By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
Roane County’s Scottie Meadows’ 3-point shot left his hand, looking for the net and the win.
Instead, it found East Fairmont’s Myles Johnson’s palm, ending the game and sending the Bees to the state tournament for the first time since 2001, with a 70-68 win Thursday night.
East Fairmont earned the No. 8 seed and will play unbeaten Robert C. Byrd Wednesday in Charleston.
“I just knew I had to get in his face somehow,” said Johnson, who finished with 19 points. “If I didn’t, I knew he was going to make it. I just tried to put a hand on him.”
Meadows finished with 15 points, most of which came in the second half, for a Raiders squad that scored 25 points in the closing quarter.
The Bees, though, finished the game just how they started: efficiently. Both Johnson and junior guard Brennon Vincent came out firing on all cylinders, leading East Fairmont to a 19-12 first-quarter lead, setting the tone for the rest of the game.
“That lead at the beginning was huge,” East Fairmont coach Tyrone Asterino said of the opening period. “They tied us but were never able to overcome us.”
True, East Fairmont led the entire game, scoring the game’s first eight points before Roane County got on the board at the 5:00 mark of the first. But it was the heart of the Bees that came through down the stretch.
It was Nick Greely, who played with four fouls in the fourth quarter and still scored a game-high 23 points. It was Vincent, who had a hand in all but six of East Fairmont’s final 18 points. And it was Johnson, who drained four-of-five foul shots in the last 15 seconds to seal the deal.
“That’s just tremendous,” Vincent said of Johnson’s free throws. “The last four or five games he’s shot 80, 90 percent. He’s really came up big.”
Personal numbers aside, it took a team effort for the Bee to punch their ticket to Charleston despite a losing record of 11-13. That record now sits at 0-0 as they head to the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.
“It’s been a long time, and our guys have played so hard. And they came on the road to do it,” Asterino said as his team cut down the nets at Roane County High School, passing pieces out to the student section which traveled two hours for the win.
“It’s just an unbelievable performance, and I can’t wait to take another step and see what happens.”
His players agree. Vincent said, “Coach hasn’t been to state since 2001, so we want to do this for him.”
The seedings haven’t been announced yet, but East will likely be paired up with a top-seeded team in the tournament.
That doesn’t matter, though, Johnson said.
“We’re just looking for the upset,” he said.
Email Matt Welch at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.