It was a wild weekend at the Spartan Gym in Fairlea when the Greenbrier East Spartans hosted their arch rivals, the Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles on Friday, December 17 and then played host to the Radford (VA) Bobcats on Saturday the 18th.
Both games were thrilling classics, but only one turned out in East’s favor. They held off the Bobcats for a 58-57 victory, but suffered a heartbreaking 66-65 loss to Woodrow when Woodrow’s Maddex McMillen drilled a corner 3-pointer with 2.5 seconds left, erasing a two-point Spartan lead they had just taken on their previous possession.
Woodrow went up 12-3 in the first quarter and were pounding the offensive glass as their first six points were put backs on misses and the other baskets were treys from McMillen.
McMillen, also the Eagles quarterback in football, then took a charge on the Spartans’ Goose Gabbert, but East settled in after that and started chipping away.
Adam Seams made a nice pass to Aaron Griffith for a bucket then two possessions later, Seams got a steal and went coast-to-coast for a layup. At that point the score was 14-9, Beckley.
Seams then got another steal, as the Eagles started turning the ball over at a rapid pace, and he cashed in on two free throws. Bryson Brammer added a basket and at the end of the first quarter, Beckley led by just three points, 16-13.
McMillen and Brammer traded two threes apiece to open the second. Gabbert and Griffith added free throws, then Seams’ long 3-pointer knotted the score at 24-all with about three minutes left in the first half.
The Spartans eventually took the lead on a long two by Seams and a floater by Zach Patton. Seams had an injury scare for just a few seconds after an attempted dunk landed him a hard fall when a Beckley player met him at the rim. He jumped up however, and was fine. A couple baskets from Gabbert secured a 34-31 halftime lead for the Spartans.
Both teams went back-and-forth in the third period as Beckley’s Elijah Redfern started to wake up. The sophomore had a quiet first half and Eagles coach Ron Kidd made him a priority contributor in the second. He started the half with a made jumper and totaled eight points in the quarter. Gabe Patton’s buzzer beating 3-pointer kept East ahead 47-46 heading into the final quarter of play.
Gabbert put the Spartans up 53-49 with a left- wing three and Seams and Monquelle Davis followed that basket with two underneath, and East had taken its largest lead at that point at 57-50.
That lead grew to nine points after Gabbert found Griffith for a layup, but that is when Beckley settled down and started chipping away. McMillen, Sam Peck and Jalen Walton all hit clutch shots to bring Beckley within four points at 63-59. Then, Keynan Cook made a tough shot and Redfern hit a jumper to tie the game at 63-all with 56 seconds left.
Redfern had an opportunity to put Beckley on top, but he missed an easy shot at the basket which Griffith rebounded and raced down the floor. He was fouled from behind by Cook, and went to the foul line and calmly sank both free throws for a 65-63 East lead.
On the ensuing Beckley (1-0) possession, Redfern drove into the middle of the paint, the Spartan defense inevitably collapsed on him and he found McMillen in the left corner for a three which he knocked down, and the Eagles celebrated all over the Spartan floor.
Seams led the Spartans with 15 points. Griffith had 11 and Brammer scored 10.
McMillen led Beckley with 25 points. Redfern had 18.
East (2-3) rebounded rather quickly with their win over Radford. Dealing with 6-foot-5 inch sophomore Elijah Kelly, a potential high major recruit in a couple years who had 20 points including a thunderous dunk, the Spartans found a way to prevail.
Radford (1-1) missed a short jumper just off the front of the rim and East, this time got to celebrate on their own floor.
Davis was tremendous with 18 points. Griffith had 11 and Seams contributed 10.
The Spartans are scheduled to play Greater Beckley Christian on the road this Tuesday, December 21.
Stats courtesy of 103.1, WRON.