PETERSBURG- The Golden Tornado strategy paid off for 3 quarters. What was the strategy? To play physical and get 6'9 Jude Akabueze into early foul trouble. Last year the North Marion Huskies center averaged 18.9 points per game while pulling down 17.6 rebounds per game. After receiving offers from West Virginia, Baylor, Virginia Tech and others, one month ago Jude Akabueze signed his National Letter of Intent to play basketball for the UAB Blazers.
Obviously Keyser had their hands full in the paint, but the Golden Tornado were not intimidated by the size of the Huskies. In the first quarter Keyser was able to put up 12 points as Jackson White and Ryan Shoemaker were able to hit a pair of 3’s from beyond the arc to keep Keyser in the contest while Brady Ours did damage down in the paint putting up 4 points. North Marion was able to score 13 points, but the Golden Tornado benefited from physical interior play as Jude Akabueze picked up 2 early fouls which put him on the bench for the majority of the 2nd quarter. With Akabueze sipping Gatorade on the bench, Keyser found their stride on offense scoring 19 points in the 2nd quarter. Everything was looking good for the Black and Gold at halftime as they led the Huskies 31-26. At the start of the 2nd half, Keyser once again applied pressure against #23 of the Huskies and immediately Akabueze was called for a reach in foul and Coach Freeman put the big man back on the bench. However, Keyser could not take advantage as they could only muster 5 points in the 3rd quarter, in part to the physical response of North Marion. On both ends of the court the referees allowed play to continue as the basketball game began to resemble a hockey match.
The frustration of the lack of calls boiled over for Keyser as #2 Trevlan Baker was called for a technical foul after voicing his displeasure with a call. Then Coach Haines received a technical foul for voicing his malcontent after no foul was called on a drive to the basket just few plays later.
Tied 36-36 heading into the 4th quarter, Keyser was still in good position to steal a win from the No.6 ranked AA team in WV, but the interior presence of the Huskies and their ability to score in the paint was the difference down the stretch as North Marion scored 18 points, led by Akabueze’s 8 points. On the other end of the court the Huskies held Keyser to only 2 points. If the Golden Tornado could have found a way to keep Akabueze on the bench, then perhaps they could have pulled out the victory. Since the men in stripes decided to swallow their whistle late in the 2nd half, the physical play favored the team with the decisive size advantage.
Statistically for the Golden Tornado, the team spread the wealth scoring the basketball. Jackson White was the only Keyser player in double figures with 11 points and hitting three 3 pointers. Brady Clay scored 5 points, all of them in the 2nd quarter while his teammate Ryan Shoemaker also scored 5 points, all in the first half.
Marlon Dorsett and Brady Ours both finished with 4 points while Trevlan Baker scored 3 points. Jacob Hanlin, Jacob Biser, and Sean See all finished with 2 points.
For the North Marion Huskies Tristan Hulderman led the way with 16 points, Gunner Murphy posted 15 points, and Jude Akabueze finished with 12 points.