By Carl Holcomb
East Hardy had a double-digit lead in the fourth quarter and even a six point edge with under a minute left to be on the verge of crashing senior night at the Hive, but the Yellow Jackets rose to the occasion to force overtime on a 3-pointer by senior Zach Clem and kept the momentum for a 73-69 overtime victory last Friday.
“There was a lot of back and forth,” Moorefield Coach Pat McGregor commented.[private] “We got down by ten at one point in the second half. We might have been down 8-10 in the first half, but both times we managed to fight our way back into it. We did a few bad things and would fall on our face. They made some crucial turnovers late in the game that we forced them into and we got rebounds. Rebounding down the stretch was a big key for us. I put Sloan [Williams] and [Zach] Clem in the game and told them to shoot a couple threes. I told Clem to make a three and as soon as Sloan came in he made one, and of course Clem made the tying one to send it to overtime. They did what the coach asked of them. I was glad to see that happen. The emotions from the home crowd was great and that was our first home crowd. If you aren’t winning, they don’t come. It was senior night, so it was a good night for Moorefield. I wish the girls would have won, but it was a good win for the boys. It was our first home win in a long time, so we needed this win on our home floor. It was nice to pull out the home victory. It was special with Clem as a senior hitting the three and it was his night. He was probably dreaming of something like that his whole life. His dream came true for him. Give Coach [Scott] Stutler a lot of credit for this win, he put our guys through many situations during the week. Coach Stutler’s drills paid off tonight. I thought we were going to win it with G’s [Greg Franklin] steal and the shot by Drake [Baker] looked good. A lot of things haven’t gone our way this year and we were fortunate to force overtime and make clutch shots. Once we got into overtime, I felt confident to win because we had more bounce in our step. We can’t put up 80 points a game. We’ve really started grounding ourselves and started to get back to man-to-man defense Moorefield is used to playing. We got back to what we do and created problems and we got rebounds. If we continue to do that, then we’re competitive with everyone we play.”
A pair of free throws by East Hardy’s Tim Hahn provided a 57-51 cushion for the Cougars with 53 seconds remaining in regulation.
“We played not to lose, when we should have played to seal the game,” East Hardy Coach Chris Hahn stated.
“Missed nine foul shots in the fourth and overtime. Gave up 4-5 offensive rebounds on foul shots late in the game. We gave up our tempo late in the third and that is not who we are. Our lack of depth was certainly a big factor on the boards.”
After a missed shot by Moorefield (5-13), there was a scramble for the ball and senior Caleb Kite snatched it and was fouled by Ricky Robinson.
Another foul was committed by the Cougars (4-15) sending Moorefield senior Gregory Franklin to the free throw line and both shots were made with 35 seconds to go.
Moorefield applied pressure and fouled within five seconds with Hahn going to the line and missing, then Drake Baker got the rebound for the Yellow Jackets.
Robinson fouled out sending Kite to the free throw line, but both shots were off the mark.
Clem collected the miss, but failed to connect and Franklin snatched the carom and was fouled with 16 seconds left and added both free throws for a 57-55 score.
Clay Skovron was fouled by Kite, but missed both attempts at the line and Brett Tharp got the rebound and made one of two foul shots with 12 seconds left to go up 58-55.
In front of the student section, Clem drilled the game-tying 3-pointer with three seconds left and the crowd and bench erupted in jubilation.
Three seconds were added back on the scoreboard, but the Cougars fumbled the ball away as Franklin stole it and made a pass to Baker who had the final shot go off the rim as the buzzer sounded for overtime.
Franklin secured the tip-off in overtime and dished to Clem who swooped in for a layup to start overtime.
Kite fouled out on the next possession, but Tharp missed both free throws and Clem got the board.
East Hardy made a trap and fouled Garett Haggerty who made both foul shots for the Yellow Jackets at 3:33, 62-58.
The Cougars missed a field goal and then scramble went off Moorefield out of bounds and a second attempt went awry with Baker getting the rebound.
Clem drew a foul and netted both free throws on the next possession.
Hahn sliced inside for a layup as East Hardy cut the deficit to 64-60 with 2:33 to go.
Franklin made a jumper to increase the advantage for the Yellow Jackets, then Strawderman got a rebound and tossed to Hahn for a basket.
After a timeout, Strawderman made a leaping deflection out of bounds.
Skovron fouled Moorefield’s Sloan Williams who missed his attempts, then Tharp got the rebound.
A walk was committed by Hahn, then Baker was fouled and made both free throws at 1:34, 68-62.
East Hardy missed a basket and there was a bump on a tip and the Cougars were assessed a foul with Baker bricking free throws, but Clem got the rebound only to have the shot ricochet and be collected by Tharp.
The Cougars missed two shot attempts with Skovron and Baker getting the rebounds, then Baker netting one free throw.
Funkhouser netted a jumper with 47 seconds left, but East Hardy trailed 69-64.
