Hometown Invitational Tournament A Huge Success
The finale of the first annual Hometown Invitational in Summersville, W. Va. ended Feb. 12, as 16 small Class-A boys’ public high school teams entered the Summersville Arena and Conference Center in eight evenly matched basketball games, sponsored by the Lincoln Primary Care Center.
First up was the Van Bulldogs against Union Grant Tigers for 15-16th place. Union was on top for most of the game, but Van fought back and scored six unanswered free throws down the stretch to claim a 52-47 victory.
In the next matchup, the Wildcats of Paden City took on the Montcalm Generals for 13-14th place.
Montcalm raced out to a large 12 point lead, thanks to a steady flow of made three point baskets in the first half. But, the never-say-die Wildcats clawed their way back with the clutch shooting of juniors Taylor Still and Geoffrey Bidwell and got back into the game over the taller Generals, 14-9, after one period of play.
Once again, Montcalm tore into a double-digit lead. But, this time, the ‘Cats lone senior, Zach Yost, stepped up with a pair of baskets from beyond the arch and some clutch baskets in the paint by Trey Leonard to close out the first half, 26-17, Montcalm.
Bidwell swished the nets from long range to open the second half and a nice feed from Yost to Bidwell had the ‘Cats closing, 27-22. After a steal by Leonard, Drew Bidwell passed off to Still for a deuce, to pull the road warrior Wildcats within three with 4:36 left in the period.
After a Montcalm time out, Yost connected from Charleston to knot the game for the first time at 27 all. Leonard made another steal, but missed a deuce on a putback that would have given Paden City the lead.
The Generals got fouled in the act of shooting at right before the buzzer and made the front end to grab the lead at 28-27 entering period four.
Leonard put back a miss and took a one-shot foul to give Paden City its first lead in the game. However, the Generals got a friendly roll and tied the game again, at 30.
Paden City held the ball on offense trying to pull Montcalm out to play man-to-man. However, the Wildcats lost possession on a turnover. Leonard pulled down a rebound and dished out to Drew Bidwell, who drove to the basket and put in a nice floater that landed Paden City on top.
The Wildcats fouled and the Generals made both shots. After a pair of turnovers by both teams and a pair of three point attempts, Yost is called for a charge that got the Paden City fans in an uproar with 26.6 seconds remaining in regulation.
Montcalm missed a shot and a shot at the buzzer by Paden City rolled off the rim to send the game into overtime.
Both teams made a three-pointer in the first overtime, with Yost netting the one for the ‘Cats. The Wildcats again missed a shot in close at the end of the period and lost possession on a breakaway that would have given them the win.
However, the game was sent into double overtime. Yost made one of two free throws to keep the game tied at 36. Montcalm hit a deuce to grab the lead with 1:03 left. After a time out, the Generals lost the balloon on a turnover. However, the Wildcats attempted a three for the win and missed. The Wildcats fouled and the Generals made one of two free throws for a three-point advantage with four seconds remaining. But, one last shot missed its mark and Paden City lost a heart breaker.
“The boys fought hard for all game,” said PC Head Coach Fred King. “After giving up 26 points in the first half, the kids buckled down and played great defense and limited Montcalm to six points in the second half and seven points in the two overtime periods. We are young and the kids got to play four schools they normaly wouldn’t see. It was nice to come down here and have a chance to compete where schools are the same size.”
“I couldn’t hit the side of a barn if I was standing in front of it,” said Yost after the game. “The experience in this tournament will help us finish this season on a positive note.” Leonard went on to add, “It was awesome to have this opportunity.”
Yost paced the ‘Cats with 12 points, including a trio of three pointers and grabbed 10 rebounds for a double-double, while Geoffrey Bidwell and Still followed with eight points each. Leonard added six points and grabbed 11 rebounds, while Drew Bidwell knocked on a deuce.
The next game had Hannan playing Harman for 11th and 12th place. Again, it was an exciting game as both teams played well enough to gain the nod. However, Hannan put on a clinic at the end to win, 68-55.
Valley took on a towering Meadowbridge Wildcat team that had players 6′ 8“, 6’4” and 6’3” vying for 9th or 10th place in the tournament.
Jeremiah Burch opened the game with a threeball and the Lumberjacks quickly followed with a deuce. Both teams traded baskets just about every trip down the floor during the first four minutes of the game. However, Meadowbridge nailed back-to-back shots and, after a Valley miscue, the Wildcats turned it into an easy bucket to go up 15-7. Alex Henderson nailed a couple of free throws to end the quarter with the Wildcats on top, 15-9.
In the second period, Ronald Morris got the ‘Jacks on the scoreboard first with a deuce and Burch nailed a pair of very long baskets from beyond the arch to pull the Lumberjacks a bit closer. But, Meadowbridge took advantage of Lumberjack substitutions and went into the locker room up, 31-21.
Morris opened the second half with a driving basket and assisted on a basket by Davie Sivert. After a Wildcat charity toss and a deuce, Henderson picked the pocket of a Wildcat and scored on a nice lay up. After a Wildcat turnover, Henderson hit Morris off an inbound pass for an easy deuce to narrow the deficit to 34-32.
