The Times West Virginian

Prep Sports

March 18, 2014

East eyes tournament run with clean slate

FAIRMONT — East Fairmont heads into the state tournament with a losing record of 11-13. That doesn’t matter to the Bees, though, who will play No. 1 seed Robert C. Byrd in Wednesday’s state tournament quarterfinals at 5:30 p.m.; their slate is clean.

The matchup comes on the heels of a 70-68 win in the regional tournament on the road against Roane County, a close game in which the Bees never trailed. The win, though, sent coach Tyrone Asterino’s team to the state tournament for the first time in over a decade.

“It’s been a long time for our community and for our school,” Asterino said of the upcoming trip to Charleston, where the Bees haven’t been to compete for a state title since 2001.

Now, East’s 11-13 record turns back to 0-0 as they eye a championship run.

That’s the mindset junior guard Brennon Vincent and the rest of the Bees have. When the fact that their losing record doesn’t matter any longer was brought up, Vincent said, “Exactly,” with a smile on his face.

As for the game with Byrd, a team they’ve only played once this season, junior forward Myles Johnson and the Bees are looking to open some eyes.

“We're playing the No. 1 seed so we've got to switch some things up,” said Johnson. “We're looking for the upset.”

The game with Roane County saw East as a probable underdog, much like its matchup with the top-ranked undefeated Flying Eagles of RCB. But the close contest with the Raiders may have strengthened Asterino’s team for the tournament.

Down the stretch of the regional game, East Fairmont battled through foul trouble to overcome Roane and advance.

“I just told our guys to keep their composure and watch their fouls,” Asterino said. “That kind of stuff is critical down the stretch of any game.”

Another critical part of their playoff success has been Vincent’s play at the point guard position.

In the two games that East has won in the post-season, Vincent seemed to take the game over, scoring a team-leading 15 points on the road against North Marion and 18 points against Roane. Vincent also had a hand, whether it be scoring or assisting, in all but six of the Bees’ final 18 points in their last outing.

Vincent said the time he spent on varsity last season prepared him to step up this season.

“I think a lot of it was just playing last year,” the 5-foot-10 guard said. “Playing as a sophomore, the seniors kind of got me ready to be a leader for when I got to this moment. This year, I’ve just prepared for it.”

Johnson, too, has seen the change in Vincent from last season, saying his teammate has handled the pressure of leading the team very well.

“He's been tough under pressure,” Johnson said. “He's improved a ton since last season.”

But it’ll take more than Vincent’s strong play to power East, which lost to RCB, 69-55, during the two teams’ only outing this season.

It’ll take Vincent’s play, combined with Johnson’s length and the scoring ability of sophomore forward Nick Greely at the bare minimum. The three scored just 15 combined points, with Vincent scoring 10 of them on his own, during the loss to RCB.

“We're just going to have to get back into our defense,” Vincent said. “They're going to try to push it so we just have to get back and hit shots on the other side.”

After starting the season 3-9, East Fairmont finished by winning 8-of-12, including post-season play.

Now, though, the Bees just want to finish 3-0 in Charleston and come home champions.

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

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