TENNERTON — The Buckhannon Upshur High School varsity Buccaneers (6-6) were back in action Monday, January 31, hosting the East Fairmont Bees (6-4) for a Big 10 Conference match-up. After suffering a string of tough losses in his absence, the Bucs received a boost in the days leading up to the game with the return of senior guard Harrison Walker, who had been out due to an injury suffered in the Bucs’ loss against Hampshire back on Monday, January 3.
These two seemingly even matched teams went back-and-forth in an exciting opening quarter. Senior combo guard Mason Hyre hit a shot from beyond the arc in the waning minutes of the opening period to even things out in a 9-9 tie going into the second quarter.
In the second, the Bucs went cold from the field, only managing 4 points. Two players not typically known for their scoring prowess, forwards senior Oliver King and junior Shawn Blandino kept the Bucs afloat by combining to score the team’s only 4 points in the second. After getting outscored 10-4, the Bucs entered the locker-room down 19-13.
At halftime, head coach Travis Foster made the right adjustments for the team’s offensive game plan as the Bucs rebounded from a tough 4-point second quarter with a 16-point third period. Hyre and Walker combined to score 11 of the team’s 16 points in the period, netting 6 and 5 points, respectively. With huge third quarters from their senior backcourt duo, the Bucs nearly erased their 6-point halftime deficit, cutting it 30-29 entering the fourth.
The Bucs entered the fourth quarter with momentum on their side but could not seem to pull out ahead of the Bees. The two teams scored 13 points apiece to close out the game. Senior forward Lamar Hurst exploded for 9 of the Bucs 13 total fourth quarter points. In the end, B-U could not do enough to overcome their rough second quarter, dropping the game by a final score of 43-42.
While he finished as the team’s leading scorer, Hurst was largely held in check by the Bees until the fourth quarter. The Bees defense made a collective effort to make it as difficult as possible for Hurst to catch the ball in the paint. East Fairmont opted to do this not by getting physical with him, as most teams have attempted to do, but by working to deny entry passes to Hurst from Buccaneer guards on the perimeter. Overcoming this defense style, Hurst scored 9 of his 13 points in the game’s final minute to close out the loss with a valiant effort. Against the Bees, Hurst did most of his damage from the field inside the 3-point arc, hitting 5 2-point field goals to go along with 3-6 (50%) shooting from the free throw line.
Offensively, Hyre was the most consistent scoring threat for the Bucs on the night. Hyre was the second Buccaneer to reach double-digit scoring numbers, finishing the game with 11 points. These points were comprised of 3 2-point field goals and a single 3-point field goal to go along with a perfect 2-2 (100%) mark from the free throw line, capping off an efficient night for the senior guard.
In his return, Walker started off slow, getting back into the flow of things and not forcing the issue in the first half. With his team struggling, Walker picked things up in terms of shot creation in the second half, scoring 7 points, hitting both a 2-point and 3-point field goal to go along with a perfect 2-2 (100%) shooting mark from the free throw line. Walker’s presence, leadership and shot-making ability sparked his team in the second half, nearly securing a comeback win.
Senior Oliver King played a pivotal role in the comeback attempt. Typically known more for his role as a glue guy and defensive stopper, King stepped up in a big way offensively for Foster’s Bucs. King scored 6 points, hitting 3 timely 2-point field goals to give the team’s struggling offense a major boost when it needed it the most.
Junior point guard Zach Calef-Boring had a quiet night offensively, scoring his lone 2 points on the night by hitting a lay-up in the game’s opening quarter. Much like Calef-Boring, junior forward Shawn Blandino had a quiet game on the offensive end, but did get in on the action, scoring 2 points in the game’s second quarter. Sophomore forward Ian Strader scored 1 point from the free throw line in the third quarter to round out the scoring numbers for the Bucs against East Fairmont.