NORTH LEWISBURG – Triad and West Liberty-Salem battled to the finish in an OHC boys basketball rivalry game Friday night, with the Tigers coming away with a 41-36 victory.
Prior to the game, Triad honored its state runner-up baseball team from last season with the squad’s banner, which will hang in the gymnasium.
After the tip, the offensive execution was pretty to watch on both sides for much of the game, with teammates finding one another and moving the ball well. However, neither team was able to make a shot, leaving it a low-scoring affair.
“Couldn’t get it in the basket,” WL-S Coach Darrin Leichty said. “But I felt like the players dealt with it and kept making stops. And that was the difference, because when you’re missing shots and missing free throws, it’s got to come from somewhere else.”
Triad led, 9-8, after a quarter and West Liberty-Salem led at the intermission, 17-11. The Tigers did most of their damage with Trevor Burden in the first half, with the big fellow banging his way to 9 points at the break.
“Coming into the game, we felt like he was our toughest matchup,” Triad Coach Jason Malone said, “because he’s so strong and he’s got such a wide base, when he touches it in the lane, it’s just a question of whether he’s going to miss.”
Both squads came out of the locker room with a bit more purpose in the second half – both played pressure defense and both went to the hoop with more vigor. Triad was able to put the clamps on Burden, and actually regained the lead down the stretch before surrendering it again.
“Offensively, we were just awful. Teams are going to focus on Hadley (LeVan) and take him away. And they did it in the first half and they did it in the second half, but other guys did a good job stepping up around him,” Malone said. “That was the difference as far as us getting back in the game. But there were a couple 50-50 balls that went their way and a couple of baskets that went their way and that was the difference.”
In the end, as fatigue set in, both squads went to the rack in isolation and settled for long jumpers.
“We’re in a pretty good place right now. We just have to continue doing what we do well,” Leichty said. “The extra practice defensively really paid off.”
Kannon Stillings led the Tigers (6-4) with 16 points and Burden finished with 10. WL-S was just 9-of-24 from the free throw line.
Triad (4-4) was led by Alec Ober’s 13 points and LeVan added 7. The Cardinals shot just 25 percent from the field for the game.
In the jayvee game, West Liberty-Salem prevailed, 33-19. Alex Fitzpatrick led the Tigers with 14 points, while Cody King added 6. Andrew O’Neal had 6 points for Triad.
WL-S won the 9th grade game, 61-29.
On Tuesday, West Liberty-Salem will host Cedarville and Triad will host Greeneview.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.