The shorthanded South knew it was in trouble even before tipoff of Friday’s game. But with the way the North was shooting, it was double trouble.
Fairmont Senior’s dynamic duo of Jalen Bridges and Zyon Dobbs helped their team control the torrid pace and nine of the North’s 11 players scored in double figures as they rolled to a record-breaking 171-141 victory in the North-South All-Star Basketball Classic at the South Charleston Community Center.
Bridges and Dobbs shared MVP honors for their team, with Bridges totaling 23 points and five rebounds and Dobbs adding 22 points and six rebounds.
“I’ve played in a lot of high-scoring games,’’ Bridges said, “but that was on another level.’’
The North shot 58 percent for the game and hit 100 points on a Bridges 3-pointer with 16:44 left in the second half. The South, which had just eight players on its roster, trailed 88-60 at halftime and was never within 25 points afterward.
Four players on the original roster for the South, including state player of the year runner-up Bunky Brown of George Washington, did not compete in the game. The South couldn’t even go five on five in pregame practices, meaning coaches Mike Gray and Matt Morrison had to step in for extra duty.
Bridges, who captured the Evans Award last winter as the player of the year in West Virginia, said the record rout was likely to happen even if the South’s full roster showed on Friday.
“I think it wouldn’t have mattered too much,’’ Bridges said. “But it is what it is, and you’ve got to go with what you’ve got.’’
The teams obliterated previous scoring highs since the series resumed in 1983. For instance, the most points either side had scored prior to Friday came during the South’s 136-98 victory in 1985. The losing South team even managed to surmount that mark on Friday. The previous record point total for a losing team came in the North’s 117-114 overtime loss in 1983, the year the series resumed.
Two stats of note both favored the North in a big way on Friday.
The South had 14 turnovers to the North’s four — the North didn’t commit its first turnover until 12:12 remained in the second half, by which time it led 121-90. The North also threw down 12 slam dunks compared to three for the South, a byproduct of Bridges, Dobbs and Cam Selders (Morgantown) constantly racing down the floor for the North. Bridges finished with five dunks, Selders four, Dobbs two and Cameron Williams (Musselman) one. Jay Cook (Greater Beckley Christian) had all three slams for the South.
The scoring was fairly balanced for the North. Joining Bridges and Dobbs in double figures were Williams with 22 points, Selders and Tyler West (Tyler Consolidated) with 20 each, Elliot White (Elkins) with 15, Joel Robertson (Trinity) and Daniel Woods (Trinity) with 12 apiece and Gabe Zummo (Notre Dame) with 11. Williams grabbed 10 rebounds and Selders eight and each also dished out five assists.
The South, which gunned in 26 3-pointers to the North’s 21, was led by Webster County’s Dorian Groggs with 33 points and seven assists. He sank 9 of 19 from long range and was selected as his team’s MVP. Moore added 31 points and seven rebounds and Bryce Radford (Woodrow Wilson) had 25 points and eight assists.
Other South players reaching double figures were Devin Collins (Chapmanville) with 19 points and 11 rebounds, Collin O’Dell (Greenbrier West) with 14 points and nine rebounds and Tyler Gray (Webster) with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Groggs, who also won the 3-point shooting contest during the pregame skills events, was satisfied with his performance, especially since it reflects well on small-school basketball players. The Highlanders were Class A champions last winter with a 28-0 record.
“It means a lot playing against triple-A players,’’ Groggs said. “It’s a factor — single-A people only have 400 kids in school and triple-A has what, over 1,000? I mean either way, it doesn’t matter. As long as you work out and get in the gym every day. Most of these kids I know, and they’re all great people.’’
Groggs will attend Concord in the fall to major in biology and play basketball.
The West Virginia Athletic Directors Association, sponsor of the game, awarded $500 scholarships to the South’s Groggs and the North’s Cullen Cutright (Williamstown). Other skills winners were Dobbs (free throws) and Selders (slam dunk).