GRAFTON, W.Va. — With both teams scoring at a rapid rate, Buckhannon-Upshur coach Travis Foster wanted to see his team find a way to get a few stops down the stretch of Monday’s game at Grafton.
Foster ultimately got the result he desired as the Buccaneers scored 62 second-half points and closed on a 16-8 spurt over the final 2:25 to claim a 93-88 win over the Bearcats.
“The great thing about it is we found a way to win and in previous years, we probably wouldn’t have been in that situation,” Foster said. “But I don’t think either team could guard a parked car tonight. They couldn’t defend and we couldn’t defend, so it almost came down to who’s going to step up and get a couple stops at the end. We were able to do that with the time in our favor.”
Ryan Hurst, who led all players with 32 points, drained a deep three-pointer to erase Grafton’s 81-78 lead. After Zach Moore’s stickback put the Buccaneers (11-4) up two, Kaden Delany scored on a drive to tie the game at 83.
Harrison Walker responded with a jumper to put B-U back in front and Hurst followed with a steal and layup that doubled his team’s lead.
After another defensive stop, Hurst missed the front end of a 1-and-1, but immediately made up for it with a steal. Hurst then made 4-of-4 free throws over the final 23 seconds and Walker iced the game with a pair of foul shots with 6 seconds remaining.
“Ryan’s the guy you want at the free throw line,” Foster said. “He’s our quarterback and the oil in our machine. If he makes a mistake, he’s going to make up for it twice.”
After falling behind by five points early, Grafton (11-4) outscored Buckhannon 16-4 over the remainder of the first quarter to hold a 19-12 lead.
The Bearcats continued to excel in the second period, with guard Justin Spiker making three triples in the quarter to score 11 of his 18 first-half points. Spiker’s final three of the half gave the Bearcats a 41-29 lead to match their largest advantage of the half, before Hurst connected on a fallaway that beat the buzzer to make it a 10-point game at halftime.
While the Bucs outrebounded the Bearcats 19-9 in the opening half, they trailed by double digits in large part because of their 10 turnovers with only one forced and Grafton’s nearly 57 percent (17-of-30) shooting from the field.
“The pace was great. That’s what we want the pace of the game to be — up and down,” Grafton coach Michael Johnson said. “Even when they went zone in the first half to kind of slow us down, I thought we did a good job of moving the basketball, finding the open guy and knocking down some shots. But second-chance points was the reason we got beat tonight.”
Buckhannon was able to cut its deficit to six on a Lamar Hurst three early in the third quarter and pulled to within 49-47 on Moore’s stickback moments later. When William McCauley scored in the paint with 1:34 left in the quarter, it gave the Bucs a 57-55 advantage — their first lead since 8-7.
B-U settled for a 61-60 lead entering the fourth, and neither team led by more than three throughout the quarter until Hurst’s layup made it 87-83 with inside of 1 minute to play.
The Bucs made 23-of-36 field-goal attempts after halftime to shoot better than 61 percent for the game. Hurst made 11-of-16 shots and 8-of-9 free throws in his game-high scoring effort. White scored 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting off the bench, while Josh Loudin had 16 players and 12 rebounds.
“Zach White is a monster. He’s a machine,” Foster said. “One thing you know with Zach is he’s always going to give you rim-to-rim hustle.”
The Bucs finished with a 37-19 rebounding edge.
“We just weren’t able to get a body on them,” Johnson said. “They have lots of size and lots of length and that gave us some trouble at times.”
Spiker finished with 25 points, Tanner Moats scored 20 and J.T. Veltri added 19 in the loss. Blake Moore scored 13 to give GHS four in double figures.