Fairland wins St. Joe Invitational
HUNTINGTON -- Fairland and Spring Valley left absolutely nothing on the floor as the Dragons came up with a 54-52 win over the Timberwolves in the Gold Bracket boys basketball final of the St. Joe Invitational at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
Spring Valley jumped out first Saturday, taking it to the Dragons and closing the first quarter with an 18-9 lead.
But as was the case with so many of the SJI games Saturday, Fairland battled back and got out to a nine-point lead over the Timberwolves by the end of the third quarter.
"We saw that Spring Valley team and when they played Chesapeake (Thursday) and they were a hungry team," said Fairland head coach Nathan Speed. "And they came out that way against us. They were more aggressive and we were on our heels a bit. It just took a few timeouts and a few talks to get us going and taking the ball to the basket."
Both teams were hampered by foul trouble early, as Fairland's Evan Maddox and Spring Valley's Jacob Kilgore both picked up two in the first quarter.
The unexpected turn came when Josh Steele, who had stepped up in Kilgore's absence, suddenly found himself with four fouls, including a technical, in the third quarter.
"I think that was a case where Josh was the second guy to react and he got caught," Spring Valley head coach Cory Maynard said. "But he's got to be smarter than that."
Maynard was, as always, proud of his team's effort, but a bit disappointed in its execution in the second half, especially a third quarter where Fairland outscored the Timberwolves 18-5.
But Spring Valley was still in a position to win or tie the game with 11 seconds on the clock, thanks to some poor free throw shooting on Fairland's part. The Timberwolves got two looks at the basket, but didn't convert.
Fairland's Kyle Raines pounced on the rebound of the second shot, and called a timeout with one second left. Fairland then inbounded the ball and ended the game.
"Obviously we're going to be practicing some foul shooting over the next few days," Speed said with a laugh. "But Spring Valley, my gosh they played hard, and it was a great game.
"If feels nice, it feels real nice," he said of bringing an SJI title to Fairland.
Maddox led Fairland with 16 points, while Kilgore had 17 for Spring Valley.
In another comeback, when Wayne jumped out to a 9-0 lead on Huntington St. Joe in the Blue Bracket consolation game, it looked to be another long evening for a team that has struggled to put a complete game together.
But the St. Joe Irish put together a slow, steady comeback and won, 49-42.
St. Joe head coach Ross Scaggs called a timeout after Wayne's Alex Elkins scored three baskets from the post uncontested and Brayden Baker drained a three within the first three minutes of the contest.
"I told them that there was a lot of basketball left to be played, and we were going to get back into this by playing defense and playing hard," Scaggs said.
The message didn't sink in right away. The first points for the Irish didn't come until Anthony Rabel got a bucket with 3:35 to go in the first quarter, and the opening frame finished with the Pioneers up 18-6.
Rabel, normally St. Joe's post presence, was playing point guard and both he and go-to scorer Michael Mayes had trouble settling in during the first half offensively.
Wulf Goheen came off the bench to hit a three at the halftime buzzer, cutting the Wayne lead to seven, and the Irish had some mojo going.
Rabel got going in the third quarter and Mayes did the same in the final period while the defense forced some turnovers.
St. Joe took its first lead early in the fourth quarter, 37-36. They gave it up one more time, but got it right back.
For a team that has a lot of tough breaks the win was one to cherish, especially since it came at the SJI.
"No one wants to go 0-2 in their own tournament," Scaggs said. "Wayne played a great game, and they never gave up. I just think we did some things today that you have to do to win basketball games, and I'm really proud of our team."
The Blue Bracket championship went to Charleston Catholic, which put on a comeback of its own and knocked off Wesley Christian from Allen, Ky., 47-43.
Charleston Catholic, also known as the Irish, played from behind for most of the game, but Nick George, who finished with 16 points, was able to assert himself in the post, and Zach Casto and Garret McCarty were clutch from the free throw line.
"We told our kids this is a championship game and we treated it like one," said Charleston Catholic head coach Jim McClanahan. "We know the history of the tournament, and its been around for years and years and years, so absolutely, this is a big deal for us."
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the night was Chesapeake's dominant performance over Mountain Mission in the Gold Bracket consolation. Chesapeake held the team from Grundy, Va., to three points in the first quarter en route to a 61-43 win.
Chesapeake was fueled by Javon Thompson, who made nine consecutive foul shots in a 28-point performance.
"We've won (the SJI) the past four years in a row, so it was a bit disappointing to get our win in this game," Panthers head coach Ryan Davis said. "But I think our defense played pretty well against a very good team."
Eastern Meigs beat Boyd County, 50-44, in a non-SJI girls game.
Two middle school games that started the day off ended with Ceredo-Kenova's boys and girls defeating Huntington St. Joe.
SPRING VALLEY 18 8 5 21 -- 52: Kilgore 17, Steele 12, Herbert 10, Robertson 6, Keyser 6, Meade 1.
FAIRLAND 9 13 18 14 -- 54: Maddox 16, Phillips 12, Campbell 4, Raines 8, Flynn 2, Short 5.
HUNTINGTON ST. JOE 6 12 13 18 -- 49: Mayes 19, Rabel 18, Dransfeld 5, Goheen 3, McNeil 2, Jenkins 2.
WAYNE 18 7 10 7 -- 42: Elkins 14, Justice 13, C. Queen 8, Baker 5, Watts 2.
WESLEY CHRISTIAN 18 7 10 8 -- 43: Amuzu 14, Thompson 10, Stephen Goble 12, Caldwell 5, Hall 2.
CHARLESTON CATHOLIC 14 11 6 16 -- 47: Casto 16, George 15, McCarty 9, Godwin 5, Hovorka 2.
CHESAPEAKE 13 14 16 18 -- 61: Thompson 28, Lindsey 10, Heffner 8, Duffield 7, Meadows 2, Stevens 2, Saunders 2, A. Thompson 2.
MOUNTAIN MISSION 3 13 7 20 -- 43: Hailu-Mitaka 16, Ali 10, Alemayehu 9, Graham 5, Hirpa 2, Samuel 1.
Boys middle school
CEREDO-KENOVA 14 11 12 16 -- 53: Morrone 7, Malashevich 2, Brown 20, Simmons 2, Stambaugh 9, McBride 7, Scarberry 6.
HUNTINGTON ST. JOE 9 12 4 5 -- 30: Morrison 14, Giompalo 4, Dye 5, Hankins 2, Huron 2, Bias 3.