CLARKSBURG — Coming off losses in games against both Parkersburg and Hampshire and cancellations of their scheduled games against both North Marion and Grafton, the Buckhannon-Upshur High School boys’ varsity basketball team (4-4) hit a pivotal moment in the season. On Wednesday, January 12 the Bucs were back in action and finally had a chance to snap their two-game losing skid as they traveled North to Harrison County to take on the Liberty Mountaineers (1-6).
The Bucs wasted no time getting to work offensively, winning the tip and scoring on their first possession. Lamar Hurst netted the game’s opening basket on a layup. In all, the game’s first quarter was a back-and-forth affair, featuring three early lead changes. The Mountaineers clung to a narrow 1-point, 8-7 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Liberty came out firing to start off the second quarter, hitting a long mid-range jumper to build on their lead, but Hurst responded by finishing through contact on the other end to cut the Bucs’ deficit to one. Zach-Calef Boring hit a catch-and-shot mid-range jumper a few possessions later to put B-U back in the league. The game maintained this pace, with each team trading buckets as if they were prize fighters trading body blows. Going into the locker-room for halftime, the B-U boys held a 4-point, 26-22 advantage.
The defensive adjustments made by both coaches at halftime dictated the third quarter. The game evolved from hotly contested shootout to a defensive struggle after the break. Neither team scored a field goal for nearly 3 minutes and 30 seconds. The first bucket of the third quarter came as a floater from Hurst with 4:31 left in the period. Liberty finally got on the board 2 minutes later, scoring their only points of the quarter off a layup, after going nearly 6 full minutes without a bucket. The Bucs’ outstanding defensive effort really helped them build a nice run, outscoring the Mountaineers 9-2 in the third. At the end of the third, the Bucs held an 11-point, 35-24 lead over the Mountaineers.
Liberty gave their best effort in the fourth quarter to get the game back within striking distance, ultimately being unsuccessful. Mason Hyre came up with a big fourth quarter, scoring 9 points down the stretch. With the game in hand, the Bucs gave their bench players some experience, preparing them for the future. In the end, the boys cruised in the fourth quarter to close out the 57-36 win.
Senior forward Lamar Hurst led the Bucs in scoring with 17 points, on 7 2-point field goals and 3-6 shooting from the free throw line. Hurst was a versatile offensive force for the Bucs, often making plays by attacking the basket off the bounce. Hurst also recorded 7 rebounds, a steal and a block, putting together a solid, well-rounded stat-line.
Junior point guard Zach-Calef Boring was the team’s second leading scorer with 13 points on 2 made 2-point field goals, 2 made 3-point field goals, and 3-4 shooting from the free throw line. Boring was efficient running the Bucs offense, taking care of the ball, and choosing his spots wisely.
Smooth senior combo guard Mason Hyre was the third Buc that scored in double figures, finishing the night with 12 points, on 3 made 2-point field goals, a single made 3-point field goal, and a 1-2 mark from the free throw line. Hyre came up big in the fourth quarter, scoring 9 of the Bucs 21 points in the period.
Lockdown defensive senior guard Sterlin Thropp was quiet tonight, only netting a single 2-point field goal after exploding for 16 points in the Bucs last game against Hampshire.
Sophomore forward Jaden Westfall scored all 6 of his points around the basket, consistently being a threat off the cut, catch, and finish or to score a put back off of an offensive rebound.
Sophomore forward Ian Strader is perhaps one of the top glue guys in the Big 10 Conference, playing at a high-level in almost any role asked of him. In Wednesday night’s game, Strader finished the game with 4 points on 2 made 2-point field goals.
The future of Buccaneer basketball was on display late in the game, as two junior varsity regulars stole the show in the fourth quarter. Luke Yardley took advantage of his opportunity to play varsity minutes for Foster’s Bucs late in the game against Liberty, being aggressive, getting to the free throw line, and knocking down both his attempts to end the night with 2 points; while freshman Carter Zuliani found his way on the stat sheet after splitting a pair of free throws late in the fourth quarter to finish with 1 point to round out the scoring for the Bucs varsity team.