Beating the Bees
Princeton (46) Vs. East Fairmont (43)
Dec 12, 2015
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
PRINCETON — The Princeton Tigers kept as busy as the Bees on a warm December afternoon, and generated a honey of a win.
Holding off one challenge after another, Prince-ton held on at the Ralph Ball Court for a 46-43 victory Satur-day over the visiting Bees of East Fair-mont High School, raising the Tigers’ season mark to 2-0.
Matching the scrambling intensity of the visitors, the Tigers launched a 13-0 scoring run that began late in the first quarter to take a 22-14 edge with 3:36 to go in the first half.
“That’s what we strive to do this year, with this particular group of kids,” said Princeton head coach Ernie Gilliard. “We don’t want to allow anybody to out-work us. And I think that’s paying off.”
“This group of kids, they share the ball well. That makes us an extremely diverse team (and) they play to each other’s strengths.”
The Bees (1-1) responded with baskets by three players on three straight possessions to create a 22-22 tie on Ty Lawson’s 3-pointer. Cole Cochran broke that tie via a bucket from the paint with four seconds to go to give the home squad a two-point lead at halftime.
Both sides took the lead in the third quarter, but neither gained more than a three-point margin. Colton Fix broke the game’s final tie, launching an off-balance 3-point try from midcourt just before the buzzer to signal the end of the third period.
It swooshed through and Princeton led 37-34.
Fix continued his strong play in the final eight minutes. He pulled off two critical steals, scored on a drive that spanned half the court for a 45-39 advantage, and notched Princeton’s final point on a free throw with 21 seconds left.
One second later on the game clock, Princeton committed its seventh foul of the half and Jesse Maddox of East Fairmont converted both halves of his one-and-one opportunity, creating a one-possession finish.
The Bees got off two final shots, but both missed the hole and Princeton’s Logan Watkins stood under the net with a defensive rebound as the final buzzer sounded.
Gilliard said, “We wanted to challenge them (on the final 3-point tries) but we didn’t want to foul. Most importantly, we wanted to make sure they caught the ball up front. And then, on the end of that, we’ve got to make sure that if they miss it, we had the rebound.”
“It was a tough game, the whole game,” Cochran said. “They played us hard.”
“Toward the end, we just realized that we had to work hard to maintain the lead, and not let the diminishing lead get into our heads.”
Cochran led Princeton with 16 points on seven field goals and a free throw. Jacob Whittington chipped in 14.
Andrew Slusser of East Fairmont was the day’s top scorer with 17 points, including four treys. The Bees made eight 3-point tries, and seven of the 2-point variety.
Gilliard said he expected a close contest. “They’re a very methodical team, very well-coached. They’ve got some good hard-nosed kids and they don’t quit. Coach (Tyrone) Asterino does a fantastic job with them.”
“We had some opportunities where we got a little cushion, but then our decision-making got bad and as a result we allowed them to get back in the game. So we’ve got to make sure that we clean up our decision-making at crucial times.”
Princeton hosts county rival Bluefield on Tuesday at the county seat, a game that Gilliard termed as “always huge.”
“I’m sure they’re going to be extremely, extremely dialed in and focused, simply because they had a little bump in the road this past week (Saturday’s 55-42 loss at Graham). We’ll have to come in on Monday and ... get ready to go.”
The coach said, “Every ounce of positive outcome that we get serves as a building block. Hopefully, they’re going to build on top of all of the good that was here.
“And even though we have to look at some of the things that we didn’t do so well, we use those as a learning tool, so we don’t make the same mistake twice.”
Cochran said Saturday’s win was “a confidence booster. We’re 2-0. We feel good about it.”
Speaking from some experience with the Princeton-Bluefield rivalry, he said about Tuesday, “We’ve got to hustle, we’ve got to play defense, we’ve got to work hard.”
— Contact Tom Bone at

At Coach Ralph Ball Court
Jesse Maddox 2 3-3 8, David McQuain 2 0-0 5, Ty Lawson 1 0-0 3, Andrew Slusser 6 1-3 17, Michael Gaskill 4 1-4 10. Totals 15 5-10 43.
Colton Fix 3 1-2 8, Jacob Whittington 5 2-3 14, Cole Cochran 7 1-2 16, Logan Watkins 2 0-0 4, L.J. Reed 1 0-0 2, Garrison Hartwell 1 0-0 2, Bryson Murphy 0 0-2 0. Totals 19 4-9 46.
East Fairmont..............14 8 12 9 — 43
Princeton......................11 13 13 9 — 46
3-point goals — EF 8 (Slusser 4, Maddox 1, McQuain 1, Lawson 1, Gaskill 1). PSHS 4 (Whittington 2, C. Fix 1, Cochran 1). Total fouls — EF 14, PSHS 14. Fouled out — none. JV game — Princeton won 47-41.
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Princeton 11 13 13 9 0 46
East Fairmont 14 8 12 9 0 43
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