TENNERTON – Sophomore Jaden Westfall had a career-high 22 points and added five rebounds, but the short-handed Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers dropped their regular-season finale in a home contest to the Class AAAA No. 5-ranked South Charleston Black Eagles Wednesday night.
The Bucs dropped a 75-48 decision.
Westfall has played superbly since being inserted into the starting line-up a couple of weeks ago, hitting the 20-point mark in two of his last three games.
“Jaden is playing really well right now,” Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Travis Foster said. “He is really learning where to be on the court. With Lamar Hurst getting so much attention from opposing defenses, he is finding that open space underneath. We are seeing him make consecutive plays on offense, sprinting to get ahead of the defense. That is being a basketball player. That is a grit that a lot of players don’t have. He is getting better all the way around.”
The Bucs were without starters Harrison Walker, who continues to rehab from a leg injury suffered back in early January, and point guard Zach Calef-Boring, who has been playing on a sprained ankle.
“We are just trying to hang on right now,” Foster said. “We didn’t want to risk any more injuries tonight with the sectional tournament coming up next week. We have also been without Taiwo Thropp for almost the entire season.”
Despite the lopsided score, Foster said he was encouraged by the effort his Bucs gave tonight, something that has frustrated him the last couple of weeks with their play.
“I think we are getting better at this point, I really do,” remarked Foster. “The score tonight didn’t mean a whole lot. I saw movement from our offense tonight, and we were certainly better in that regard than we were the last couple of weeks. That makes us so much better of a team when we are moving without the ball. We had a group of guys on the floor tonight that moved the ball and that is a really good thing. We just need to minimize our unforced turnovers. We are getting killed on that right now.”
The Bucs committed 24 turnovers in the game.
Buckhannon-Upshur trailed early by an 8-4 score but went on an 11-3 run capped off by an old-fashioned three-point play by Hurst for a 15-11 lead.
B-U went into the second quarter up 15-12.
An inside basket by Westfall kept B-U ahead by one, at 19-18, but South Charleston scored the next eight points, taking a 26-19 lead with 3:53 left in the half.
Carter Zuliani ended the South Charleston run for the Bucs, making it a 26-21 contest, but the Black Eagles took a 33-26 advantage into the break.
Things fell apart for the Bucs in the third quarter getting outscored by a 23-4 margin. Their only offense was a basket by Ian Strader and a pair of free throws from Westfall.
The Bucs went into the final quarter down 56-30.
Hurst started the fourth quarter with a jumper making it a 56-32 game, but the Bucs couldn’t get any closer than that 24-point deficit. The Bucs trailed by as many as 30 in the fourth quarter before outscoring South Charleston by a 10-7 margin in the final four minutes of the contest.
Bryson Smith led South Charleston with 17 points, while Wayne Harris added 16 as the Black Eagles improved to 17-5 on the season.
Trailing Westfall in the scoring column for the Bucs was Hurst with 12 points.
Foster and his Bucs (9-13) will have a week to rest and recover before hosting the Bridgeport Indians on Tuesday in their opener of the Region 1, Section 2 tournament with the game tipping off at 7 p.m.
“We need some rest in the worst way,” Foster said. “It seems like every team we have played of late is in the top 10. When we are beat up like we are, we just don’t have that much depth. That makes it hard and frustrating. I think we are certainly battle-tested after playing the schedule that we did.”
The Bucs have played the fifth-toughest schedule to date in all classes, according to the latest West Virginia Metro News Power Index strength of schedule standings.
“It hasn’t been easy dealing with our injuries and our tough schedule,” concluded Foster. “I think when the kids look back, they will realize how tough they have been through everything. They are warriors to make it through the unknown adversity that we have faced this season.”
South Charleston 12 21 23 19 – 75
Buckhannon-Upshur 15 11 4 18 – 48
South Charleston 75
Bryson Smith 6-12 0-0 17; Wayne Harris 6-12 3-5 16; Mondrell Dean 6-11 0-0 13; Xavier Bausley 3-3 2-2 8; Cayden Faucett 3-9 0-0 8; Zavian Murray 3-4 0-2 6; Jamari Tubbs 2-4 1-1 5; Connor Hughes 1-2 0-1 2; Christian Goebel 0-3 0-0 0; Joshua Given 0-1 0-0 0; Tylik Tinsley 0-0 0-0 0; Roman Kellum 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 30-61 6-11 75.
Jaden Westfall 9-11 4-4 22; Lamar Hurst 4-17 4-5 12; Sterlin Thropp 1-4 2-2 4; Ian Strader 2-5 0-1 3; Shawn Blandino 0-3 2-4 2; Carter Zuliani 1-2 0-2 2; Oliver King 1-1 0-2 2; Jevon Westfall 0-1 0-1 0; Luke Yardley 0-0 0-0 0; Nathaniel Ringer 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-44 12-21 48.
Three-point field goals – South Charleston: Smith 5-9; Faucett 2-6; Harris 1-2; Dean 1-2; Tubbs 0-1; Given 0-1; Tinsley 0-1; Goebel 0-2. Totals 9-24; Buckhannon-Upshur: Hurst 0-5; Thropp 0-2; Strader 0-1. Totals 0-8.
Rebounds – South Charleston: Dean 8; Smith 7; team 4; Harris 4; Goebel 3; deadball 2; Tubbs 1; Faucett 1; Murray 1. Totals 31; Buckhannon-Upshur: Hurst 6; King 6; Strader 5; Jad. Westfall 5; Thropp 4; Zuliani 4; deadball 3; team 2; Blandino 2; Yardley 2; Jev. Westfall 1. Totals 40.
Assists – South Charleston: Harris 9; Faucett 3; Dean 3; Murray 2; Tubbs 1; Given 1; Smith 1. Totals 20; Buckhannon-Upshur: Hurst 3; Thropp 2; King 2; Strader 2; Jad. Westfall 1. Totals 10.
Steals – South Charleston: Harris 4; Murray 3; Smith 3; Tubbs 2; Given 1; Goebel 1; Dean 1. Totals 15; Buckhannon-Upshur: Blandino 1; Hurst 1; Jad. Westfall 1; Strader 1. Totals 4.
Blocked shots – South Charleston: Tubbs 1; Smith 1 Goebert 1. Totals 3; Buckhannon-Upshur: Strader 1. Totals 1.
Turnovers – South Charleston: 11; Buckhannon-Upshur: 24.
Personal fouls – South Charleston: 18; Buckhannon-Upshur: 13.