Bears crash out early

NEW MANCHESTER, W.Va. — Weir High got big games from a pair of seniors and withstood a fourth quarter Oak Glen rally to notch it’s first win in sectional play, a 61-56 thriller, Saturday night inside the Oak Glen Fieldhouse.

The win punched a ticket for the Red Riders to play at unbeaten Fairmont Senior, which is not only the top seed in Section 1, Region 1, but the top Class AA team in the state.

The senior duo of Keyshawn Faulks and Cameron Pierce combined for 46 of Weir High’s 61 as they led the Red Riders to victory. Faulks was a thorn in the side of the Golden Bears, which went into the game as the No. 4 seed in the section, especially in the first and third quarters where he scored 22 of his game-high 25 points.

Pierce, who scored a career high 21 points, got hot in the fourth quarter after Oak Glen closed Weir High’s 11-point halftime lead down to one point with three and a half minutes left in the game.

“It’s a shame Cameron (Pierce) hasn’t been able to play like he is capable of playing because of his knee injury,” veteran Red Rider coach Mike Granato said. “He’s been a pretty good player all four years of his high school career.”

The speedy Pierce was a starting defensive back on the Weir High football as a junior when he sustained a knee injury. It was an injury that ended his football career and forced him to sit out basketball all of his junior year. Pierce plays with a brace on the and it has given him some trouble this year, but he has played through it and came up big last night when the Red Riders needed it.

When Oak Glen sophomore Zach Taylor grabbed a rebound and put the ball back up and in the basket as the third quarter clock expired, the Golden Bears narrowed the score to 49-43. Then, junior Wyatt Wiley, who swished three triples, knocked one down to open the fourth, coach Jerry Everly’s charges gave notice that it was going down to the wire.

Another Oak Glen junior Jarrett Gittings drained a three with 3:32 left in the game to pull his team to within one at 53-52.

Following a Weir High time out, Pierce made two floaters in the lane on consecutive possessions to give Granato’s team some breathing room.

“When Cam went into the lane to float that shot over their big guys, it was a situation where I first was thinking no, no and when it banked in I said yes, yes,” Granato said.

Gittings nailed another three from way out on the left wing with 49 seconds showing on the clock to cut the Red Rider lead back to one at 57-56.

Weir High controlled the ball on the next possession and at the 30-second mark, Granato got another time out. With 23.8 left, Pierce was fouled and calmly went to the line sinking two free throws with the Red Riders in the bonus situation. That made the score 59-56.

The Golden Bears came up dry on their possession and Pierce was fouled again with 15.6 left. Again he got nothing but net on the freebies for the final scores of the game.

“I was feeling it tonight,” Pierce said. “I just wanted the ball at the end and it went in. When I went to the line there at the end, I just took a deep breath, tried to clear out all the noise behind me and let the ball fly. Yeah, that’s a career high for me.”

The Golden Bears drained 10 shots from behind the arc, but had trouble getting the shots to fall with their shooting from closer range.

“We couldn’t stop Keyshawn (Faulks) and then Pierce got hot late,” said Golden Bear coach, Jerry Everly, whose team split with Weir High during the regular season. “I feel bad for our seniors Chris (Kokoski) played a very good game, but we just couldn’t get anything from inside.”

Kokoski, one of two Golden Bear seniors, led his team’s offense with 20 points. Wiley followed with nine.

Weir High topped the taller Golden Bears in the rebounding department 31-24. Junior Reed Reitter pulled down eight off the glass and junior Thomas Buffington grabbed six. Oak Glen junior Ethan Travis led all rebouonders with 10.

“We were trying to help out with our outside defensive guys and we had a hard time recovering in time to stop their spot-up shooters. They can shoot it,” said Granato. “They do that every night. It’s not something they do now and then. It makes it tough when you’re trading three for two.

“Coming down the stretch, I thought our delay game worked really well tonight. We were able to get Cam to the line and Keyshawn to the line. We’re only shooting 58 percent for the year from the foul line but we made 11 of 18 tonight, which is pretty good for us.

“Now, you talk about going from the frying pan into the fire, Tuesday night we go to Fairmont Senior, which is No. 1 in the state in 2A and I believe they are the best team in the state regardless of classification. But we’ll do the best we can.

“The game is at Marion County Armory, Fairmont Senior’s home court. It’s a nice place with a big time atmosphere. We played in the Martin Luther King Day Tournament down there this year so we could get a game on that court.”

Game time Tuesday night in Fairmont is 7 p.m.

Weir High 61, Oak Glen 56

Weir High 21-11-17-12 — 61

Oak Glen 14-7-22-13 — 56

WEIR HIGH (9-14): Spencer 0 0-0 0; Pierce 7 4-4 21; Faulks 9 5-10 25; McCoy 0 0-0 0; Reitter 2 0-0 4; Krutilla 3 1-2 7; Buffington 1 1-2 4. TOTALS: 22 11-18 61. Three-pointers: 6 (Pierce 3, Faulks 2, Buffington). Rebounds: 31 (Reitter 8); Turnovers: 10.

OAK GLEN (14-9): Wiley 3 0-0 9; Smith 2 0-0 4; Gittings 4 0-0 11; Kokoski 7 2-2 20; Poling 1 1-2 3; Travis 1 3-8 5; Staub 2 0-0 4. TOTALS: 20 6-12 56. Three-pointers: 10 (Kokoski 4, Wiley 3, Gettinigs 3); Rebounds 24 (Travis 10); Turnovers: 12.