Gallery by Tina Laney
White Sulphur Springs – The new year has not been kind to the Greenbrier East boys basketball team.
Saturday afternoon in the consolation game of the Battle for the Springhouse, Shady Spring added to the Spartan misery.
Coming off just its third loss of the season to Class AAAA Huntington Friday night, the Tigers turned up the defense on East to bring home a 66-43 win.
“It was a solid bounce back win for us. We had a solid defensive effort,” Shady Spring head coach Ronnie Olson said. “There was no game plan on the board. It was about getting back to who we are. This last week we haven’t been a defensive team and it is uncharacteristic. It is pretty simple, do your job and do what we have built our program on.”
“Take responsibility for your area and guard your man.,” Olson went onto say. “We did that tonight and did a good job on the defensive end. We got away from who we are. You have to have an identity and we haven’t had one lately. Today we did that against a pretty good team.”
Shady Spring scored the first four points of the game before East ran off five straight, capped by a conventional 3-point play from Layne Lambert.
The lead was brief, however, as the Tigers exploded on an 11-0 run and eventually lead by 20-9 after one quarter.
Back-to-back buckets from Jack Williams and Ammar Maxwell advanced the lead to 15 in the first minute of the second period, but a third foul on Maxwell sent him to the bench for the final 7:03 of the first half.
Shady Spring never wavered and kept the pedal to the metal.
Following a pair of made free-throws from Jacob Tomlinson for East, the Tigers built a 22-point lead midway through the second period.
Two makes from the charity stripe by Brody Radford, a triple from Jalon Bailey and two buckets from Williams keyed a 9-0 run to build the lead.
“We have done that a couple of times this year,” Olson said about playing with Maxwell in foul trouble. “Those guys just keep on playing and it was about the defensive end. You haven’t heard that from me in over a week because we have refused to defend. Our direction and plan is to be a defensive team. They took pride in that today.”
A basket from Peyton Dehaven snapped the run, but prior to that basket, East had only manage two made shots in 17 attempts.
The Spartans trimmed the lead back to 17 points at the break and moved within 15 after a left-handed scoop shot from Dehaven made it a 35-20 game to open the second half.
Shady pushed the lead back to 20 points before East made it best charge of the game.
Two hard takes to the basket from senior Gabe Patton, a stickback from Brody Hamric and a hoop from Nathan Dixon pulled the Spartans within 12 points with 2:49 left in the third stanza.
The momentum was short-lived.
A steal and a layup turned into a 3-point play by Bailey which was followed by a basket from Maxwell. A jumper in the lane from Bailey gave the Tigers a 47-28 lead with eight minutes to play.
Shady Spring’s ability to get to the rim and score in the lane was a difference maker Saturday afternoon.
“Our offense is set up for that. We didn’t want to settle for 3’s. Guys moved off the offense well,” Olson said. “We had good spacing. Last night against Huntington we did a good job going down hill. They were a little bigger and could deflect and block some shots. We didn’t sway from that and came right back to it today.”
The points surrendered in the paint was frustrating for Greenbrier East head coach Jared Patton.
“One thing we stress is to protect the paint and not give up the middle. Some of our guys are opening up,” Patton lamented. “We want to drive things away from the middle and we can’t get anyone to step up on the baseline and take a charge. It’s there. They probably scored 20 points off of us not stepping up and taking a charge. It is stuff we have to keep working on.”
The Spartans could get no closer than 17 points during the final quarter.
“It is tough to come back this quick from a game that you felt like you should win,” Olson said about the Huntington setback Friday. “There was no letdown and that shows the character of a good team.”
The loss for Greenbrier East, who will face Shady Spring again Friday in Fairlea, was its ninth in a row.
“We got our effort back today. Our effort took a dip there about mid-season, but we just have to execute. We will do some good things and then turn around a do some not-so-good things,” Patton said. “It is frustrating from a coaches standpoint because we do go over stuff a ton. We will continue to support these guys and go over it. I can’t wait until it clicks and we get it going. We showed some signs tonight, but the turnovers were costly and they just killed us.”
GE: 9 9 10 15 – 43
SS: 20 15 12 19 – 66
Brody Hamric 9, Peyton Dehaven 7, Nathan Dixon 4, Gabe Patton 7, Layne Lambert 7, Brayley Godfrey 2, Jacob Tomlinson 7.
Jack Williams 13, Ammar Maxwell 23, Brady Radford 7, Gavin Davis 8, Rob Lynch 1, Jalon Baiuley 12, Braedy Johnston 2.