It all came down to one play.
It wasn’t a buzzer-beater nor was it in the final seconds, but when North Marion’s Chase Banker dribbled out of trouble and found center Cody Opron underneath the basket for a score late in the fourth quarter, it put the Huskies in a great position.
Homestanding North Marion (1-0 overall and in the Big 10) took a six-point lead on the play and went on to beat No. 5 Fairmont Senior, 57-48, in the season opener for both teams Friday night.
“I thought that obviously was a big play,” North Marion coach Chris Freeman said. “That six-point advantage gave us enough of a cushion where it forced them to take some outside shots, and we were able to contest those and get long rebounds. That did kind of separate the game there a little bit.”
Opron, a 6-foot-7 senior, recorded a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds.
“West Side played really good tonight,” Opron said. “In the first quarter we were sloppy, but there at the end we buckled down and just played hard.”
Fairmont Senior (0-1) kept the Huskies’ big man in check early in the game, though, but that could’ve been because the rest of North Marion’s starters weren’t hitting much of anything it seemed.
“There were a lot of jitters. It was a big game,” Freeman said of the first half. “It was a heck of a way to start the season, with a matchup like that right off the bat.”
The game was expected to be a dog fight, and it was just that.
The Huskies and Polar Bears were nearly even the entire first half, with both teams exchanging buckets en route to a 18-17 score in favor of the Polar Bears.
In the second half, though, Banker came out fired up.
The 6-foot-1 senior scored the Huskies’ first six points of the half, doubling what he had in the first half.
“Chase and Cody, they’ve got to lead us,” Freeman said of his seniors. “They’ve been with me for really four years. They’re expected to step up and make big plays, and that’s what Chase did.”
Banker ended with 12 points and seven rebounds.
After Banker ignited the Huskies, the Polar Bears continued to stick right with them, as guards Tavon Horton and Darhius Nunn began to settle in.
“You have to give Fairmont credit,” Freeman said. “Those guys played hard. They were active and aggressive.”
When Horton went out with foul trouble early in the second half, the Polar Bears turned to Nunn and Ike Childers to carry the load.
Childers, who struggled shooting in the first half, led the Polar Bears with 13 points.
When Horton finally came back in the game, it was too little, too late as the Huskies moved ahead for good in the final minutes.
To start the season off with a double-double and a win over a top five team, Opron said, is awesome.
“It’s a great feeling to come out the first game of your senior season and get that,” he said.
Cole Richards and Matt Martin each scored double figures for the Huskies with 13 and 10, respectively. Horton and Nunn each scored 10 for Fairmont Senior.
The win for the Huskies gives them an edge in the eyes of the poll voters maybe, but they won’t be able to celebrate too long, said Freeman.
“We don’t have a long time to celebrate this; we’ve got to play again (tonight) against Weir, so we’ve got to go home and get some rest and get ready to go,” Freeman said.
The Huskies will host Weir tonight at 6, while Fairmont Senior is back in action on Dec. 18 when it hosts Liberty (Harrison).
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.
It all came down to one play.
Steelers WR Antonio Brown aims for repeat of 2013
Antonio Brown rolled up to the dorms at Saint Vincent College last week in a Mercedes conversion van.
It’s fitting in a way. Five years into a blossoming career, the Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver is playing the role of dad — OK, maybe slightly older brother — to a group long on talent but short on experience.
Mountaineers open practice with different feel
West Virginia football coach Dana Holgorsen was happy with his team’s first practice of the 2014 season.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Social media adds another thing to watch for coaches
As someone who has gotten himself in enough hot water with a misplaced Tweet, when West Virginia quarterback Clint Trickett hit the send button on July 17 sending out to the cyberworld that should have remained there with him on the couch on which he was sitting, I could feel his pain.
FURFARI COLUMN: Bobby Bowden won the bad-and-good battle with rival Lou Holtz
The recent announcement that West Virginia University is resuming a football relationship with North Carolina State triggered a most memorable bad-news, good-news battle.
Post 17 stays alive in American Legion state tournament
After a rather sloppy Area tournament, Post 17 Fairmont managed to turn things around Thursday afternoon at Hawley Filed in Morgantown, staying alive with a 4-2 win over Elkins in the American Legion state baseball tournament.
WVU men’s basketball non-conference schedule announced
West Virginia University Director of Athletics Oliver Luck has announced the 2014-15 men’s basketball non-conference schedule.
Wheeling holds off Post 17 rally in state tournament opener: PHOTOS
Wheeling Post 1 pitcher Mo Felt nearly went the distance in a 7-6 victory over Fairmont Post 17 on Tuesday afternoon at the West Virginia American Legion Baseball State Tournament at Hawley Field.
Felt struck out seven in 8.1 innings of work in the team’s first-round victory over Fairmont.
HERTZEL COLUMN: Must WVU defense carry offense in ’14?
The other day the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette ran a story under the following headline:
“In a year of change, must the Steelers’ offense carry the defense this year?”
Reading that turned on a light.
WVU takes first step today
Perhaps the most used — and least factual — cliché in sports is as follows:
“There’s no tomorrow.”
Around these parts, however, tomorrow is what they are clinging to, while putting a new twist on the cliché, turning it to, “There’s no yesterday.”
Pirates’ gaffe on bases proves costly
Clint Hurdle says he and a pal often marvel over how there’s always something new to see at a baseball game.
Too bad for Hurdle, what we watched Wednesday wrecked the Pittsburgh Pirates in a 7-5 loss.
A timely, heads-up glance by reliever Jean Machi helped San Francisco take advantage of a gaffe on the bases by Pittsburgh, and the Giants tagged out of two runners who wandered away on the same play grab momentum and end a six-game losing streak.
- More Sports Headlines
- Steelers WR Antonio Brown aims for repeat of 2013