CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Behind 27 points from Anthony Eades, top-seeded Bluefield captured its first state championship since 1996 by blowing out No. 2 Fairmont Senior 63-43 on Saturday.
“I was hot in warmups and I told my teammates to look for me,” said Eades, who finished 9-of-17 shooting in the Class AA final. “They did a great job of setting screens for me and getting me the ball.”
Bluefield (25-3) led 36-23 at halftime and stretched the cushion to 19, turning the fourth quarter into an extended celebration for the Beavers.
“It’s a great day for Bluefield High School. We gave a tremendous effort out there today,” Bluefield coach Charles Large said. “Well fell short a year ago, but today was a new day and it’s a great day for our team.”
“I was hot in warmups and I told my teammates to look for me. They did a great job of setting screens for me and getting me the ball.” — Bluefield’s Anthony Eades after his 27-point performance
Beavers guard Lykel Collier, who guarded his AAU buddy Jarin Hilson throughout the game, had 12 points and dished out a game-high seven assists.
“I knew (Hilson) was going to be a tough matchup, since we played together before,” Collier said. “I just knew we weren’t friends on the court.”
Hilson scored 11 to pace Fairmont Senior (21-7), but he fouled out in the fourth quarter. Austin Norman added 10 points, while Shaquille Washington pitched in six points and a team-high seven rebounds.
Much of Bluefield’s success in the first half came with Polar Bears guard Travon Horton hampered by foul trouble. Horton came into the game averaging 18 points, but finished with just four.
“Travon does so much for us — no question it hurt with him not out there,” Fairmont coach David Retton said. “He does a lot of things out there, not just score.”
Corey Coppola scored 12 for Bluefield, whose full-court pressure forced 14 turnovers that were converted into 18 points.
Though Eades scored 15 points in each of Bluefield’s first two state tournament games — a 62-51 quarterfinal victory over North Marion and Friday’s 54-48 semifinal win over Robert C. Byrd — the all-tournament player didn’t feel like he and his teammates hit their stride until Saturday.
“We had two bad games starting off (in Charleston) — we struggled against RCB and North Marion,” Eades said. “So we knew we had to step it up. We rested well last night and we just came to play today.”
Retton said Bluefield’s execution was too good.
“We never really were able to take (Bluefield) out of what they wanted to do,” he said. “Foul trouble hurt us and really took us out of our flow.”
Eades was joined on the Class AA all-tournament team by Bluefield’s Collier and Dave Edwards; Fairmont’s Horton, Hilson and Washington, Bridgeport’s Jordan Haywood; and Robert C. Byrd’s Devonti Birch RCB.
— CJ Ricker