TENNERTON — The Buckhannon- Upshur High School boys’ varsity basketball team (1-1) welcomed the Lincoln Cougars (0-0) to town for a Big 10 Conference showdown. The Bucs were looking to start their conference slate off on a positive note and get their season back on track following a tough outing in their last game against the #1-ranked team in the state, Morgantown Mohicans.
The Bucs wasted no time showing that there was no hangover from the loss against Morgantown, getting off to a scorching hot start. The Bucs’ upperclassmen came out firing on all cylinders on both sides of the ball, scoring at will while holding the Cougars to only 8 first quarter points with constant defensive pressure. Senior guard Mason Hyre hit two early threes on his way to scoring 8 first quarter points, matching the Cougars’ total as a team on the quarter. Senior forward Lamar Hurst showcased his soft touch early, both around the rim and in the mid-range game, netting 6 first quarter points. The Bucs led 21-8 going into the second, but the Cougars kept the game close with a strong second quarter. The Cougars seemed more at ease in the second period, slightly outscoring the Bucs, 19-17. The Bucs kept clicking offensively to fend off the Cougars going into halftime, leading 38-27.
The Bucs offense came to screeching to a halt in the third quarter, only managing 4 points, which allowed the Cougars to tie the game up going into the fourth quarter. The third quarter essentially acted as a 15-4 run in favor of the Cougars. The student section sprung to life in support of the Bucs at the start of the fourth. The home-court advantage seemed to have an effect as the Bucs’ energy level picked up. Sophomore forward, Ian Strader, stepped up down the stretch, scoring 5 points in the last 5 minutes. With his effort on defense and the boards, Strader showed why he is a pivotal part of the Bucs’ rotation. Lincoln had largely contained two of the Bucs’ top offensive threats in Hurst and fellow senior Harrison Walker since the first quarter, but both posted strong finishes to the game which proved to be enough for the Bucs to outlast Lincoln, winning 68-58.
This win came on the back of a balanced scoring attack, in which three Bucs reached double-digit scoring numbers. Hurst paced the Bucs in scoring, finishing the game with 19 points. Junior forward Shawn Blandino had his best game of the young season, scoring 11 points. Hyre fueled the Bucs’ hot start early, but the Cougars quickly keyed in on him defensively, holding him to only 2 points after the first quarter; in the end Hyre finished the game with 10 points. Walker, the Bucs’ leading scorer in the first two games, ended the night with 8 points. Strader, the Bucs hero down the stretch, finished the game with 8 points. Sophomore Jaden Westfall scored 6 points on an efficient night from the field, while senior Oliver King, junior Zach Calef-Boring, and senior Sterlin Thropp all chipped in two points apiece to round out the Bucs scoring on the evening.
The Bucs next test will come on Tuesday, December 21 when they play host to Preston Knights and try to improve to 3-1. The game is slated to tip-off at 7:30 pm.