KEYSER - Mountain Ridge jumped out to a 19-6 lead at the end of the first period and outscored Keyser 19-12 in the second to carry a 38-18 lead into the half.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - Mountain Ridge jumped out to a 19-6 lead at the end of the first period and outscored Keyser 19-12 in the second to carry a 38-18 lead into the half.
While the Golden Tornado would outscore Ridge 23-21 in the second half, it would not be enough to overcome the Miners’ fast start, as the visitors from Frostburg toppled Keyser 59-41 in the season opener for both teams.
“That’s the best we have ever played and shot the ball at Keyser. Keyser is a tough place to play and Coach Haines does a good job, his kids play hard.  I just felt like we played like we were in mid-season form. I was just really happy and impressed with the way we played.  We passed the ball well, we shot the ball well, we made plays, we hustled, we looked for each other,” Mountain Ridge head coach Dave Hobel said in post-game comments.
It’s an honest assessment; often times coaches speak in “coach speak” and find flaws where there really aren’t any. For his part, Coach Hobel is telling the truth; his Miners played a complete game. Proof of that is the fact that as a team, they shot 87 percent from the free throw line, knocking down 13 of 15 shocks from the line.  
It all got started with a dominating 19-6 first period performance, spearheaded by senior Josh Metz, who scored 11 points in the game’s first eight minutes.  Metz would finish as the game’s highest scorer with 19 points in all.  
In that opening period, Metz landed three shots from beyond the three point line and one two point field goal. According to Coach Hobel, “Metz works year round on his game, and it showed tonight.”
Metz, with 19 points, was one of four Miners who scored in double figures. Tim Moore was second in scoring with 13 points, and Alec Deremer and Sean Brown added 12 and 10 points, respectively.  
Hobel credits senior leadership and work in the off season as keys to his team’s impressive opening performance.  
“We started four seniors and they’ve been good leaders, all our seniors have been good leaders. I think the experience really helped us and these guys put in a lot of work in the off season. We have a lot of kids that work on their game year round and I think that helped.”
For coach John Haines and Keyser, there’s a realization that it’s not where you start but where you finish. There were disappointments, but also some bright spots in the loss.  
“We didn't play up to our potential; they set in a zone the whole game, which we didn't hit shots and move the ball like we wanted too. We did make a few adjustments and play somewhat better the second half. I attribute that to players realizing they have to value every possession, find the open man, and work as a team,” Haines said after the game.
To their credit, Keyser did rally in the second half, and as mentioned, did in fact outscore Mountain Ridge 23-21 in the game’s closing periods. It just wasn’t enough to overcome the 20-point halftime deficit.  
Haines is quick to give credit where credit is due. Speaking specifically of the Miners’ dominating first half performance, Haines states, “Mountain Ridge is a well coached team. I attribute that fast start to them out working us and out coaching us. I take blame for the loss and slow start because I didn't have my team ready from the start.  It’s my job not to let that happen and I will make sure it doesn’t.”   
Keyser will rebound; there’s a long season ahead. In the loss, however, Keyser was able to work 10 separate players onto the scoring sheet.  “It's the first game,” Haines declares, “We will learn from it and life goes on.”  
But Haines has a message for his team: “As life goes on, we have to adjust on and off the court. Those that do will play, those that do not, won’t, regardless of who you are.  We play Hard  Intelligent  Together, that is our motto,  HIT.”   
The Golden Tornado were led in scoring by Brady Clay with 10 points and Reggie Redman with nine.  Haines was pleased with Clay and Redman’s performance but expects even bigger things for them ahead.  “Brady and Reggie should be a double-double player every night, their physicality and athleticism should help them perform to  their highest potential.”
Keyser travels to Marion County this weekend for back to back games. On Friday, the Tornado takes on East Fairmont at North Marion. On Saturday, it’s North Marion at East Fairmont.  
For Mountain Ridge, next up is Fort Hill on Friday night in Frostburg.
The Junior Varsity game was a close one, with Mountain Ridge winning a 44-42 overtime thriller over Keyser. Keyser was up by three when Mountain Ridge’s Jeff McKenzie hit a three pointer at the buzzer to tie things up and force overtime.
Mountain Ridge was led in scoring by Lee Castro with 13 points. For Keyser, Javin Barmore would lead the way with 13 as well.