Chuck Landon: Elmore of same by son of one-time Marshall foe
CHARLESTON -- Another Elmore gave another Huntington-based basketball team fits.
It's like a rivalry made in hoops heaven.
In 1985, Gay Elmore led VMI against Marshall in the Southern Conference tournament championship game in Asheville, N.C. Marshall prevailed, 70-65, but Elmore scored 17 points and was selected tourney MVP.
That set the tone.
For the next two years, there was no bigger rivalry in the Southern Conference than Elmore vs. the Herd.
So, is it any wonder that George Washington High School star Jon Elmore, Gay's youngest son, developed a keen rivalry with Huntington High?
Of course not.
It's the lay of the DNA land.
And what a rivalry it was here Thursday in the 101st West Virginia State High School boys basketball tournament in the Charleston Civic Center. The Highlanders outlasted GW, 72-64, to advance to the semifinals, but Elmore made it more than a little interesting by scoring 27 of his 40 points in a scorching fourth-quarter performance.
"When it rains," said Elmore with a smile and shrug, "it pours."
Of course, Huntington High had a slightly different viewpoint.
"I've never played against something like that," said Huntington High sophomore J.R. Howard, who guarded Elmore for most of the game. "It's very difficult. He can shoot from anywhere on the court.
"And he's more athletic than people get him credit for."
The 6-foot-3 Elmore proved that by consistently taking the ultra-athletic Highlanders off the dribble, instead of settling for 3-pointers.
"You can't give him open threes," said Howard, who also had 17 points on 6-for-11 shooting. "You have to make him work for his shots."
So, Elmore did.
He worked and worked and, then, worked even more.
"You guys saw it," said veteran GW coach Rick Greene. "That's what you get from him every time he's on the floor. He just hates to lose. He does everything humanly possible."
Make that, everything Elmore possible.
He's definitely a shot off the old block.
"My grandfather (Gay Sr.) played for WVU," said the younger Elmore, "but I think that was before film. And my dad? I've just seen a few highlights of him. But I owe everything to him."
That sentiment is why it's no surprise that Elmore is following his father and his older brother, Ot, to VMI. If your name is Elmore and you play basketball, you're a Keydet.
But although the Elmores stick together, it doesn't mean they aren't competitive within the family framework.
"Every family member is crazy competitive," said Jon with a grin. "When I hit a bunch of threes against Capital and scored 40 points in one half, I got a call from my brother later that night. He said, 'You might have scored a lot of points in a half, but I still have the family record for points in a quarter with 21.' "
Sorry, Ot, not anymore.
That wasn't the only Elmore family record that fell Thursday, either. In the 1982 state tournament, Gay scored 38 points for South Charleston against Jefferson. But, now, Jon holds the record with 40 points.
"I got some bragging rights today," said the youngest Elmore.
Yet, again the Huntington team prevailed.
Hey, isn't it about time for Marshall to renew its series with VMI?
Chuck Landon is a sports columnist for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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