WINFIELD — Not much was going right for Poca in the first half of Friday night’s Putnam County rivalry game against Winfield.
The Dots never found their range on 3-pointers and were saddled with quite a few uncharacteristic turnovers. Combined with just five points from sophomore standout Isaac McKneely, it could have been a recipe for disaster. But it wasn’t, mainly because the Dots’ defense never let them down.
Poca (15-2) held the Generals to 21.6 percent shooting from the floor and used their four-corners offense to good advantage in the second half, earning a 63-43 conquest in front of a near-capacity crowd at Winfield.
McKneely finished with 18 points and Noah Rittinger had 17, but it was definitely the Dots’ defense that determined the outcome.
“Our defense was outstanding,’’ said Poca coach Allen Osborne. “They can score, but I thought we really defended them well, so this is a big win for us because it’s a sectional win.’’
Despite its problems, Poca led 25-14 at halftime as the Generals (7-8) connected on just 4 of 25 shots. The closest Winfield came in the second half was nine points as it never found its groove from the floor.
Generals coach Chris Stephens was unsure how much of the lackluster shooting was due to Poca’s defense and how much was due to his team’s own inaccuracy.
“I’ll have to watch the film,’’ Stephens said, “but I know their length hurt us with turnovers. A lot of our shots were open shots and layups, but their length outside of [Ethan] Payne is what hurt us tonight.’’
Perhaps realizing that his own team wasn’t exactly tearing it up from the perimeter (1 of 9 on 3s for the game), Osborne opted to install his team’s four-corner offense a bit earlier than usual, spreading the floor at the 3:43 mark of the third quarter with the Dots ahead 30-20.
That paid immediate dividends for the Dots, who converted 14 of 20 second-half shots for 70 percent, many of those driving layups by McKneely, Rittinger and Jackson Toney. Toney came off the bench to provide 12 points and five rebounds.
“When Isaac’s more aggressive, it opens up things for us,’’ Osborne said. “We’ve been into [the four corners] several times this year, and we thought we could beat them off the dribble. We were in foul trouble, too, and Coach Stephens made a great adjustment when they started to double Isaac and denying him the ball.
“So we got some easy baskets against the press and got some fast breaks. Noah Rittinger got to the rim and so did Jackson Toney. Those guys are capable of driving the ball to the rim, so it makes our offense hard to guard.’’
Nate Vance also played a key role in the defensive doings for the Dots, turning in four blocked shots, six rebounds and four points in limited playing time due to foul trouble.
“He was a factor tonight,’’ Osborne said. “He protected the rim for us and got some big rebounds.’’
Vance had one of Poca’s three dunks, that coming on a nasty follow off a missed shot. McKneely had the other two.
For Winfield, Hunter Morris scored 13 points and Christian Frye eight. Joey Gress grabbed eight rebounds and Donovan Craft five, but the Generals trailed 33-31 off the boards. They were just 3 of 21 from 3-point distance but did manage to hit 18 of 20 free throws.
The Generals play Class AA-ranked Robert C. Byrd Monday during the Little General Shootout at the Big House at West Virginia State.