Meadowbridge sank a basket and then Henderson went inside the tall Wildcat trees and put in a nice floater to pull Valley to within a basket once more. Morris in return nailed a long threeball to give Valley its first lead of the night at 37-36. Morris nailed another trey after a Wildcat deuce and Meadowbridge tallied a basket at the buzzer for a 42-40 advantage after three periods of play.
The combination of Morris-to-Henderson tied the game at 42 to open the fourth period. But, the ‘Cats made two freebies to retake the lead. However, Morris drained his third straight triple and blocked a Wildcat shot. Garrett Ueltschy also blocked a shot that warranted a Meadowbridge time out.
Late in the fourth, Morris injured himself trying to save a ball from going out of bounds and had to leave the game. The Wildcats would ultimately take a five-point lead with only a few seconds remaining in regulation and with Morris still on the bench. After a Kody Jenkins driving lay up, Valley would call a time out, following which Meadowbridge threw the ball against the back of the backboard for a turnover.
The Lumberjacks went to Henderson who nailed a triple to tie the game. However, a foul was called on Valley while the ‘Cats were dribbling the ball to give them a chance to win the game with less than a second remaining. The pressure was too much on the Wildcat and the free throw attempt rolled off the rim to send the game into overtime.
In overtime, Morris returned to action and swished four free throws, Henderson nailed a triple and a deuce, while Jenkins and Garrett Ueltschy each nailed a freebie to help give Valley a well deserved victory.
“The H.I.T. was a big success,” said Valley Head Coach John Kocher. “All the games were competitive. My boys never gave up and being down five points with 17 seconds to go, they had the confidence to come back and win the game.
“When we saw Ronald go down after pulling us close, we just came together and made it happen,” said Henderson after the game. “My defender fell down and I had a nice look to hit the three. And when Ronald returned in overtime, I just knew we were going to win. This tournament was great we played some teams we would have never faced and played in different gymnasiums. It was a wonderful feeling to win, but we are not done. We want to finish the season on a high and let the chips fall where they may.”
Morris led the Lumberjack Express with 21 points, including three triples, while Henderson added 20 points, including a pair of threeballs. Burch tacked on three baskets from way downtown, while Jenkins ran the show from point and contributed seven markers. Garrett Ueltschy added five points; Sivert, three points; Cameron Price, two points; and Clay Ueltschy, one point. Henderson was selected as MVP of the game for Valley.
Fayetteville defeated Hundred 73-40 for seventh place. The Pirates raced out to a 13-0 lead before Shane Kuhn nailed a free throw to put the Hornets on the scoreboard.
It didn’t get any better, as the Pirates were on their game, while the Hornets were struggling to keep up. Tyrell Watson tallied 11 points to lead the Hornets, while Dalton Kuhn was held to nine markers. Brady Koontz followed with five points, while Shane Kuhn, Jericho Park and Rusty Morris each added three points. Kirk Shriver and Nick Phillips each added a deuce for Hundred.
“I believe the tournament was a great success,” said Hundred Head Coach Justin Balwanz. “I saw a lot of good small school teams down there. I hope it continues for years to come. As for the game, you must defend, rebound and make shots to win. We did none of that very well.” Watson was selected as the MVP for Hundred.
The rest of the tournament saw Valley-Fayette beat Tygarts Valley, 52-49 for fifth place; Buffalo beat Clay-Battelle, 65-61 for third place; and Midland Trail knocked off East Hardy, 78-69, to win the first Hometown Invitational.
Besides all the games being played by 16 small public schools during the tournament. The H.I.T. committee with the help of sponsor Lincoln Primary Care Center gave all players a backpack, a water bottle, a T-Shirt, a program and free food and drinks. Also, teams that had to travel long distances were rewarded by free board at the tournament at a nearby hotel. Well done!
In the Hometown Invitational Tournament third round of games, the Valley Lumberjacks beat Harman, 85-46; Paden City defeated Union Grant, 37-31 for its first win of the season; and Hundred fell to Tygarts Valley, 85-46.
At Valley High School Feb. 9, the ‘Jacks poured in 30 points in the second period to break open a close game to claim its second win of the tournament, 85-46, at Valley High School.
For the second consecutive game in the tournament, Valley saw all 12 players score points. Leading the way were Alex Henderson and Ronald Morris with nine points each, while Cameron Price, Davie Sivert, Clay Ueltschy and Kody Jenkins each netted eight markers.
Other ‘Jacks contributing points included Daniel Brewer with five points; Brady Nolan and Hunter Ring with four points; and Greg Anderson, two points.
The Wildcats used a 16-8 run in the fourth period to defeat Union Grant, 37-31, for its first win of the season, Feb. 9 at Bob Burton Gymnasium.
The Wildcats’ Geoffrey Bidwell tallied the game’s first five points and led all scorers with 15 points, including a three-point basket, while Zach Yost added nine points, including two baskets from beyond the arch. Taylor Still continued to lit up the scoreboard, contributing seven points, while Trey Leonard and Jamie Billiter each sank a deuce.
Hundred Hornet Dalton Kuhn tallied a game-high 33 points, but it wasn’t enough to get by Tygarts Valley, 85-46, in the third round of the HIT, Feb. 9 at Tygarts Valley High School.
Shane Kuhn added six points, Nick Phillips, five points and Rusty Morris four points.