TENNERTON – It took the Buckhannon-Upshur offense a few minutes to get going, as they missed their first five shots of the game and failed to score in the contest’s first three minutes against the Preston Knights in a Big 10 Conference game Tuesday night at the high school.
The Bucs continued to sputter, leading the winless Knights by just two points midway through the second quarter, at 22-20.
However, the Bucs were finally able to right the ship in the second half and rolled the Knights by a 78-54 score.
Despite the huge margin of victory, Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Travis Foster felt his team wasn’t as sharp as they could have been against the Knights.
“I thought we played to their talent level for a while, which was disappointing,” said Foster. “When you are trying to get the program to where, when you see a team you know that you are better than them, you want to come out and dominate, and we really didn’t do that in the first half.”
One of the things that irked Foster about his team’s performance was going just 17-of-34 at the free throw line.
“Missing 17 free throws is unacceptable,” noted Foster. “We should have scored 90 to 100 points in this game. Winning this game by the margin we did will be okay for some, but we have to get better in these type of games. These are the type of games where we have to put ourselves above teams like Preston and have some confidence going in.”
“We need to have some confidence and go in with the mindset that we are going to stomp these guys out before they take the floor, or else it leaves you as an average team,” he added. “We want to be better than an average team. We still haven’t put together four quarters yet.”
With an illness running through the team, Foster had to shuffle his starting line-up as Shawn Blandino and Ian Strader made their first starts of the season in place of Lamar Hurst and Mason Hyre.
Hurst was able to gut out 17 minutes and finished with 13 points and seven rebounds while Hyre was held scoreless in just three minutes of action as he was a game-time decision to play.
“We have had an illness run through our team pretty heavily,” stated Foster. “We tried to get Mason to go a little bit and Lamar struggled fatigue-wise. Our younger guys have been playing well anyways, so they were able to step up once again tonight and get more minutes under their belts.”
With the Bucs struggling early and the game tied at 4-4 with over four minutes gone in the opening quarter, Sterlin Thropp got the Bucs going with a three-pointer making it a 7-4 contest and Harrison Walker uncorked a three-pointer 30 seconds later treating B-U to a 10-6 lead. Walker finished the contest with a game-high 25 points.
Another Walker three upped the B-U lead to 15-8 with two minutes remaining in the first quarter, and they owned a 15-10 advantage heading into the second quarter.
Buckhannon-Upshur led just 22-20 with four minutes remaining in the second quarter, but Jaden Westfall made a free throw, Strader went into the paint for a lay-up, Walker hit a jumper and Hurst went inside for a basket to cap a 7-0 run, giving the Bucs a 29-20 lead.
Hurst hit a three-pointer at the first-half buzzer giving the Bucs a 32-23 advantage the break.
The Bucs, who have struggled at times in the third quarter this season, put the game out of reach in the third stanza outscoring the Knights by a 28-16 margin.
With B-U leading 43-30, they went on a 15-0 run staking them to a 58-30 lead with 1:54 left in the third.
They took a 60-39 advantage into the fourth quarter.
Their biggest lead of the fourth quarter ballooned to 27 points on two different occasions as they settled for the 24-point win.
Following Walker in the scoring column for the Bucs were Zach Calef-Boring and Hurst each with 13 apiece while Thropp tacked on 12.
Kaden Farrell led the Knights with 14 points, who fell to 0-4 on the year and 0-2 in the Big 10.
The Bucs improved to 3-1 on the season and 2-0 in the Big 10.
The Bucs will have little time to recover, as they play back-to-back games for the first time this season during their first road trip of the year to play Lewis County Wednesday at 7:30 p.m.
“Tonight was a sectional game and a must-win for us,” concluded Foster. “Tomorrow, we are playing at Lewis County and that is a must win. We have to play at a high level and not let Lewis County keep it close. Hopefully, we can go into our short holiday break at 4-1 and give the team some time to relax and recover.”
Preston 10 13 16 15 – 54
Buckhannon-Upshur 15 17 28 18 – 78
Kaden Farrell 5-13 4-6 14; Stephen Felton 5-9 2-3 8; Jacob Burns 4-8 0-0 10; Mason Sargent 3-9 2-3 8; Gabe Snyder 2-5 1-2 4; Daniel Long 2-2 0-1 4; Brier Manko 1-3 1-3 3; Trevor Thomas 0-1 0-0 0; Todd Fraley 0-1 0-0 0; Josh Stammier 0-0 0-0 0; Hayden Cecil 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 22-51 8-14 54.
Harrison Walker 8-13 7-11 25; Zach Calef-Boring 6-11 0-0 13; Lamar Hurst 6-9 0-3 13; Sterlin Thropp 3-6 5-8 12; Ian Strader 3-6 0-2 6; Shawn Blandino 2-5 1-4 5; Oliver King 0-1 3-4 3; Jaden Westfall 0-1 1-2 1; Mason Hyre 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 28-54 17-34 78.
Three-point field goals – Preston: Burns 2-3; Farrell 0-3; Felton 0-2; Thomas 0-1; Sargent 0-1; Snyder 0-1. Totals 2-11; Buckhannon-Upshur: Walker 2-4; Calef-Boring 1-3; Thropp 1-1; Hurst 1-1; Strader 0-2; Hyre 0-1. Totals 5-12.
Rebounds – Preston: team 9; Felton 7; Thomas 3; Sargent 3; Snyder 3; Burns 3; deadball 2; Farrell 2; Long 1. Totals 33; Buckhannon-Upshur: deadball 8; Hurst 7; Strader 7; Westfall 6; Thropp 4; Blandino 4; Calef-Boring 3; King 2; Walker 2; team 2. Totals 45.
Assists – Preston: Sargent 4; Manko 1; Farrell 1; Burns 1. Totals 7; Buckhannon-Upshur: Calef-Boring 4; Thropp 3; Hurst 2; Blandino 1; King 1; Walker 1; Westfall 1; Strader 1. Totals 14.
Steals – Preston: Thomas 2; Felton 1; Farrell 1; Fraley 1. Totals 5; Buckhannon-Upshur: Blandino 5; Thropp 2; Hurst 2; Westfall 2; Strader 2; King 1; Walker 1. Totals 15.
Blocked shots – Preston: Sargent 2; Felton 2; Snyder 1. Totals 5; Buckhannon-Upshur: None.
Turnovers – Preston: 22; Buckhannon-Upshur: 17.
Personal fouls – Preston: 26; Buckhannon-Upshur: 17.