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Poca gets by Bluefield, 49-42

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Had someone told veteran Poca coach Allen Osborne that Bluefield would shoot 60 percent from the field in its Class AA quarterfinal matchup, he likely wouldn’t have liked his team’s chances to advance.

But as has always been the case for Poca under Osborne, pace of play was imperative, and the second-seeded Dots controlled it to claim a 49-42 victory over the seventh-seeded Beavers on Wednesday at the Charleston Coliseum.

“We’re fortunate to advance and you have to give Bluefield credit,” Osborne said. “They shot sixty percent, hung in there and battled.”

The victory sends Poca (12-4) to a semifinal Friday where it will face No. 3 Charleston Catholic.

The Dots made 7-of-11 field goals in the opening quarter to build a 17-10 lead, but the Beavers (9-10) answered by making 6-of-8 second-quarter shots.

“I knew when I saw our seed we had our hands full,” BHS coach Buster Large said. “I have so much respect for coach Osborne and their players.”

Still, the Dots led 26-17 following a Jackson Toney three-pointer 2:03 before halftime, only for Bluefield to close on a 7-0 run and pull to within two. All seven points were scored by Caleb Fuller, who had 12 of his team-high 18 points in the opening half.

“We had a (nine)-point lead and relaxed,” Osborne said. “Our defense wasn’t intense like we need it to be. We challenged them at half and they responded. It was a good, solid win for us.”

PHS created separation in the third quarter and much of it was because the Dots held the Beavers to four field-goal attempts and scored eight points off turnovers. After BHS pulled to within two on a Jae’on Flack triple 1:47 into the second half, the Dots outscored the Beavers 8-2 the rest of the period, with forward Ethan Payne accounting for six points.

Virginia commit Isaac McKneely drained a three to start the fourth quarter and give Poca its largest lead at 40-29. Bluefield got no closer than seven the rest of the way, as half of McKneely’s 14 points came in the fourth quarter.

“We had our chances and we never make excuses at Bluefield,” Large said. “We had our chances so many times to get back in the game and we couldn’t.”

Payne led Poca with 17 points and Toney added 11 with three triples in the victory.

“It’s always good to have teammates like these that can bail me out sometimes,” McKneely said. “I’m not going to score thirty every game. These guys picked me up and credit to them.”

The Dots had only five turnovers and shot 50 percent, while assisting 13 of their 19 field goals.

The Beavers made 18-of-30 shots, but did not record an offensive rebound and had 11 turnovers.

“We were concerned about taking care of the ball and only had five turnovers,” Osborne said. “We were concerned about offensive rebounds and didn’t give one up. We wanted to keep them in front of us, play out on the perimeter and keep them off of the boards. Our defense was much better in the second half.“

Bluefield also failed to score a point from the free-throw line, while Poca was 6 of 9.

Poca postgame press conference

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