GLENVILLE, W.Va. — If the first two games are any indication, expect Bridgeport’s boys basketball team to score its fair share of points this season.
Three days after a season-opening 100-74 victory against Tucker County, the Indians secured the Class AA championship at the IOGA Tournament with an 84-57 victory over Braxton County on Saturday at Glenville State.
Another balanced scoring effort was key for the Tribe (2-0), with Tanner Bifano’s 16 second-half points leading the way. Jake Bowen followed with 15 points and 14 rebounds, including seven boards in the first quarter to help set the tone for the contest. Nick Stalnaker chipped in with 14 points and Blake Bowers added 13 points and five assists.
Yet it was the Indians’ rebounding that particularly pleased coach Mike Robey as the Tribe won the battle of the boards 48-32 after being out-rebounded by 11 against the Mountain Lions.
“We didn’t rebound very well at all in our first game,” Robey said. “The past two days we have emphasized rebounds in practice quite a bit. Today, I thought we rebounded much better. They came out focused, like they were on a mission on the boards.”
An 8-1 run to end the first quarter gave Bridgeport its first separation of the contest and allowed it to lead 23-14 through 8 minutes. Stalnaker scored 12 first-quarter points, including back-to-back baskets during the surge, while Bowen added a follow-up and Aaron Randolph made a leaner.
Bowers had the only four points of the second quarter until the 4:05 mark, when a conventional three-point play by Hunter James ended a lengthy drought for the Eagles.
But Jaden Stewart’s tip-in would be Braxton’s only other second-quarter field goal, as the Indians used a 13-3 run over the final 4 minutes of the half to hold a 40-20 advantage at the intermission.
The last seven points of the half were scored by BHS reserves Ryan Goff and Corey Skidmore, the latter of which accounted for five on a 3-pointer and two free throws.
In addition to having a 27-20 advantage on the glass at the break, the Indians held the Eagles to 22 percent shooting (7-of-31).
Although Braxton County (1-2) executed much better over the final two quarters, the Eagles couldn’t come up with enough stops to seriously threaten the Indians.
Consecutive inside baskets by Bowers and Bowen made it 51-25, and the lead was 61-35 before the Eagles ended the third on a 5-0 run.
“(Bowers) has played really well for us in both games,” Robey said. “He is so much stronger taking the ball to the basket and his decision making has been great. There’s times where he tries to force a play when it isn’t there, but by the time I get a chance to get on him a bit about it, he comes right back with two or three great plays in a row.
“Blake likes getting everybody involved and he’s been doing a great job of that in the first two games.”
Braxton got as close as 16 by starting the fourth quarter with another 5-0 spurt, but Bifano scored eight fourth-quarter points to allow the Tribe to say on top comfortably.
Stewart led all players with 23 points, but was the only Eagle in double figures.
Bifano also came down with eight rebounds.