Valiant Rallies

ELKINS – The second night of action of Elkins Holiday Classic held at the Richard P. Simmons Gymnasium featured two second-half comeback attempts, one successful and one not.

A valiant rally by Elkins fell short in a 76-66 setback to Class A, No. 7 Tucker County on Saturday night, while Tygarts Valley overcame a halftime deficit to knock off Philip Barbour, 63-48, in the opener.

In the nightcap, the Tigers (4-1) went up 9-7 early in the first stanza, but the Mountain Lions ripped off nine points in a row as part of a 12-2 run.

With Ian Nichols leading the way, Tucker County (5-1) was able to do virtually everything it wanted on the offensive end.

Whether it was a short jumper, a layup or a deep 3-point attempt, the Mountain Lions scored on nearly all their trips down the floor, torching the Elkins defense.

Meanwhile, the Tigers were ice cold from the field and missed their free throws as well. Tucker County was able to take a 23-15 first-quarter lead and extend the advantage to 42-25 at halftime.

Elkins ratcheted up the intensity of its full-court press after intermission and started to create some turnovers.

Slowly, the hosts started to crawl back into the game and came within 10 points at 52-42 with 1:09 left in the third.

The Tigers could have cut into the lead earlier, but missed opportunities around the basket, along with poor free-throw shooting became common.

With Tucker County up by 11 at 58-49, Elkins’ Colby Gainer and Logan Phillips hit on three straight shots from behind the arc to pull the Tigers to within two. Phillips had 24 points on the night, while Gainer hit for 16.

The ensuing inbounds pass was stolen, but Elkins could not convert on a layup that would have tied the game.

That was as close as the Tigers would come.

Austin Zirk scored off a missed 3-point attempt to push the Mountain Lion lead up to six, and Nichols later extended the margin to 10 with 1:20 showing on the clock.

Elkins was forced to foul from that juncture but Tucker County converted from the line to pull away from the 10-point victory.

“We played about as well as we can in the first half,” Mountain Lion coach Tom Gutshall said.

“In the third quarter, we made some bad decisions but we knew (Elkins) would make a run.”

Elkins coach John Lawson was pleased with how his team bounced back from an early deficit.

“Tucker had a really good start and I think they only missed one shot in the first quarter,” Lawson said. “I was proud that we played hard, climbed out of a hole and gave ourselves a chance.

“This loss doesn’t end our season. Tucker is a good team, like always, and they are well coached.”

Nichols had a huge game for the Mountain Lions with 30 points and eight rebounds. Austin Zirk finished with 14 points and Owen Evans added 10. Derek Zirk pulled down 12 boards.

Tyler Shreve added 20 points for the Tigers.

The visitors shot 16 of 20 from the line while Elkins was only 6 of 16 on their free throws. Tucker also held a 30-18 advantage on the boards.

Each coach thought the Holiday Classic was a good time, citing the large crowds and the boisterous support.

In the first game, the Bulldog’s Jace Kyle and the Colts’ Trevor Matko each paced their teams to a 12-all tie at the end of the first quarter, and Kyle hit his third trey of the game to give TV the lead in the second.

PB’s Caleb Hawkins answered with an old-fashioned three and Al Johnson gave the Colts their first lead after a free throw and a putback.

The Bulldogs (4-2) kept it close but Philip Barbour’s aggressive press defense led to Johnson scoring on a couple of quick layups, and then Hawkins was fouled with one-tenth of a second remaining in the half.

He hit both of his free throws to give the Colts a 30-26 halftime lead.

Philip Barbour got a bucket right off the bat after intermission to go up by six points, but then Tygarts Valley, led by Ben Sycafoose, reeled off 18 points in a row.

The Bulldogs were quicker up and down the floor in the third quarter and their shots started to fall with regularity.

Matko stopped the streak with a three to end the stanza, and the Colts scored the first five points of the fourth period to get back within four at 44-40.

Tyler Shiflett pushed TV’s advantage back up to 10 with 3:20 left, and the Bulldogs were able to retain control by hitting their free throws down the stretch, eventually pulling away for the 15-point win at game’s end.

“We didn’t really say much, we just made an adjustment on offense,” Tygarts Valley coach Tom Wamsley said of his halftime chat.

“I was really proud of our kids in the fourth quarter, Philip Barbour came back but we played well under pressure.”

Colts coach Marcus Johnson said mistakes after intermission hurt is squad.

“We did what we wanted in the first half and I liked our press defense,” he said. “But we came out dead in the second half. They had more intensity and we helped them out with some unforced turnovers.”

The Bulldogs had three players reach double figures in the game. Sycafoose led with 17 points, while Kyle and Shiflett put up 16 and 12, respectively.

For the 2-6 Colts, Matko finished with 16 points, followed by Chris Neville with eight and Johnson with seven.

All teams are off until Friday when Elkins will visit Lewis County, Tucker County entertains Notre Dame, Tygarts Valley travels to Harman and Philip Barbour ventures to Robert C. Byrd