Beavers deny Patriots an upset
Bluefield (67) Vs. Independence (52)
Jan 29, 2016
Staff report
BECKLEY — Every good heavyweight has a wicked one-two punch he can go to in times of trouble.
That one-two punch for Bluefield would be Mookie Collier and Jeremy Thompson. The lethal combination prevented the upset bid by Independence Friday, leading the No. 8 Beavers to a 67-52 win in the Greater Beckley Classic at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
“(I’m) very happy to get this win. We have been off for awhile with the snow, and to get a win against a good quality regional opponent was great,” said Bluefield head coach Buster Large. “Coach (Chad) Perkins and his staff do a great job.”
Early, the game looked like Independence would make good on its upset bid. The Patriots controlled the game early, confusing the Beavers with their solid zone defense and smooth shooting from Chris Mills.
The Patriots built a 23-16 lead with just over three minutes left in the first half behind 14 points from Mills, but then Collier took over and Bluefield’s defense stepped up to another level.
The Beavers switched to a box-and-one to slow down Mills and broke the rhythm of the Patriots.
“We got off to a great start. It was right where we wanted it with Chris being super hot for us,” said Perkins. “Then they changed defenses, we got confused a little and closed the half bad.”
Bluefield closed the half on an 11-3 run that dazed the Patriots, taking a 25-23 halftime lead. Independence never seemed to recover from the blow. Collier finished the half with 11 points in the second quarter and 13 for the half, while Thompson added nine.
Bluefield made some adjustments and built off the momentum of the second quarter. The Beavers revved up the defensive intensity to start the second half, converting turnovers into easy buckets and took a 10-point lead only three minutes into the third period.
“We started a little slow and the zone was causing us trouble, but credit my assistant coaches. We made some adjustments at the half that really helped us,” explained Large.
Markus Guy hit a layup to cut the lead to eight, only to see Bluefield push the lead to 13, ending the quarter up 46-35.
The Patriots made one last run three minutes into the final period. Down by 12 points, the Patriots’ press began to give Bluefield trouble. Four quick turnovers, however, could only be converted into one bucket and Bluefield regrouped, building an 18-point lead with three minutes to go.
Independence’s leading scorer, Tyler Haga, was held to one-point through three quarters and Mills scored just two points after his hot start and the change in defense for the Beavers.
Although his team struggled, Perkins gave the credit to Bluefield’s defense.
“I have to give Bluefield a lot of credit, because we weren’t getting good looks at the basket,” he said. “They geared their defense to (Haga). He will have to get used to that, but we all have to step up and do a better job when things get tough.”
The win for Bluefield was a confidence builder, knowing it faces a tough task tonight against Class AAA No. 2 Woodrow Wilson in the very same building.
“We seem to struggle here at the Armory for some reason, but tonight I was very pleased with the effort and the way we played together as a team,” said Large.
Collier finished with a game-high 27 points and Thompson scored 20 for Bluefield. Mills ended with 16, while Haga and Aaron Hunt scored 10 each for Independence.
Independence will play Oak Hill today at noon on day two of the GBC Classic.

At Beckley-Raleigh County CC
Independence (6-6)
Shane Sexton 0 1-2 1, Tyler Haga 3 4-6 10, Kyle Saunders 1 2-3 4, Adam Tolliver 1 0-0 2, Chris Mills 6 0-0 16, Markis Guy 2 1-4 5, Logan Kelly 1 2-4 4, Aaron Hunt 4 2-4 10. Totals: 18 12-23 52.
Bluefield (7-4)
Dante Hopkins 1 1-2 3, Jeremy Thompson 7 4-6 20, Mookie Collier 9 9-10 27, Devin Goins 1 0-0 2, Dominick Taxley 1 1-2 3, Dyon Wright 4 2-2 10, Nathan Pettus 0 0-2 0, Jamere Edwards 1 0-1 2 Totals: 24 17-25 67.
Independence.......11 12 12 17 — 52
Bluefield..................8 17 21 21 — 67
3-point goals: I: 4 (Mills 4); B: 2 (Thomspon 2). Fouled out: Goins (B).
Nightly Roundup
Game Scoreboard
Bluefield 8 17 21 21 0 67
Independence 11 12 12 17 0 52
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