TENNERTON – A 10-0 run to close the first quarter helped propel the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneer basketball program to a 63-47 victory over the Bridgeport Indians in the Class AAAA Region 1 Section 2 playoff on Tuesday.
It was another piece of the puzzle for Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Travis Foster’s rebuilding of the program as it was the first sectional win for the team since 2012 when that team defeated Elkins.
“When I took over the program, I told the guys to put your head down and work hard,” said Foster. “Just work hard and it’s going to pay off, and I think now we are starting to see that. We expected to win this game and that maybe wasn’t the case in the past.”
The Bucs started slow, falling behind by 6-2 and 11-8 scores, but that late first-quarter run set the tone for the rest of the game.
“Bridgeport doesn’t like to lose,” remarked Foster. “They are coached well and always find a way to win, but my guys played hard and deserved the win.
Harrison Walker drained a three-pointer to even the game at 11-11 and Lamar Hurst sent home a dunk, the first of two on the night, to give the Bucs their first lead at 13-11.
Ryan Hurst scored the final five points of the quarter with an old-fashioned three-point play and a lay-up to give the Bucs an 18-11 lead after one quarter.
Up, 20-15, the Bucs went on an 8-0 run behind baskets from Zach White, Will McCauley, Ryan Hurst and Noam Keith treating them to a 13-point lead, at 28-15.
Bridgeport went on a 5-0 run to close it to 28-20, but Loudin put in a lay-up to wrap up the first half and give the Bucs a 30-20 lead.
Loudin started the first half with a basket, but Bridgeport got hot from beyond the three-point arc hitting three in a row to make it just a three-point game, at 32-29.
“We knew they would start shooting from outside and we knew they would make a run at us,” remarked Foster. “We told the guys just to hang on, it’s a game of runs and it’s going to happen.”
Lamar Hurst ended the run with a lay-up and Ryan Hurst put in a free throw as the Bucs pushed their lead back to six, at 35-29.
Still leading by a 37-32 score, Loudin made a basket and a free throw after being fouled and Ryan Hurst knocked down an off-balance jumper at the third-quarter buzzer to put the Bucs up 10, at 42-32, heading into the final quarter.
Antonio Renzelli made a three-pointer for Bridgeport making it a five-point game, at 44-39, with 4:44 remaining in the contest, but it was as close as the Indians would get the rest of the way.
Walker responded with a trey and Keith put in a lay-up giving the Bucs a 49-39 lead with 3:50 remaining.
Up 49-41, the Bucs began to pull away from the Indians with a 6-0 run after two free throws from Ryan Hurst, a lay-up by Keith and two more free throws by Ryan Hurst as that made it a 55-41 contest with 1:58 left.
Bridgeport closed it to 12 points, at 59-47, with 32 seconds remaining, but Lamar Hurst made two free throws and then put an exclamation point on the win with an alley-oop dunk on a feed from Ryan Hurst to end the game.
The Bucs came into the game playing a pair of top 10 teams last week in South Charleston while Bridgeport elected to go the other route and didn’t play a single game in the last 11 days.
“We took a gamble at the end of the season playing those teams,” stated Foster. “Win or lose we were seeing high caliber teams to prepare for this game to get to the next one. We worked too hard to go home early.”
The Bucs put four players in double digits as Ryan Hurst scored 16, Lamar Hurst made 14, Loudin put in 11 and Walker added 10.
Keith, making just his fourth start of the year, scored six points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out two assists.
“Keith is one of the guys that hasn’t had a lot of minutes this year,” noted Foster. “He really has come on the past two or three games. He plays within himself and doesn’t try to do too much.”
The Bucs (12-6) will now visit University tonight for the sectional crown at 7 p.m.
The Hawks defeated Preston to advance to the sectional title game.
“We are just going to keep battling,” concluded Foster. “Our team is coming together so hopefully we can have a good showing Thursday.”
University won the two teams only meeting this year by a 58-55 score back on March 30.
Bridgeport 11 9 12 15 – 47
Buck.-Upshur 18 12 12 21 – 63
Jack Bifano 6-16 2-5 16; Connor Messe 3-8 0-0 9; Mitchell Duez 3-11 2-2 8; Thomas Ayoob 2-4 0-0 4; Jaden Haywood 1-8 1-2 4; Anthony Spatafore 1-3 0-0 3; Gavin Tichenor 1-1 2; Antonio Renzelli 0-1 1-2 1. Totals 17-52 6-11 47.
Ryan Hurst 5-11 6-7 16; Lamar Hurst 6-11 2-2 14; Josh Loudin 5-6 1-1 11; Harrison Walker 3-6 2-4 10; Noam Keith 3-3 0-0 6; Zach White 2-4 0-2 4; Will McCauley 1-1 0-0 2; Sterlin Thropp 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-42 11-16 63.
Three-point field goals – Bridgeport: Meese 3-8; Bifano 2-6; Spatafore 1-3; Haywood 1-5; Ayboob 0-1; Duez 0-4. Totals 7-27; Buckhannon-Upshur: Walker 2-3; R. Hurst 0-2. Totals 2-5.
Rebounds – Bridgeport: Bifano 8; team 4; deadball 3; Haywood 3; Duez 2; Renzelli 2; Ayoob 2; Spatafore 1. Totals 25; Buckhannon-Upshur: L. Hurst 8; R. Hurst 6; Walker 5; Loudin 5; team 4; McCauley 3; Keith 3; White 2; deadball 1. Totals 37.
Assists – Bridgeport: Duez 3; Messe 2; Bifano 1; Renzelli 1; Haywood 1; Spatafore 1, Ayoob 1. Totals 10; Buckhannon-Upshur: R. Hurst 5; Walker 2; Keith 2; McCauley 1; Loudin 1. Totals 11.
Steals – Bridgeport: Bifano 3; Haywood 2; Spatafore 2; Duez 1; Renzelli 1. Totals 9; Buckhannon-Upshur: R. Hurst 2; L. Hurst 1; Walker 1. Totals 4.
Blocked shots – Bridgeport: Bifano 1. Totals 1; Buckhannon-Upshur: Loudin 2. Totals 2.
Turnovers – Bridgeport: 7; Buckhannon-Upshur: 14.
Personal fouls – Bridgeport: 17; Buckhannon-Upshur: 14.