By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
What better way to go out on Senior Night than with a win? That’s exactly what the senior-dominant North Marion Huskies did as they picked up a 73-62 victory over Philip Barbour Friday night at North Marion High School.
Led by double-doubles from Cody Opron and Chase Banker, North Marion (9-9) used a 25-point fourth quarter to seal the deal.
“I just told them to enjoy the moment because you only get to do this once, obviously,” North coach Chris Freeman said of the message he told his seniors before the game. “They’ve been with me since seventh grade and they’re pretty dedicated seniors and work hard. We were just trying to live in the moment and enjoy their night tonight.”
And enjoy it they did as all six varsity seniors scored in the contest.
Opron, who sat out much of the game in foul trouble, finished with 21 points and 12 boards.
After sitting much of the second quarter with foul trouble, Opron came back in with 4:27 left in the half and scored 10 of the team’s 14 second-quarter points.
“Coach (Freeman) just told me not to play stupid and not to try and block everyone since I was taller,” Opron said of his night. “It was pretty tough but being bigger than everyone else just makes me play physical.”
A majority of the 6-foot-6 center’s points came from offensive rebounds as he was double- and triple-teamed much of the night by the Colts. He was able to grab six rebounds from the offensive glass, scoring on every one of them either via putback or drawing a foul, as he drained 8-of-12 from the line.
“We’re trying to get back to what we do best. We think we’ve gotten back to running the floor and getting the ball to him in transition,” Freeman said of Opron. “When he’s running the floor and grabbing loose shots, it’s east for him to grab offensive rebounds and get some stick backs.”
Helping Opron out on the stat sheet was Banker, who finished with 12 points and 14 boards, 10 of which came on the defensive side of the ball.
“Obviously Chase, of course I’m biased, is probably the hardest working kid night in and night out on the floor in the Big 10,” Freeman said of Banker’s performance. “He just goes out and plays so hard. He really inspires the rest of our guys to play at that level.”
After trailing by two at the half, the Huskies came out with an 8-0 run to move ahead. They took a five-point lead into the game’s final quarter. And, despite four technical fouls called on North in the game’s final eight minutes, the Huskies used a late 11-1 run to put the game away.
With the win, North looks ahead to just a few games left before the sectional tournament, with seedings coming out early next week. Freeman said that while that’s important, he just wants his team to focus on their game today with Elkins.
“I think it’s going to be tough for us to come out as number one but we did split with (Fairmont Senior) and then beat East twice and Weir who is a sectional tournament team. It’s going to be up to the coaches to see how votes go,” he said. “I think we played the hardest schedule in (class) AA. But we’ll be prepared to play whoever we have to play.
The main thing for us to focus on is the game (today), It’s going to be a very tough Elkins team. We’re just going to have to turn around in 24 hours and be ready to go again.”
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.