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Malaki Williams (11) had a double-double for Buckhannon-Upshur with 15 points and 10 rebounds in their 55-46 win over Lewis County Wednesday night.(Bobbie Hatcher/My Buckhannon

Zuliani and Williams post double-doubles as Bucs earn 55-46 win over Lewis County

TENNERTON – Carter Zuliani had a double-double with a game-high 21 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers to a 55-46 win over the Class AAA No. 5 Lewis County Minutemen in Big 10 Conference action Wednesday night in front of a nearly full gym at the high school.

Zuliani was coming off his worst scoring game of the year with one point (and 10 rebounds) in limited minutes dealing with foul trouble in a win Tuesday against Ripley in the Par Mar Shootout.

“I had been in a slump the last couple of games, so I knew I had to step it up for the Lewis County game,” remarked Zuliani. “Lewis County is a top five team and it’s a rivalry game. I knew that not only I, but the entire team, needed to step up for this game. We just need to finish our season out getting up for our last five games like we did for Lewis County tonight. If we can play like we did tonight, we will win some more games against some good opponents coming up.”

The Bucs avenged a 47-44 road loss to Lewis County back on Dec. 18.

“Lewis County came in here with the intent of sweeping us, so we had a lot to play for,” stated Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Jason Westfall. “We did not play our best ball over there and a lot of that had to do with them. That was two months ago though, we are a whole different team now. We have grown and developed since then. I felt the things that Lewis County capitalized on in that first game, we have improved upon.”

The Bucs came out of the gate a little slow playing their second game in two days falling behind by a 6-2 score before Jerin Westfall knocked down a three-pointer making it a 6-5 game with 4:47 showing on the first-quarter clock.

Lewis County ended the quarter on a 7-2 run putting the Bucs down by a 13-7 score heading into the second quarter.

“The unfortunate truth is we are a team that doesn’t start well,” noted Westfall. “I thought we waited a little too long to settle in. We didn’t like how those first eight minutes played out. I am glad with how the team responded to being down in the first quarter. This is veteran team, and they will always fight back.”

Down 15-7, the Bucs went on an 11-2 run that was capped off by two Malaki Williams lay-ups that gave them an 18-17 advantage with 4:04 remaining in the half.

Williams scored on a putback, and Zuliani drained two free throws giving the Bucs a 24-20 advantage with 90 seconds left in the half.

The Bucs never gave up the lead again as Zuliani put in the final four points of the quarter treating the Bucs to a  27-22 lead at the half.

A pair of lay-ups from Zuliani and Ian Strader put the Bucs up 34-24 three minutes into the third quarter, but Lewis County answered with an 11-1 run lowering the B-U lead down to just one, at 35-34, with a minute left in the quarter.

Buckhannon-Upshur still led by one going into the final quarter, at 37-36.

Jaden Westfall turned in an old-fashioned three-pointer putting the Bucs up 40-36 just 17 seconds into the fourth quarter.

A three-pointer from Lewis County’s Ben Putnam pulled the Minutemen to within one again, at 43-42, with 5:24 left to play but the Bucs didn’t let Lewis County get any closer.

Williams went on his very own personal 5-0 run to extend the B-U lead to 48-42 with 4:29 remaining.

The Bucs pushed their lead to eight after a Zuliani free throw at 52-44 with 1:55 remaining.

B-U iced the game away at the free throw line in the final 30 seconds.

“I appreciate the community coming out and packing the gym,” said coach Westfall. “We want the community to feel good about what we are doing. We want them to be proud of the product and the product is some hard-nosed basketball that plays good defense. This is a big rivalry, and everyone knows that when we play Lewis County. Lewis County was motivated to come over here and beat us, but I felt like we played a composed game, and we are proud to get the win for the community.”

Williams joined Zuliani with a double-double for the game with 15 points and 10 rebounds. Jerin Westfall added seven points and seven rebounds.

Putnam led Lewis County with 20 points.

Lewis County dropped to 12-7 overall and 7-4 in the Big 10 Conference

Buckhannon-Upshur improved to 12-5 overall and 7-4 in the Big 10 Conference.

The Bucs will return to the court Friday at Elkins in a conference game with a start time of 7:30 p.m.

It will be the final regular season road game for the Bucs as they end the year with four straight home games.

The boxscore:

Lewis County  13  9  14  10 – 46

Buckhannon-Upshur  7  20  10  18 – 55

Lewis County 46

Ben Putnam 8-18 3-7 20; Pason Kelley 4-7 1-1 9; Tanner Griffith 3-9 2-4 8; Manny Robinson 2-6 2-3 6; Bryant Zielinski 1-4 0-0 3; Caleb McKee 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 18-44 8-15 46.

Buckhannon-Upshur 55

Cater Zuliani 7-13 7-13 21; Malaki Williams 7-8 1-4 15; Jerin Westfall 2-8 1-2 7; Ian Strader 2-16 0-0 5; Jaden Westfall 2-4 1-2 5; Bryson Johnston 0-0 2-2 2; Jevon Westfall 0-2 0-0 0; Nathaniel Ringer 0-1 0-0 0. Totals 20-52 12-25 55.

Three-point field goals – Lewis County: Putnam 1-4; Zielinski 1-3; Robinson 0-2; Griffith 0-4; Totals 2-13 Buckhannon-Upshur: Jerin Westfall 2-8; Strader 1-7; Ringer 0-1; Jevon Westfall 0-1; Totals 3-17.

Rebounds – Lewis County: Kelley 7; Putnam 5; Griffith 4; Robinson 3; team 3; deadball 3; Zielinski 3. Totals 28; Buckhannon-Upshur: Zuliani 16; Williams 10; Strader 7; Jerin Westfall 7; deadball 6; Jaden Westfall 3; Johnston 1. Totals 50.

Assists – Lewis County: Zielinski 3; Griffith 1; Putnam 1; Robinson 1. Totals 6; Buckhannon-Upshur: Strader 4; Jaden Westfall 2; Ringer 1. Totals 7.

Steals – Lewis County: Griffith 2;  Putnam 2; Kelley 1; Robinson 1; Zielinski 1. Totals 7; Buckhannon-Upshur: Ringer 1; Jaden Westfall 1;  Williams 1. Totals 3.

Blocked shots – Lewis County: Kelley 1; Putnam 1. Totals 2; Buckhannon-Upshur: Jaden Westfall 2; Williams 1; Zuliani 1 . Totals 4.

Turnovers – Lewis County: 4; Buckhannon-Upahur: 8.

Fouls – Lewis County: 15; Buckhannon-Upshur: 14.

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