By Mike DeFabo
Times West Virginian
PLEASANT VALLEY —
One. Two. Three.
As fast as you can read it, that’s how fast Elkins hit three quick 3-pointers to start the game against East Fairmont Friday night.
The early sharpshooting set the tone for the Tigers, who used a swarming defense and spot-on 3-point shooting in a 72-58 victory over the Bees at East Fairmont High School.
“It was demoralizing for us,” East Fairmont coach Tyrone Asterino said. “For two days we worked on closing out on the shooters. We knew they were going to shoot 3s, and that’s exactly what they did.”
The Tigers took the opening tip-off and worked the ball around the key for an open long-range shot. Then, they stole the inbound pass and nailed a second 3. And again they forced a turnover and hit yet another 3-pointer.
All this before East Fairmont had attempted a shot, or even worked the ball past halfcourt.
“When you jump out like that it gets you going offensively, especially when you're on the road,” Elkins coach John Lawson said. “For our team that’s big because we’re not very big. We’re a jump-shooting team. That got us going pretty good from the get-go.”
The Tigers went on to make seven 3-pointers in the first half to help them grab a 41-23 halftime lead. The points from beyond the arc counted for 21 of Elkins’ 41 points in the opening 16 minutes.
East Fairmont never recovered.
“At practice, all we preached was that they shoot 3s, you’ve got to get back in transition,” Asterino said. “It’s all we did for two days in practice. You’ve got to run run them off the line and then put it inside or force someone else to take the shot.
“We’re not executing. We’re not playing intelligently. When you don’t play intelligently and you don’t execute, it’s hard to win games. Point blank.”
East Fairmont (2-4, 0-3 Big 10) chipped away at the double-digit lead thanks to an 18-9 run over the first seven minutes of the third quarter. Jacob Casalinuova, who scored nine points Friday, capped the surge with a 3-pointer of his own to cut Elkins’ lead to just nine with a minute left in the quarter.
But that was as close as the Bees would get. They continue to search for their first win in the conference.
“We've got to get better because 0-3 is not a good start,” said sophomore Nick Greely, who led Bees with 21 points. “Every day we've got to just focus. That's all we can do.”
The Tigers (5-1, 3-0 Big 10) had four players score in double figures. Logan Phillips, whom Asterino called a “no-doubt first-team all-conference player,” finished with 27. Braden Hammond and Colby Gainer scored 15. And Tyler Shreve put up 11.
“We like to share the ball and get everybody involved. We're a very unselfish team,” said Lawson. “That goes along with a lot of senior leadership and makes it fun for everybody.”
Fun for everybody except East Fairmont.
The Bees return to action Wednesday when they travel to Buckhannon-Upshur in search of their first conference win.
“We just have to start playing more as a team and play better on defense. Simple as that,” said Myles Johnson, who finished with 14 points. “I believe we'll get it turned around. We played some tough teams. We'll get it turned around though.”
Email Mike DeFabo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @MikeDeFaboTWV.