foul line.

“The first half, I didn’t think we did a very good job,’’ Poca’s Ragle said. “We just gave them too many offensive rebounds. When we did get them to shoot and they did miss, we bailed them out by letting them get second chances. I thought we did a better job in the second half, offense and defense and rebounding.’’

Hurricane’s offensive approach, borne from a lack of consistent outside shooters, has evolved as the season progressed. After watching some of Hurricane’s recent games, Ragle knew there was a good chance the Redskins were going to come out ultra-patient on offense, and stressed to his players not to overreact to the strategy.

“One of the keys of the game we told them was not to panic,’’ Ragle said. “We had an idea they were going to play this four-corners. They did this against Parkersburg South on the big Civic Center floor.

“We practiced for it and told them not to panic — don’t panic on defense, don’t gamble, don’t come down and try to score baskets real quick and have bad possessions and take bad shots. And we did that in the first half. We panicked and I thought in the second half, we did a better job of being more patient and getting the shots we wanted.’’

Poca was 4 of 16 from the floor in the first half and trailed 17-14 at halftime when Hurricane’s Evan Dearing zinged in a 3 just ahead of the horn.

The Redskins took their final lead at 21-19 on a driving shot late in the third quarter by Dobert, who led them with 13 points.

Hurricane coach Lance Sutherland said his team’s spread-and-strike approach, which had worked in recent wins against Parkersburg South (65-60) and Spring Valley (55-38), was a little more time-consuming Tuesday because of Poca’s defense.

“They went to their packed line,’’ Sutherland said, “and we wanted to make them come out and guard us man to man. That’s the same offense we’ve been running the last four, five games against teams like Parkersburg South. They matched up and went tight and gave us lanes.

“[The way] Poca plays, I feared it would be like this, and that was the game plan going in. That’s what we’ve been doing. It was just more deliberate.’’

Hurricane’s ploys were foiled in part because it wasted too many possessions, finishing with 14 turnovers, 10 of them Poca steals.

Frampton finished with four steals to go along with five rebounds. Skeens added seven points for the Dots. For the Skins, Nick Muto grabbed eight rebounds and Dobert seven.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or rickryan@wvgazettemail.com. Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

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