Story by Carl Holcomb
Pendleton County utilized a second half surge to ground the Yellow Jackets in Franklin last Wednesday 65-47 in the Class A Region II Section 2 semifinal.
“We got into a half-court trap. Moorefield did a good job in the first quarter and a half of playing their style of basketball which was to slow things down and they did a great job of it,” Pendleton County Coach Ryan Lambert stated.
“We were able to get into a half-court trap and play a little more of an uptempo game which is more our style of game and that was the turning point of the game. At the end of the second quarter to the start of the second half, being able to play our style versus Moorefield style which was a great game plan. We did a great job squaring the Moorefield kids up, making them shoot six footers and eight footers, and shots from the elbows rather than allowing them to get to the rim and get to the glass. That is what we practice and we call it limit it to one and run. That’s what we were able to do more successfully in the second half with our uptempo style of ball.”
Moorefield was patient in the first half with a solid defensive strategy enabling a close battle as the game was tied 14-all after the first quarter and the Wildcats held a slim 27-22 advantage entering halftime, but Pendleton County boosted the lead with Trey Cooper dropping a dozen points in the third quarter and scoring spread around in the second half.
Pendleton County is known for shooting perimeter shots and was limited to only two 3-pointers the entire game, however Trey Cooper’s offensive presence was felt in the first and third quarters enabling a game-high 27 points, yet the Yellow Jackets’ defensive maneuvers creating havoc otherwise.
Drake Baker and D.J. Zirk guided the Yellow Jackets with 16 points apiece in their final game as seniors, forging the attack from the start.
Baker netted eight points in the first quarter, while Zirk notched four markers and Garett Haggerty added two points.
Pendleton County countered with 11 points by Cooper and three points from Draven Roberts to keep things tied up.
Tyler Day hit a 3-pointer in the second period for the Wildcats and added a free throw later in the frame, while Cooper and Ridge Liggett contributed four points each and Roberts added another point off a foul shot.
[private] The Yellow Jackets received four points from Zirk in the second frame, while Baker and Zach Eye pitched in two points apiece.
The Wildcats challenged the shooting attempts of Moorefield more aggressively in the second half, forcing off-kilter attempts which created bad opportunities and Pendleton County pounced on the rebounds to limit the second chance opportunities.
Trey Cooper netted 12 points in the third quarter, while brother Luke Cooper added two markers, along with Liggett and Tim Thorne for Pendleton County.
Moorefield had two players score in the third period as Baker made six points and Zirk contributed four points, but the Wildcats held an 18-10 advantage in the frame.
Moorefield seniors Sloan Williams and Rion Landes both knocked down one 3-pointer in the fourth period and Landes added another three points from the foul line.
Zirk scored an additional four points in the final stanza, while Haggerty tossed in a jumper.
Pendleton County answered with eight points by Thorne, while three points apiece came from Roberts, Luke Cooper, Day, and Marcus Sites.
Cooper and Sites got all their points in the fourth quarter from the free throw line as Moorefield was trying to stop the momentum.
The Yellow Jackets finished the season with an overall record of 7-17, while Pendleton County improved to 16-5 before losing to Tucker County in the section championship in Keyser last Friday 61-53 and now travels to Notre Dame tomorrow for the Region II championship with a chance to punch a ticket to Charleston.
Moorefield beat Union 60-48 in the quarterfinals.
“It hurts right now. We didn’t execute down the stretch. The difference in the game was the last three or four minutes of the game was Tucker County being more efficient and making better decisions, ultimately making their free throws and us missing our free throws. The saving grace is that we have an opportunity to go on the road and face a very tough opponent in Notre Dame, but the chance is still there to go on the road and cut down nets,” Coach Lambert concluded. [/private]