Frozen by Nunn
Bluefield (50) Vs. Fairmont Senior (63)
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
CHARLESTON — After having engineered a fifth consecutive trip to the WVSSAC Class AA state tournament, Bluefield’s boys basketball team had its heart set on winning it all.
Fairmont Senior decided it was having Nunn of that.
Senior point guard Daharius Nunn was a whirlwind on both ends of the floor, leading the Polar Bears to a 63-50 victory over the Beavers in Wednesday morning’s opening Class AA quarterfinal game at the Charleston Civic Center Coliseum.
“These guys had an outstanding year and we lost to a very good basketball team. They have their opportunity to probably be in the finals Saturday,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large, whose team led 35-34 at intermission after an impressive 20-point first half from guard Jeremy Thompson.
Nunn scored 15 of his team-leading 21 points in an epic second-half effort that enabled Fairmont to permanently wrest momentum from Bluefield (15-8).
Fairmont Senior (21-5) will face Bridgeport (23-2) in Friday’s opening semifinal game, which again will tip-off at 9:30 a.m.
Polar Bears head coach David Retton humorously understated the importance of his star guard’s performance.
“He’s pretty good,” said Retton with a mild grin.
“He’s a coach on the floor in how he manages the team. When he talks, guys listen,” said Retton, who got 10 points from Brennan Moorehead, nine from Justin Lee and eight apiece from Zyon Dobbs and Dante’ Stills.
Nunn distributed seven assists and collected eight steals on the defensive end He was credited with only two second-half steals but lent a disruptive hand to the other five of seven second-half turnovers committed by Bluefield point guard Mookie Collier — Nunn’s primary defensive assignment.
“I just pressured him the best I can ... try to turn him and make him dribble more with his off-hand. That’s the biggest thing,” said Nunn, who is committed to Glenville State. “(Collier) is one of the quickest guards I’ve played all year. Sometimes when I pressured him he’d just go right past me.”
The Bears were trailing 36-39 with 4:29 in the third period when Nunn exploded for four consecutive buckets of a 10-1 run. After Collier’s lone free throw with 2:30 remaining in the quarter, a charge taken by center Tyler Easley was the Beavers’ chief accomplishment for the rest of that period.
Nunn delivered the ball outside to Moorehead for a 3-pointer as the last second ticked off, carrying the Polar Bears into the final frame leading 49-40.
Collier, who took over the point for Bluefield after starter Donta Hopkins was sidelined with his second concussion of the season, committed 12 of the Beavers’ 24 team total turnovers.
Conversely, Collier scored eight of his 10 points in the second half after the Polar Bears collectively froze out Thompson. He infused the Bluefield fans with hope when he stroked a 3-pointer with 7:15 remaining in the game and followed up by driving to the hole to trim Fairmont’s lead to six.
A 30-second media timeout six seconds later interrupted the comeback. A 3-pointer by Nunn at 6:26 banished it for good.
“They had a really good guard on me. They studied film and saw what I do ... that’s attack. Every time I attacked they’d take the charge. After I got my third foul, I had to limit what I do best,” said Collier. “I thought ... if they were doing this, I had to start shooting it more and make them respect the jump shot. “
Collier, a sophomore, was playing at an off-guard spot when the Beavers faced Fairmont Senior during the regular season in January. Wednesday’s game was an humbling experience, but one certain to inform his already-sterling work ethic.
“(Nunn) is a really good guard. He can shoot, pass, defend. He can just do it all, sir,” Collier said.
In the first half, Bluefield shot 71.4 percent from the field (15-for-21). Thompson led the way, a lone errant 3-point attempt the only thing standing between himself and a perfect first-half shooting spree.
He shot 8-for-9 from the field in the first half but was 9-for-15 for the game after Fairmont made its halftime adjustments. Multiple Polar Bears switched off on Thompson, but Bryson Gilbert became his primary defensive antagonists. Thompson finished with six rebounds on the day.
“They changed their defense. They were facing me. They didn’t help off me at all. So it was a little harder to come off. The shot just wasn’t falling. Mook came out and played better in the second half and picked up my slack,” said Thompson, who finished with 22 points.
“The first half I was just feeling good. They were in my face the whole second half, but I had a couple of open shots I should’ve knocked down for my team. That was on me,” said Thompson, whose buzzer-beating 3 put Bluefield up 18-14 headed into the second quarter.
With two minutes remaining to play in the first half, Bluefield led 33-28 thanks to a trifecta and transition layup by Thompson capped by an Easley mid-range jumper.
Moorehead stroked a 3-pointer to trim the lead to two points with 2:06 showing. Collier was whistled for a charge on the subsequent Beavers possession and freshman Jalen Bridges knocked down a 3-pointer as the half expired to keep the Polar Bears within one.
Devon Goins had seven points for Bluefield, including a second-quarter 3-pointer that forced Fairmont to momentarily adjust its defensive priorities. Easley had six rebounds.
“I thought we had a wonderful game plan. We were going to slow the ball down. We were going to get back on defense and slow their transition down. That didn’t happen. We got a little bit out of control in the third quarter but good teams find ways to make things happen,” said Large.
“I think they extended our defense a little bit and that bothered us. But ... we had every opportunity to stay in this ballgame and have a chance to win.”

At Charleston Civic Center Coliseum
Tyler Easley 1 0-0 2, Devon Goins 3 0-0 7, Jaray Williams 3 0-0 6, Jeremy Thompson 9 1-2 22, Mookie Collier 4 1-3 10, Dominick Taxley 0 0-0 0, Ryan Davis 0 0-0 0, Dyon Wright 1 1-2 3. Totals 21 3-7 50.
Darhius Nunn 10 0-2 21, Brennan Moorehead 3 2-2 10, Justin Lee 4 1-2 9, Zyon Dobb 1 5-7 8, Dante’ Stills 2 4-6 8, DeAndre’ Payne 1 0-0 2, Bryson Gilbert 0 2-2 2, Joseph Leon 0 0-0 0, Jalen Bridges 1 0-0 2, Ben Taylor 0 0-0 0, Tanner Amos 0 0-0 0, Brandon Shields 0 0-0 0, Talon Miller 0 0-0 0. Totals 22 14-21 63.
Bluefield.....................18 17 5 10 — 50
Fairmont Senior.........14 20 15 14 — 63
3-point goals: Bluefield 5-14 (Easley 0-1, Goins 1-4, Williams 0-1, Thompson 3-5, Collier 1-3). Fairmont 5-14 (Nunn 1-3, Moorehead 2-4, Dobbs 1-1, Payne 0-1, Gilbert 0-3, Bridges 1-2).
Game Scoreboard
Bluefield 18 17 5 10 0 50
Fairmont Senior 14 20 15 14 0 63
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