By Carl Holcomb
Moorefield Examiner –
The Yellow Jackets shook off the underdog status and emerged victorious with a buzzer-beating overtime shot to claim the Region II Section 2 Championship over Pendleton County 60-59 last Saturday in Petersburg.
Moorefield (10-12) lost to the Wildcats (17-6) in three previous meetings this season and when it counted they came out on top.
“That was a pretty special win for our group. This gives us six out of our last seven. We’re on a pretty good roll now and the confidence is high,” Moorefield Coach Pat McGregor stated.
“That’s really special, because we played a really tough schedule this year. I told these guys all year, it’s hard to lose all the time and we’ve got to the point now that we’re in a groove. Our hard work has really paid off. Since we’ve got on this little bit of a win streak, it puts a little bounce in your step. Tonight is the first time I’ve seen us really gut a game out all the way through and just be confident. I’ve seen times this year where we just drop our heads and think it’s over. Tonight at no point or time did we drop our heads thinking it was over. That tells me that we’ve grown. I’m so proud of them in those timeouts, they were responding to everything we were asking of them to do. They took it upon themselves to go out and win that game. They had a lot of heart tonight. They showed they are growing up and they’re becoming men.”
The Yellow Jackets fought through a tough schedule this season and outlasted a furious attack by Pendleton County for back-to-back titles.
The need for speed was evident with four seconds left in overtime as Moorefield’s Dakota Vetter snatched the rebound and passed to Tyler Smith after a missed free throw by Pendleton County’s Luke Cooper who just put the Wildcats ahead 59-57.
Smith swiftly moved the ball down the floor and opted to launch a 3-pointer with the hand of Pendleton County’s Evan Arrington in his face and scored the game winner at the buzzer.
“In the sport of basketball, it never comes down to one play. It’s the body of work that leads us to that and Moorefield did a few things down the stretch to bother us,” Pendleton County Coach Ryan Lambert commented.
“They made the extra play down the stretch and that was it. It really had nothing to do with the missed free throw. It was the momentum they created with their pressure defense in the last few minutes. I told my guys you’re not a competitor if it doesn’t hurt a little bit. It’s a rivalry game, a game that you want to win; but whether you win or lose this game we still put ourselves in a position to where you play one game: you lose and you go home or you win and you go to Charleston. Whether we won or lost today that was the scenario. We’ll swallow this one and get our heads screwed back on right. This one hurts a little bit, but we’ll get back and prepare to go to Notre Dame to make it a competitive game to be in it down the stretch and hopefully pull one out against a team that is a higher ranked team than us.”
The place erupted as Moorefield fans flooded the court and the players made a dogpile celebrating back-to-back Region II Section 2 Championships.
“There was no better feeling, but it was a great team effort from all of us. We played our hearts out and it resulted in a great victory. This game meant a lot to all of us,” Moorefield point guard Tyler Smith remarked.
The joy of this win shows how having confidence helps usher success.
“We got down and fought back. All the kids were positive the whole time. They fought through it and got the victory. I’m so proud of them tonight for winning the sectional championship after the year we had. The kids really deserve that victory tonight, Coach McGregor said.
“When he shot it, I knew it had a chance. It’s so nice that it went in, because he had missed two in a row right before that, that could have been big shots and they didn’t fall. When that one fell, it was kind of redemption for him. He never came out of the game. He played all 36 minutes tonight. He penetrated all night. He played defense all night. He’s really responded and it paid off tonight. I’m so proud of him. He really had himself pumped up for this game. You can see the way he played tonight, that’s the Smitty that we all know and love. It was really nice that he did have a great game and he did finish it out there.”
This game was a thriller from the start as Moorefield’s Austin Williams nailed a 3-pointer at 7:26 and Pendleton County answered with a jumper by Logan Cooper.
The Wildcats got a steal by Cody Lambert who dished to Evan Arrington for a 3-pointer.