CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Veteran Robert C. Byrd coach Bill Bennett likes to think of the Eagles as a defensive-minded team.
In Thursday’s Class AA quarterfinal, it sure showed.
No. 5 Robert C. Byrd held No. 4 Oak Hill to 30 percent shooting, and the Eagles put together impressive second and third quarters to take control in a 49-36 victory at the Charleston Coliseum.
The win sends RCB (20-5) into a semifinal Friday at 7:15 p.m. against No. 1 Chapmanville.
“Our defense is what we’re about,” Bennett said. “A lot of coaches say that, but these guys will tell you we put a lot of time in on it.
“Tonight, it was outstanding. We had 22 points off turnovers and if someone had said before the game they’d out-rebound us by three, I’d have taken that given the size disparity.”
Both teams struggled to develop an offense rhythm early and Oak Hill (20-6) led 9-7 through one quarter.
The Red Devils then found the touch from the perimeter in the second, getting a 3-pointer from Phiexeous Gray and two triples from Michael Beasley to build an 18-12 lead.
But Oak Hill managed just two points over the final 5:50 of the first half, and RCB pulled even at 18 after Tanner Kennedy and Blake Meighen connected from beyond the arc.
“We didn’t make enough shots to get it done,” Oak Hill coach Benitez Jackson said. “We had some easy layups at the beginning of the game and had a chance to spread the lead a little bit.
“But give them a lot of credit. They were tough and really good defensively today.”
With the game tied at 20, Eagles’ reserve Logan Parsons made two 3s in the final minute of the half to send the Eagles into the break with a six-point lead.
“We were pleased to shoot the ball the way we did in that second quarter and it was big for us,” Bennett said.
RCB held Oak Hill scoreless over the first 4:08 of the third quarter, and by the time the Red Devils scored on a shot by Darrick McDowell, they faced a 31-22 deficit.
RCB immediately answered McDowell’s basket with a 9-0 run that featured a 3 by Kennedy and six straight points from Khori Miles.
“Khori was excited about being here and playing here and I could tell that in the first half,” Bennett said.
Trailing 40-22, Oak Hill rattled off eight in a row to pull to within 10 on Abe Farrow’s layup with 6:24 remaining.
Farrow made another basket at the 4:14 mark to cut the Eagles’ lead to eight, but Oak Hill only scored two more points the rest of the game.
“We played intense on defense,” Kennedy said. “We talked well and communicated. That’s what we had to do. they’re great at driving the ball and we cut off their driving lanes.”
Miles had a game-high 17 points, while Kennedy finished with 10 points, seven assists, five rebounds and five steals.
The Red Devils, who beat the Eagles 66-60 during the regular season, shot 15-for-50 and scored only six points off turnovers.
Beasley and McDowell led the team with 10 points apiece, while Andrew Work had six points and 10 rebounds.
“Our problem was on the offensive end,” Jackson said. “We didn’t make enough shots.”