Tigers, Tucker take wins

ELKINS – Tucker County had little trouble in defeating Philip Barbour by 64-38, and Elkins posted a comfortable 78-35 victory over county rival Tygarts Valley in first night play of the Elkins Holiday Classic Friday night at Richard P. Simmons Memorial Gymnasium.

The Class A, seventh-ranked Mountain Lions (4-1) used a 20-point performance by Austin Zirk in the first half, and had a 24-3 run that spanned the first and second quarters to end the competitive portion of this game early.

With the teams tied at 5-all, Tucker County began to show its dominance on the glass, getting extra shots when Zirk wasn’t burying 3-pointers and keeping the Colts to one shot and out.

The Mountain Lions had their first 10-point lead at 17-7 with 2:39 left in the first quarter, and extended that to 29-8 before Philip Barbour’s Caleb Hawkins hit a trey to lift the Colts (2-5) into double digits, 29-11, with two minutes gone in the second quarter.

Just for good measure, Tucker County closed out the second with a 12-3 run for a 41-14 halftime lead.

The Colts’ struggles continued in the second half, which led to layups and trips to the foul line for the Mountain Lions, whose lead increased to 54-24 after three quarters.

“We played a good first half, but not very well in the second,” Tucker County coach Tom Gutshall said. “I know we had a lead, but good teams don’t lose focus.”

Zirk had 26 points total for the victors, while Ian Nichols finished the night with 17 points.

In the nightcap, the visiting Bulldogs (3-2) had trouble keeping up with Elkins’ backcourt players and after an initial 4-4 tie, the hosts erupted with a 19-3 run for a 23-7 lead at 6:33 of the second quarter. That run included an incredible behind-the- back layup by Logan Phillips.

The Tigers (4-0) struggled early from beyond the arc before Braden Hammond’s and Morgan Kelly’s long-range shots began to fall, and Elkins had its first 20-plus point lead at 32-11.

Phillips scored a few more times on putbacks and the Tigers took a 38-12 advantage into the intermission.

Elkins extinguished any hope the Bulldogs might have had when it started the third stanza on a 12-0 run. TV’s Jace Kyle stopped the streak with a bucket with 4:45 to go in the third.

The teams went back-and-forth a few minutes after that, but with 1:09 left in the quarter, Kelly drove in on a layup and gave the hosts a 41-point lead.

Elkins coach John Lawson pulled all of his starters off the floor in the fourth and coasted to the 78-35 final score.

Phillips, who is averaging 24 points per game this season, again led the way for Elkins with 18 points. Hammond and Kelly each finished with 11 points and reserve Linkoln Barger put up eight.

Tyler Shiflett was the Bulldogs’ leading scorer with 13 points, followed by Kyle with seven.

Lawson said he was “pleased with most of the game.”

“We were able to establish ourselves early,” he said. “I don’t think they were used to our style of play. We missed some shots early on but I wasn’t overly worried because the way we play, we’re going to have runs.”

Elkins (4-0) will meet Tucker County (4-1) at approximately 7:30 p.m. today, while Philip Barbour (2-5) and Tygarts Valley (3-2) will battle at 5:45 p.m.

Lawson said of the Mountain Lions, “They’re very tall; we’re going to have to defend well and concentrate on rebounds.”

“Elkins is very quick and very talented,” added Gutshall. “So we’ll see what happens. I think it should be a good game.”