CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Throughout the season, Class AA No. 3 Bluefield played its fair share of quality opponents, beating state tournament qualifiers Capital and Oak Hill, as well as a strong Woodrow Wilson team.
Unfortunately for the Beavers, it didn’t do much to help prepare them for Friday’s semifinal against No. 2 Fairmont Senior.
The Polar Bears shut down everything Bluefield tried to do, limiting the Beavers to four field goals over the first three quarters to cruise into their fifth straight AA title game with a 64-32 victory.
“Our defense was outstanding,” Fairmont Senior coach David Retton said. “The effort that these guys gave was off the charts.”
FSHS will take on No. 1 Chapmanville in the championship.
Braden Crews made a 3-pointer 1:27 into the contest for Bluefield’s first points, but the Polar Bears (26-1) scored 18 of the next 19 points to take control of the game.
All five FSHS starters scored in the opening period, including dunks from Zyon Dobbs and Jaelin Johnson.
Patrick Laxton help set the tone defensively for the Polar Bears by drawing three charges in the first quarter.
“Patrick did a great job,” Retton said. “Those things don’t go unnoticed. They’re huge.”
Kaulin Parris’ 3 was the only basket Bluefield (21-3) managed in the second quarter and it cut Fairmont Senior’s lead to 21-7.
The Polar Bears went on a 9-0 run over the final 4:23 of the half and entered the break with a 23-point lead after Trey Washenitz made a 3 just before the buzzer sounded.
The Beavers were shooting 2-for-23 at halftime and being out-rebounded, 27-13.
“Without a doubt that’s the best team we’ve seen,” Bluefield coach Buster Large said. “I knew they were going to be good. I felt we had to do some critical things early and we did not.”
Laxton started the second-half scoring with a layup and Jalen Bridges scored five straight points to push the lead out to 37-7 at the 4:31 mark of the third quarter.
FSHS took a 42-13 lead into the fourth quarter, before the Beavers scored 19 points in the final 6:34.
“We adjusted to their personnel and what guys could do,” Retton said. “We had tremendous helpside defense.”
Bridges nearly recorded a triple-double as he finished with 17 points, 12 rebounds and eight blocks.
Dasilas Jones scored 12 points in the win, while Laxton had eight points to go with five rebounds.
The Beavers made 11-of-57 shots for 19.3 percent shooting.
“We lost to a great high school basketball team,” Large said. “I’ve seen fairmont before — I don’t think I’ve ever seen them this talented.”
against a team like that you can’t dig yourself a hole and we dug ourselves a major hole today.
Crews was Bluefield’s leading scorer with six points.
The Polar Bears lost to Poca in the 2015 title game, before winning two straight championships. Fairmont Senior fell short against Chapmanville in last year’s final.
“This is the most important one out of all of them, because it’s the one that’s up now,” Dobbs said. “What we did in past won’t help us tomorrow.”