Gallery by Karen Akers
Less than two weeks back inside the Brushfork Armory, Bluefield handed Shady Spring a 16-point setback.
Tuesday night inside Dave Wills Gym, the Tigers returned the favor.
Exploding on a 12-0 run in the first quarter, Shady Spring never allowed the Beavers back within single digits to take a 55-38 win.
“Big get-back for us. They embarrassed us at their place if you are being honest,” Shady Spring senior Ammar Maxwell said. “We had to come back and show them what we can do at our place and get the get-back.”
Shady Spring head coach Ronnie Olson echoed Maxwell’s words and reiterated the tussle inside Brushfork was still on the mind of the Tigers.
“It’s a good rivalry and we felt like we didn’t come out and play our style of basketball down there,” Olson said. “They came out more edgy and ready at Brushfork. I definitely felt like our guys were about some get-back or revenge if you will.”
“Our guys had this game circled because that is one of the worst losses we have taken in awhile,” Olson went on to say. “They handled us. We have no excuses. You have to play through the officiating. You have to play through the crowd. You have to play through missed shots and turnovers. We didn’t do a good job of that down there.”
With 4:20 to play in the opening quarter, the visitors held an 8-7 lead before the scoring dried up for the Beavers and Shady took advantage.
Jack Williams gave the home team the lead for good when he nailed a 3-pointer followed by a pair of free throws from Jalon Bailey.
Five straight points from Maxwell and a layup from Gavin Davis off of an assist from Braedy Johnston pushed the lead to double digits for the first at 19-8.
A basket from E.J. Washington stemmed the tide, but Bluefield did not score again until the 5:58 mark of the second quarter on a basket from Kam’Ron Gore.
Over that span, Shady Spring scored six points and the lead never fell below 11 points the rest of the game.
The Tigers led by 14 points at the break, but with the scoring struggles by the Beavers, Olson felt the margin could have been bigger.
“We had some lulls of possessions tonight and we talked about that at halftime,” Olson said. “We have tried to fix that. I have been on them, but we have to play through some of that lack of execution and empty possessions.”
“The difference was we were able to defend tonight and rebound, so that did not hurt us,” Olson continued. “It is not about being negative, it is about striving for something greater. We were up 14 at half. We felt like we played good enough defense to be up maybe 25 points. We weren’t able to do that, but that is credit to them being one of the best defensive teams in the state also.”
Maxwell opened the second half with a layup before Gore knocked in a pair of buckets for the Beavers.
Two free throws from a technical foul on the Bluefield bench and a triple from Brody Radford extended the lead to 16 points midway through the third period.
A pull-up 3-pointer from Bailey three minutes later increased the lead to 19 points and Shady Spring was never threatened the rest of the way.
Having not lost a game at home in five years, holding serve was important for the Tigers against the last team to beat them there back in 2019.
“We got it handed to us at Bluefield and we knew we had to get it back here and protect our home,” Bailey said. “(The streak) was a big thing. We had won 45 in a row (before tonight) and to keep that streak going motivates us each game.”
Coming off a loss to Fairmont Senior Monday in Marion County and with Princeton on the horizon Wednesday, Olson talked about the importance of the win Tuesday.
“This was a must win, if there is one in the regular season. We felt like for the bigger picture and what we have at stake that we needed this game,” Olson said. “We laid an egg down there. We did a great job traveling almost to Pennsylvania last night and then coming back and battling the best team in double-A tonight. I was proud of my guys.”
Bailey led the Tigers with 18 points, while Williams scored 13 and Davis had 11. Maxwell added nine.
Gore led all scorers for Bluefield with 23 and Hairston scored 11.
B: 10 9 11 8 – 38
SS: 22 11 14 8 – 55
E.J. Washington 2, Sencere Fields 2, Kam’Ron Gore 23, R.J. Hairston 11.
Jack Williams 13, Ammar Maxwell 9, Brody Radford 4, Gavin Davis 11, Jalon Bailey 18.