By JONATHAN GREENE
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
The Bluefield Beavers knew they had a big showdown with Greenbrier East coming. They didn’t allow River View to be a stumbling block.
The Beavers raced out to a 26-0 lead before the Raiders scored as they cruised to an 85-19 victory on Thursday evening at the Brushfork Armory.
“Most importantly we didn’t get anyone hurt and everyone got to play,” Bluefield head coach Buster Large said. “We’ve got such a big game [Friday] at Greenbrier East. We had every intention of playing our kids the first two quarters, but it got so far out of hand. We try to show a lot of sportsmanship by example.
“I know they’re having a down year and I’ve never been one to try to beat someone as bad as you could. I think every one here respected that and knew our decision. …I would have liked to kept our starters in more, but due to the score, we felt like we should rest with tomorrow’s game.”
Bluefield’s starters were pulled less than two minutes into the second quarter as they led 32-4. They did not return as the Beavers bench completed the game and played well. Dakota Smalls led the way with 19 points and Mathew Woodrum grabbed 14 boards and scored 13 points. Jordan Ponder chipped in with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.
“I want to thank Bluefield especially the coaches for using the players they did for the last three quarters basically,” River View head coach Don Smith commented. “I wish them all the best. I don’t know if there is a team in the state that can beat them in AA. I haven’t seen any.”
Bluefield took advantage of their speed and the Raiders inability to score to open up a big lead in the first quarter. Four of the Beavers’ first six baskets came on the fastbreak.
Lykel Collier had two easy scores, Michael Yost added a slam dunk and D.J. Edwards had a lay-in and putback in the first few minutes.
Their led continued to grow by behind a three from Eades and two lay-ins from Corey Coppola. Collier converted a steal and free throw to make it 26-0 with just under two minutes left in the quarter.
Zach Morgan ended the run with a putback. The Raiders had only two field goals in the first eight minutes and turned the ball over six times and missed nine shots.
“We were tired after playing at Williamson last night,” Smith said. “We played a real hard game against Mingo Central. Tonight, we came out and Bluefield did what they do.
“They jumped out to a good lead early by making good shoots. We played two freshmen, two sophomore and some juniors. Our youth is showing.”
Yost and Eades opened the second with scores before the starters’ night was officially over with 6:23 showing on the clock. Bluefield’s bench came in and the Beavers didn’t miss a beat.
Smalls scored five straight points then Ponder drove to the hoop for a solid score. Taylor Dehaven hit Morgan for a jumper and Tony Clevinger finished the quarter with a putback, but Bluefield took a commanding 41-8 lead into the break.
“A game like this you can get a lot a different people in,” Large said. “You get a lot of people more time, development time. We still have a lot of sophomores on our team.
“They’re getting better. It’s going to make us a better ball team in the next two weeks. It’s nice to get this win out of the way. Tomorrow’s going to be a huge game for us.”
The Beavers outscored River View 26-3 in the third quarter. Their lone points came off a three by Clevinger.
Smalls hit two three’s and Woodrum scored nine of his 13 points in the quarter. Ponder added two fastbreak scores.
The lead grew to as many as 67 points the down stretch.
Eades finished with 11 points in limited action. Edwards had six points and six rebounds. Yost added seven points and Coppola had four points and seven boards.
Clevinger led River View with five points. Morgan, Dakota Collins and Jordan Wilson each had four points.
“We’ll go back to the drawing board and see what we can do,” Smith said. “We’ve got Mount View next so it’s same kind of team and style. At least tonight, we got against practice against. We’ll see if it helps us any.”
The Raiders (2-14) host Mount View tonight then play James Monroe on Saturday as part of a girls-boys doubleheader.
The Beavers (15-1) travel to top-5 ranked Greenbrier East (16-1) tonight. The Spartans are coming off a 70-59 victory over Mussleman in the Big Atlantic Classic AAA consolation game. They lost to Point Pleasant in the opener.
Bluefield took home the Big Atlantic Classic AA crown and is riding a No. 1 AP ranking and 13-game winning streak.
“I feel like it will be the toughest game we’ve had probably in the past three or four years,” Large said. “They’re extremely talented. They have two Division I players – the 6-11 center and Oak Hill transfer Rondale Watson. I understand both are being heavily recruited by a lot of Division I schools.
“It’s huge a challenge for us. It’s going to be a big atmosphere playing in front of a packed house. They feel like there won’t be a seat available. Games like that are going to make us better down the road.”
Large added, “That was one of my goals last year was to try to secure a real good AAA team on the schedule so that we can try to get better against good competition. We’ve played a rugged schedule this year, but tomorrow night will be our biggest challenge.”
At Brushfork Armory
RIVER VIEW (2-14)
Tony Clevinger 5, Taylor Dehaven 2, Zach Morgan 4, Dakota Collins 4, Jordan Wilson 4. Totals- 9 0-5 19.
Dakota Smalls 19, D.J. Edwards 6, Anthony Eades 11, Lykel Collier 4, Trevor Mullins 5, Michael Yost 7, Jordan Ponder 13, David Woodrum 3, Corey Coppola 4, Mathew Woodrum 13. Totals- 33 16-25 85.
River View..............................4 4 3 8 – 19
Bluefield...............................18 13 26 28 – 85
3 pt field goals: RV 1 (Clevinger), BLU 4 (Smalls 2, Eades, Yost).