TENNERTON — The #14 ranked Buckhannon- Upshur High school boys’ basketball team opened the season up by welcoming the #8 Wheeling Park Patriots to town for a game between ranked AAAA teams. The Bucs’ veteran team had high hopes entering the season but were faced with a very tough early obstacle.
The Bucs’ senior Lamar Hurst won the opening tip-off to start the first offensive possession of the season but came up empty. The night got back on track seconds later after a quick steal led to senior Mason Hyre knocking down a catch-and-shoot three on the other end. The next possession off of a Wheeling Park miss, Hyre collected the long rebound and tossed it ahead to Lamar Hurst streaking towards the rack for a dunk to cap off the fast break in highlight fashion. The Bucs’ pace and defensive effort highlighted the first quarter, forcing four turnovers and wanting to operate in the open court early and often in route to building a 15-12 lead.
The second quarter, saw game tighten up. The Bucs’ only scored eight points in this quarter, cooling off compared to the first quarter. Other than Hyre showing nice touch on a contested floater and Hurst showing off on a euro-step layup, to highlight his 6 second quarter points, the Bucs found points harder to come by. As a result, Wheeling Park slightly outscored the Bucs’ 12-8, to take a narrow one-point lead going into halftime, 24-23.
After halftime, Hurst came out hot and scored 4 early points before getting into foul trouble, heading to the bench after his third foul. With Hurst on the bench, Hyre and senior Harrison Walker stepped up offensively, while seniors Oliver King and Sterlin Thropp contributed to the Bucs’ hounding perimeter defense. Sophomores Ian Strader and Jaden Westfall both saw valuable minutes and held their own against top notch competition, hitting the boards, taking care of the ball, and protecting the rim. Despite this with 3:36 left in the third, the Bucs’ called timeout, down 34-29. Following that timeout, things finally started clicking for the Bucs, going on a 13-2 run to regain a lead going into halftime, 42-36. Walker came up big during the closing stretches of the quarter, netting 5 points in the last 1:16 as the Bucs’ found themselves on the verge of a huge seasoning opening win heading into the fourth.
To open the fourth quarter, the Bucs’ smothered Wheeling Park’s ball-handler into a double-dribble. Following the turnover, steady junior point guard Zach Calef-Boring hit a three off a crisp pass by Walker to build on the Bucs’ lead. Once the Bucs stretched their lead into double digits, the Patriots stormed back in desperation, forcing the Bucs’ to call a timeout with 2:51 left, only up 55-52. This timeout proved to be the one of the defining moments of the game, steadying the Bucs’ enough down the stretch to hold off for an upset win over Wheeling Park, 61-57.
Three Bucs reached double-digit scoring marks in the win, as Hurst paced the team in scoring, with 24 points, followed by Walker who scored 12, and Hyre with 11; Calef-Boring came close scoring 7 points, including 5 in the fourth quarter. Hurst also pulled down a game-high 8 rebounds displaying consistent effort on the glass. Calef-Boring, Walker, and Hyre largely handled ball-handling and playmaking duties within the offense, each netting 4 assists a piece.
The Bucs’ will look to carry their momentum into their next game as they welcome AAAA’s preseason #2 ranked team, the Morgantown Mohigans to town this Friday. The game is slated to tip-off around 7:30 p.m. at B- UHS.