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Irish outlast Beavers 42-39 in Class A final

Mar. 19—CHARLESTON — It may have been St. Patrick's weekend, but the hard-luck Bluefield Beavers seemed destined to repeat a Greek tragedy.

In ancient lore Sisyphus was fated to push a boulder up a steep hill, only to have it roll back down just as he got it to the pinnacle.

For the second time in three years, Bluefield stood on the precipice of a AA state championship Saturday but after leading for almost 28 minutes, BHS lost a heartbreaker to Charleston Catholic 42-39.

Two years ago, Bluefield advanced to the title game but lost to powerful Poca. The Bluefield quintet (21-6) gave a valiant effort, taking an early 10-0 lead but finally fell victim to the Irish (24-4) who sparkled at the free throw line while the Beavers had only two points at the stripe.

R. J. Hairston led the Beavers with 13 points, followed by Kam Ron Gore with 10 and Glen Keene with 9.

Keene hit three treys for the Beavers.

"This is a tough pill to swallow," said Bluefield coach Buster Large.

"I am so proud of my team. We had a great play set up at the end but in the final scramble, the call went the other way and we never got a chance to score. This was a great high school game and give Charleston credit, they got the momentum to swing their way late in the game."

Bluefield's quick double-digit burst began with three-pointers by Senecre Fields and Glen Keene, followed by scores from Kam Ron Gore and R J Hairston, who also blocked two Charleston shots in that opening act. Charleston kept the faith, however, and slowly chipped away, getting seven points in the first quarter and 8 more in the second stanza. Bluefield held its own, leading 23-15 at the break, although the red-hot shooting that propelled BHS early began to fade.

High-scoring Jayallen Turner, held to only four points in the first half, began to penetrate in the second half, as both Zaden Ranson and Max Wilcox stepped for Charleston. The Irish outscored BHS 14-8 in the third stanza and followed that up with a 13-7 fourth quarter advantage to eke out the dramatic win.

In the second half, both Gore and Hairston battled through the late stages with four fouls apiece but both teams relied almost exclusively on the five original starters for the entire game and none fouled out.

Turner's free throw in the third quarter cut Bluefield's lead to 25-24 with 3:02 remaining but Keene ripped another trey and moved the Beavers ahead 28-24, then Hairston's inside bucket followed by more Turner foul shots ended the period as BHS still led, 32-29.

Turnovers for both teams came early in the final stanza. It was virtually an even battle from then on. Ranson followed Turner's jumper with a score, however, and Charleston took its first lead of the game, 36-35, with 4:36 to go. Hairston tied the score with a foul shot on the next series before Ranson scored again.

EJ Washington's three-pointer gave Bluefield its final lead, 39-38 at the 3:22 mark. The Beavers did not score again and the Irish closed out the win on two foul shots apiece from Ranson and Wilcox.

Ranson sparkled inside for the Irish and took game scoring honors with 13 points. Wilcox added 11 and Turner got 12 for the winners.

"I told our guys to just keep playing and never give up and we came through at the end with a great win," said Charleston coach Hunter Moles.

Keene said after the game, "We were blessed to be able to put on the Bluefield uniforms. Not many people get to do that."

Hairston commented, "This is a great group of teammates. We played hard for our school and each other."

The AA All Tournament Team designated by the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission (WVSSAC) included Fields, Washington, Hairston and Gore from Bluefield, which advanced to the title game with wins over Braxton County (85-40) and Wheeling Central Catholic (56-47). Turner from Charleston Catholic was the tournament Most Valuable Player. Zion Blevins (Chapmanville) Eli Sancomb (Wheeling Central), and Beau Bennett (Ravenswood) were also named.

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At Charleston Civic Center

Catholic.........7 8 14 13 — 42

Bluefied.........14 9 8 7 — 39

CHARLESTON CATH (24-4)

Gio Cinco 3, Jayallen Turner 12, Max Wilcox 11, Zaden Ranson 13, Jeff Reynolds 3, Wilkes Aliff, Jonah Ball

BLUEFIELD (21-6)

E J Washington, Sencere Fields 7, Kam'ron Gore 10, R J Hairston 13, Glenn Keene 9, Jack Hurt, Jeff King, Brett Samosky

3-point goals — CC, 1 (Reynolds). B, 4 (Keene —3, Washington).

Fouled Out — none.