Bucs wrap up busy week with rivalry win over Lewis County, senior send-off

#4 Sterlin Thropp elevates for a finger-roll-lay-up to finish a fast break during his 21-point, 6 steal outing against rival Lewis County. ROBERTA HATCHER/ The Record Delta

TENNERTON — The Buckhannon-Upshur High School varsity boys basketball team battled through a full slate of tough opponents last week, with 4 games in 7 days. Entering the season, the Bucs knew their schedule was backloaded, meaning they would be tasked with taking on some of the state’s traditional powerhouse basketball programs. As the season winds down, the pace and intensity of these games rise as teams begin to prepare for “win-or-go home” postseason basketball, so the Bucs would have to start fine-tuning their game in hopes of extending their season and making a run at the state tournament in Charleston. 

The Bucs kicked their week off with a trip to Farmington to play the North Marion Huskies on Valentine’s Day, Monday, February 14. The Bucs left Farmington empty-handed, losing to the Huskies by a final score of 64-51. 

Senior point guard/shooting guard Mason Hyre paced the Bucs offensively, scoring 13 in a valiant losing effort. Hyre is a very intelligent guard, who tailors his game based on what the defense gives him and what head coach Travis Foster needs from him. Sophomore forward Ian Strader was the only other Buc to reach the double-digit scoring mark finishing with 11 points. Strader’s scoring touch, length, tenacious defense and knack for pulling down tough, contested rebounds were instrumental in keeping the Bucs within striking distance for much of this game. 

Following the loss to North Marion, next up on the Bucs plate, was a game against a talented University squad at home on Wednesday, February 16. This game held massive sectional seeding implications for both teams, as the upcoming tournament’s top seed was still up for grabs. The Bucs never could get anything going offensively, only scoring 32 total points in a 42-point loss to the Hawks. The one lone bright spot for the Foster’s Bucs against University was the breakout of sophomore forward Jaden Westfall. The sophomore earned the start and restored Foster’s faith in him with a 10-point, 8 rebound performance: nearly registering a double-double. 

Coming fresh off a crucial game in which their effort just wasn’t there, the Bucs had no time to mope about the loss as they played host to their archrivals, the Lewis County Minutemen for the very next night, Thursday, February 17, for senior night. The Bucs honored the team’s 5 seniors for their contributions to the basketball program by trouncing the Minutemen by 27 points, winning by a final score of 60-33. Senior shooting guard Sterlin Thropp was a star on both sides of the ball on his senior night against the rival Minutemen, coming away with an impressive 6 steals to go along with a team-high 21 points. Thropp’s defensive effort sparked the Bucs offense by generating fast break touches, leading to easy buckets on the other end. While the senior night festivities were centered around the outgoing class of Thropp, Harrison Walker, Lamar Hurst, Mason Hyre and Oliver King; two up and coming underclassmen stars stole the show on the court. The sophomore duo of Strader and Westfall each played big roles in the rivalry game win. Strader recorded a double-double, scoring 13 points and pulling down a team-high 15 rebounds, while Westfall scored 16 points and pulled down 5 rebounds.

The Bucs had Friday to collect themselves before making the long trip to the state’s eastern panhandle to take on one of the state’s top-ranked teams, the undefeated Jefferson County Cougars. On the road in a hostile environment last Saturday, February 19; the Cougars proved too much for the Bucs, as coach Foster and his team came up short against another very tough opponent by a final score of 69-48. With the loss, the Bucs wrapped up a very challenging week with a 1-3 record, dropping their overall record to 9-11. B-U is set to play their final two regular season games both at home, against Grafton and South Charleston. They will then move on to the sectional tournament with their season on the line. 

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