The Times West Virginian

December 15, 2013

Huskies use team effort to win second straight: PHOTOS

By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian

RACHEL — By definition, basketball is a team sport.

North Marion proved that Saturday evening when the Huskies picked up a 64-50 victory over Weir.

The Huskies (2-0, 1-0) had three players in double figures, but had 10 players on the floor who put points up in the stat sheet.

Head coach Chris Freeman said the depth of the team is a great problem to have.

“We’re still looking at our rotation,” Freeman, who was able to empty the bench in the fourth quarter, said. “We’re going to need some of those young guys as the season goes on. I was proud of them when they got in, not giving up the lead.”

The Huskies never trailed in the game, but Weir was able to keep the game somewhat in reach by three-point shooting.

Weir hit seven threes in the game, though it shot 20 of them.

“They’re scrappy,” Freeman said. “They play hard and don’t give up.”

The game started out slowly, with both teams seeming sluggish in the first quarter. But the Huskies soon settled in behind senior guard Chase Banker, who scored six of his 13 points in the first half.

The slow play from North Marion could’ve been due to its hard-fought game with Fairmont Senior the night prior, but Freeman said he told his guys that they needed to focus.

“Our biggest challenge was not thinking about last night,” the coach said. “I told the guys it was a good win, but we have to forget about it and focus on Weir. I thought they played just how I wanted them to, hard on offense and physical on defense.”

Weir, which is coming off a two-win season a year ago, couldn’t decide on which player to guard.

With a six-footer under the basket, the Red Riders opted to double team North Marion’s Cody Opron.

“I thought they did a good job on Cody,” Freeman said. “Teams are always going to try to do something to him, but there’s a lot he can do. He can rebound. He can block, and he even got some steals. He can do more than score.”

Even with the double team, Opron scored 13 points to go with his 13 rebounds, nine of which were offensive, and two blocks.

With the attention on the 6-foot-7 senior, North Marion’s shooters on the outside began to take some notice of their own with senior Cole Richards being one of them.

“(Richards, Banker and Opron) are our big three,” Freeman said of his seniors. “They’re supposed to step up and make big plays. Cole really got us going on the offensive side with the attention on the inside.”

Richards, a 6-foot-1 guard, finished with 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting. Three of his shots were from long range.

“The game plan was to not let down after an emotional win,” Richards said. “I was just trying to knock down threes and play my role to get another ‘W’.”

All three — Richards, Banker and Opron — finished in double figures for the Huskies.

Weir was led by Christopher Wood with 13 points.

The Huskies are now looking to their next game, another county game on the road against East Fairmont Dec. 18, at 7:30 p.m.

Richards says the wins now are good, but the focus shifts to the Bees.

“It’s good momentum. We’re going strong,’ Richards said. “We’ve got to work hard and execute everything in practice and try to get another win against East Side.”

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