By Mark Robinson
Greenbrier East’s boys and girls teams won the championship for the Jerry Bradley Christmas Tournament, played at Greenbrier East High School Dec. 27 and 28. The boys team won a game against Westside, 70-66, and the girls won against Hedgesville, 67-34.
In the boys contest, Seth Brown dropped in 31 points to lead all scorers, with Shane Jenkins leading the visitors with 22. The game was a battle from the beginning, with East jumping out to a 10-4 lead, and Westside coming back to lead 14-12. It was tied at 14, tied at 16, and Westside led by one at the end of the quarter, 19-18. In the second quarter it was tied at 24, 28 and 33, but Westside hit a couple of three pointers to make it 39-33 at the half.
In the third quarter East continued to hit its shots, while Westside did not. From a six point deficit at halftime, East climbed out of the hole and took a five point lead with three minutes remaining in the quarter. At the end of the quarter the score was 53-49, East.
The first few minutes of the fourth quarter were intense, but East’s lead stretched to eight points. Then Westside turned up its intensity, but every time they scored Brown would respond by creating shots in a crowd, and sinking them. Everybody knew what Brown was going to do, but Westside was unable to stop him. With two minutes left it was 66-62 East, then 66-64. It was 68-64 with nine seconds left, when Westside’s Shane Jenkins launched a three point shot, only to be fouled. He made the first two shots, and intentionally missed the third, hoping Westside would grab the rebound and put it back in to tie the game. But Westside was called for being over the line, East got the ball with a two-point lead, and Nethaniel Patton hit a couple of free throws to finish the scoring.
Westside coach Ben Merica said afterward, “Right now, our third quarters, every game this year except one has been just like that. So I’ve got to change some routines, do something, to get them more intense and more aggressive so they can play better in the third quarter, cause right now what we’re doing isn’t working. I thought were dead, no intensity in them whatsoever.”
But coach Jim Justice had a different explanation. “We went to a three-man man, two-man zone at halftime. It looked like a man, they didn’t know what to do. It’s two people playing a zone, staggered. One at the foul line and another under the goal. And Corey on 23, Nethaniel on 10, and Seth on 5. We ran that the whole second half. I don’t think they ever figured it out.”
Westside’s only previous loss had been to Morgantown.Their record after the tournament was 4-2. East’s record improved to 6-0.
In the girls division, East played Hedgesville for the championship. Two freshmen, Haley McClure and Kate Perkins, led the scoring, with 13 and 12, respectively. Erika Link led Hedgesville, with eight points. East jumped out to an early lead and never looked back, as its press gave Hedgesville fits. It was difficult for the visitors to get the ball across mid-court, with East frequently stealing the ball and racing to the other end of the floor. The score at the half was 39-11. With East’s subs in, Hedgesville won the fourth quarter, 12-9, but overall the game was a blowout.
Hedgesville came in with a 3-3 record, and head coach Ben Merica said before the game he was playing a lot of ninth and tenth graders, and they are still learning the game.
Justice said afterward, “I keep saying the same thing. We’re getting better all the time. Twelve points from Kate Perkins is special. We have three kids really sick. Kate, Haley and Piper are sick. We didn’t know if they’d be able to play. Our pressure is still our dominating thing we’re able to do to a lot of people. And these kids really know how to run a lot of stuff. They give you a lot of options you can do. 10-1, midway through the season, that’s pretty good.”