The Times West Virginian

Sports

March 4, 2014

County teams ready for sectional

FAIRMONT — When the season first started, no one had any clue how it would go. Now, as the boys’ sectional tournament begins tomorrow, it’s time for Marion County teams to display their growth.

Fairmont Senior is a team that started the season in the top five of the Associated Press poll. Many of those expectations were set due to last season’s title game appearance. But coach David Retton said this is a new year and new expectations were set.

“There’s no carry-over from last year’s team,” the veteran coach said. “We have a whole new team.”

It’s true, not one starter from last season remains for the Polar Bears this season. But the experience for some players last year has helped this team grow into another playoff contender.

“Those guys who were part of that team got to experience being successful and doing things the right way,” Retton said. “That was very important to see that and be apart of that.”

But now his team must play the game that this group of young men have come accustomed to, learning each other’s strengths along the way.

“Guys are getting more reps and they’re understanding what their teammates can and cannot do,” Retton said. “In certain situations, they know if a guy can catch it on the run or if they can shoot with their feet set.”

Retton said the progress that he’s seen this season has impressed him and his team will be ready when they host Oak Glen tonight at 7 p.m.

As for the other two schools, there’s less uncertainity and more familiarity. North Marion will host East Fairmont tonight at 7 p.m. in a game that could go either way.

On one hand you have the Huskies, a team filled with seniors. On the other, you have the Bees, a team led by a maturing sophomore big man who can handle the ball like a guard.

“North is a good team. There’s no doubt about it,” East Fairmont coach Tyrone Asterino said. “They’re a team that we’re familiar with but at the same time we feel that we can play with.”

North Marion coach Chris Freeman feels that his senior-filled team has more to play for, possibly giving them a slight advantage.

“We’ve got three guys that started games in Charleston (last state tournament) on the main floor,” he said. “Having all of those guys is a plus. I’ve said all year that we’re ready to step up for any challenge. Knowing what is on the line and that if we lose, they’re career is over; I think that leans in our favor.”

For the Bees, sophomore Nick Greely leads the way after averaging more than 20 points per game as East has won three of its last four games to end the season.

“The one thing I know is that they’re playing really well,” Freeman said of his team’s opponent. “They’re feeding Greely the ball. That’s the difference between the last game and now. He’s really been stepping up and making plays for them.”

To win some games at the end of the season like they have, Asterino said, is a boost.

“It’s always great to finish on a positive note,” he said. “It helps us come back and prepare.”

Either way, both coaches said the game will be a hard-fought battle that won’t be decided until the final minutes.

“It’ll be a dog fight for four periods,” Freeman said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re 2-20 or 20-2. That’s the good thing about high school basketball.”

Email Matt Welch at mwelch@timeswv.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.

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