Big Blacks fall to Poca in opener, 74-41


By Bryan Walters - bwalters@aimmediamidwest.com



POINT PLEASANT, W.Va. — The difference came down to experience.

Visiting Poca shot 56 percent from the field and established an 18-2 first quarter lead Tuesday night en route to a 74-41 victory over the Point Pleasant boys basketball team in the season opener for both programs at The Dungeon in Mason County.

The Big Blacks (0-1) — who have only one senior on the roster — showed a touch of youth early on as the hosts missed their first 11 shot attempts, yet still found themselves down only 4-2 midway through the opening canto.

The Dots (1-0), however, made a 14-0 run over the final 3:08 of the first period and ultimately never looked back while securing a 16-point cushion after eight minutes of play.

Braxton Yates finally got a basket to go in with an old-fashioned three-point play 18 seconds into the second frame, allowing Point to close to within 18-5. The hosts, however, were never closer the rest of the way.

PHS — which made 9-of-14 shot attempts in the second quarter — responded with a 19-3 surge over the next six-plus minutes, allowing the guests to secure their largest first half lead at 37-8 with 1:32 remaining until halftime.

Point Pleasant countered with a small 5-2 spurt to close out the half for a 39-13 deficit entering the intermission.

The Big Blacks managed to keep things a bit more respectable in the second half after whittling the lead down to 20 points on two different occasions in the third, outscoring the guests by a 16-15 margin while closing to within 54-29 headed into the finale.

Poca, though, led by at least 21 points the rest of the way and ended regulation on a 14-2 run over the final 4:51 while wrapping up the 33-point outcome — its largest lead of the contest.

Despite the difficult evening, sixth-year PPHS coach Josh Williams remained optimistic about his youthful bunch — primarily because he knows that there is a lot of basketball left to be played and that this group has only one way to go … and that direction is up.

“We know that it’s going to be a process, being a young team, and we know we have some things to work on. At the end of the day, we made mistakes that young teams make,” Williams said. “Poca did a really good job of executing their stuff, and you’re going to get beat if you aren’t where you are supposed to be on the defensive side of the floor.

“I also think that us not being able to get the ball to go in the hole early on really carried over to the other end. We challenged the kids at halftime and we showed signs of some fight, but this was kind of a welcoming for us to varsity basketball. We know what we have to work on … and now it’s a process of just continuing to get better each and every day.”

The Dots outrebounded Point Pleasant by a 33-22 overall margin, which included a small 8-7 edge on the offensive glass. Poca also committed just nine turnovers, while PPHS had 11 first half miscues and finished the night with 16 turnovers.

The Big Blacks made just 4-of-19 field goals before halftime, but finished the night 16-of-47 from the field for 34 percent — including a 4-of-26 effort from behind the arc for 15 percent. The hosts were also 5-of-7 at the free throw line for 71 percent.

Yates led PPHS with 15 points and Kade Oliver was next with 12 points, while Malik Butler and Trace Derenberger each contributed four markers. Camron Long, Kyle Martin and Hunter Bush completed the scoring with two points apiece.

Derenberger led Point with seven rebounds and Yates hauled in four caroms, while Martin and Long each grabbed three boards in the setback.

Poca — which made 16-of-26 shot attempts in the first half for 62 percent — finished the night 28-of-50 overall from the field, including a 4-of-12 effort from three-point range for 33 percent. The guests were also 14-of-16 at the charity stripe for 88 percent.

Ethan Payne led the Dots with a game-high 17 points, followed by Evan McKneely and Mitch Hoffman with 16 markers apiece. Bronson Skeens also reached double-digits with 13 points.

Griffin Holbert was next with six points, while Noah Luikart, Kyler Meeks and Jack Piekarski completed the winning tally with two points each.

McKneely and Hoffman both hauled in seven rebounds apiece for the victors, with Luikart also grabbing six caroms.

With seven sophomores and two freshmen as part of his 12-man opening night varsity roster, Williams is definitely not ready to hit the panic button after 32 minutes of play.

As Williams noted, he simply has a better idea of what he has to work with — and he believes that this group can still be competitive with a lot of hard work and effort.

It also helps that they now have a little bit of collective experience … something that should greatly benefit them in preparing for the upcoming months.

“We didn’t really know what to expect out of this group because they are just so young. After tonight, at least we have a better idea of what our strengths and weaknesses are — and we can work on those things moving forward,” Williams said. “Now is a time to teach and get better, and we’ll do that. The kids didn’t really get down too much and they know we have a long way to go this year. It’s game one and we have a lot of season left, so we’ll trust the process and start getting ready for the next one.”

Point Pleasant returns to action Saturday when it travels to the University of Rio Grande to battle Oak Hill in the 2017 Newt Oliver Coaches Classic at 6 p.m.

Point Pleasant sophomore Kade Oliver (33) releases a shot attempt over a Poca defender during the second half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va.
Point Pleasant sophomore Kade Oliver (33) releases a shot attempt over a Poca defender during the second half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va. Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Point Pleasant junior Kyle Martin (21) releases a shot attempt in front of a Poca defender during the second half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)
Point Pleasant junior Kyle Martin (21) releases a shot attempt in front of a Poca defender during the second half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Point Pleasant freshman Malik Butler (20) releases a shot attempt over a Poca defender during the first half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)
Point Pleasant freshman Malik Butler (20) releases a shot attempt over a Poca defender during the first half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

Point Pleasant sophomore Braxton Yates (15) dribbles past a Poca defender during the first half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)
Point Pleasant sophomore Braxton Yates (15) dribbles past a Poca defender during the first half of Tuesday night’s boys basketball contest in Point Pleasant, W.Va. (Bryan Walters|OVP Sports)Bryan Walters|OVP Sports

By Bryan Walters

bwalters@aimmediamidwest.com

Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.

Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.