Williams was sent to the line and missed both free throws, then East Hardy’s Austin Whetzel snatched the carom and passed to Hahn who made a 3-pointer with 36 seconds to go making it a one possession contest, 69-67.
Baker made a deep pass to Franklin who was fouled by Strawderman and sank both foul shots.
Strawderman netted a basket with 30 seconds left.
There was a collision and Clem called a timeout before a jump ball was issued.
A trap created a foul and Franklin made both free throws with 14 seconds remaining, 73-69.
A ricochet off the rim was saved near the bleachers by Tharp and collected by Baker before being knocked out by Funkhouser.
Tharp deflected a pass out of bounds, then Hahn tipped the ball and it went to Williams holding it for the final horn.
Tharp scored a game-high 22 points for the Cougars, followed by Hahn with 21 points, and Skovron added 10.
Franklin led Moorefield with 16 points, followed by Clem with 14, Kite with 10, and Haggerty with 10.
Moorefield senior Bobby Davis was selected as one of the captains and started the varsity game, then Franklin rolled the ball out of bounds to send Davis to the bench to a huge applause.
After the substitution, Skovron scored on a layup for an early Cougars lead.
Kite was whistled for a charge with Robinson standing in the way of the hoop, then Clem got a defensive rebound and scored along the baseline to tie the game.
Strawderman was called on an offensive foul, then Kite made a layup as the Yellow Jackets took the lead at 6:21.
Franklin sandwiched two defensive caroms around a layup by Kite, then the next series resulted in a charge called on Kite.
Moorefield’s Alex Eye collected a rebound, but the ball was lost out of bounds.
Tharp scored in the paint on the next possession for the Cougars at 5:04.
Franklin hit a 3-pointer and after a couple misses in both directions the Cougars got one by Skovron.
Skovron stole the ball and was fouled, but didn’t connect and Tharp grabbed the rebound and was fouled leading to two free throws made.
Tharp blocked a shot and it went to Hahn who found Strawderman for a 3-pointer and a 12-9 lead at 3:09.
A steal by Tharp resulted in a miss and Baker got there rebound with a timeout called afterward.
Franklin drilled a 3-pointer to tie it up again at 2:32.
After missed shots on both ends, Robinson collected a carom and passed to Strawderman who located Skovron fora 3-pointer.
Tharp blocked a shot, then made an offensive rebound and passed to Hahn who made a layup.
Haggerty leapt across the lane making a floater, but the Cougars had the edge 17-14 entering the second period.
Clem made a jumper over Tharp leaping toward him at 7:05, then Baker blocked an attempt by Tharp.
Both players bumped each other and a warning was issued, then Franklin stole the ball and Baker was whistled for a charge with Tharp preventing a clear path to the basket.
Strawderman netted consecutive field goals with the latter coming off a steal by Tharp.
The Yellow Jackets tied the contest with the combination of a 3-pointer by Clem and a jumper by Kite sandwiching a block by Franklin.
Strawderman got the lead back on the next possession, the Clem was called on a charge.
The Cougars walked before a block from Tharp on Clem.
Tharp made a putback and Skovron snatched the ball on the way for a score increasing the lead to 27-21 at 3:40.
Franklin made a pump fake and a move to the basket, but was called for a travel.
Hahn drained a 3-pointer for a 30-21 advantage at 2:47.
Eye netted a jumper on the following series, then the Cougars lost the ball out of bounds off a miss.
Baker drilled a 3-pointer to close the gap to 30-26 at 2:05.
Tharp scored twice in the final minute of the first half sandwiching two foul shots from Eye for a 34-28 lead at the break.
Hahn dished to Robinson for a jumper to begin the third quarter.
Sloan Williams connected on a trey for the Yellow Jackets, then East Hardy slowed the pace down.
After a minute, Robinson spun in the paint and made a shot for a 38-31 lead at 6:02.
Kite and Tharp alternated field goals over a minute span for a 42-35 margin at 4:43.
Tharp was called for a foul on a tip during a rebound, then Williams drilled a 3-pointer at 4:04, 42-38.
East Hardy answered with a trifecta from Hahn.
After scores by Baker and Haggerty, the Cougars closed the final minute of the frame with a 6-0 run on free throws by Hahn and two field goals from Tharp with the latter off a steal by Strawderman to take a 51-42 lead entering the fourth quarter.
Haggerty scored twice and Kite grabbed two defensive rebounds as the gap was closed to 53-48 with 2:19 left.
Haggerty and Tharp traded steals and Hahn was fouled on a 3-pointer attempt and made two free throws.
The packed house got really noisy with a block by Kite and 3-pointer from Williams at 1:35 as the momentum started to swing in Moorefield’s favor.
In JV action, Moorefield beat the Cougars 49-43.
Grant Keller and Jake Ours led the Yellow Jackets with ten points.
Austin Whetzel scored ten points for East Hardy.
Moorefield visits Frankfort tonight and hosts WVSD tomorrow.[/private]