KEYSER - Keyser opened the season with a signature win over the Bishop Walsh Burgundy squad in Cumberland. The next victim was East Fairmont, who Keyser defeated convincingly 69-50. Then came a two skid, the first loss being to the hottest team in the region North Marion, the second to Grafton, a team that snake-bit Keyser in the sectional playoffs last season.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
KEYSER - Keyser opened the season with a signature win over the Bishop Walsh Burgundy squad in Cumberland. The next victim was East Fairmont, who Keyser defeated convincingly 69-50. Then came a two skid, the first loss being to the hottest team in the region North Marion, the second to Grafton, a team that snake-bit Keyser in the sectional playoffs last season.
Keyser got back into the win column with a dominating 71-36 over Tucker County in advance of Thursday’s matchup with neighbor and rival Hampshire. Against the Trojans, Keyser picked up right where they left off against Tucker County.
The Golden Tornado used a stifling defensive performance to limit Hampshire to nine points in the first quarter, six points in the second and only three points in the third en route to a decided 42-18 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Hampshire scored 16 points in the fourth quarter, just two points shy of their combined output in the game’s first three quarters. The damage, however, was already done, as Keyser rolled to a 49-34 victory.
“I have to give Coach Alkire credit, he turned their team around and I knew he would. Then, them beating Frankfort I thought was a statement game for them. We hadn’t played anyone in the area yet, other than Bishop Walsh, so I think this gives us somewhat of a take on where we are in the area. It’s a good win against a AAA team that’s beat some quality opponents, that makes us a look a little better,” Keyser coach John Haines Jr. said after the contest.
In a way, Haines feels that this is somewhat of a statement game for the Black and Gold, so far as the area is concerned, “I would say for the area, yes, this is somewhat of a statement game. I mean it will always be Keyser and Frankfort in terms of our best rivalry, and always will be, and they (Frankfort) got us the last two times.  But, seeing that Hampshire beat Frankfort, I’d say this is our first statement game for the area.”
While Keyser employed a balance offensive attack, it was their defensive performance that sealed the deal. Hampshire’s 34 points was not only the lowest scoring output for the Trojans on the season, it’s also the fewest points Keyser has yielded as well. Be it inside or outside, the Golden Tornado was at the top of their game in thwarting Hampshire’s offensive attempts.
“I just thought the kids came out and wanted it and the intensity was there.  We’re pretty athletic, so the kids got some loose balls, got some deflections, and more importantly we got some steals and translated them into offense. I thought that everyone contributed, from the top of the 1-3-1 to the bottom of the 1-3-1. It was a great team defensive effort,” Haines explained.
Keyser jumped out to a lead in the first quarter but Hampshire kept it close at 12-9. It was the second and third quarters, however, where Keyser’s masterful defensive performance kicked in.  The Black and Gold outscored Hampshire 14-6 in the second quarter and 16-3 in the third quarter, a total advantage of 30-9 in that 16-minute span.
In the loss, Hampshire was led by Trevor Sardo and Drew Keckley with eight and seven points respectively. Additionally, Carter Smith, Christian Hicks and Matt Kerns contributed four points each, while Caleb Cannon added three points and Mikki Anderson two points.
Offensively, Keyser was led by Amare Kennedy who led the Tornado with a game-high performance of 13 points. In addition, both Ryan Shoemaker and Shawn See scored in double figures for Keyser, each with 10 points apiece.  PJ Kennedy and Darrick Broadwater tallied seven points each and Darius Redman scored two points to round out the scoring.
“I’m very happy for Amare because he is capable of doing that every single game. I think that he had been a little reserved because he was only a sophomore going up with his big brother and other seniors, but if he can give us those minutes every night, then those other seniors need to step up.  It was a good scorebook though, we had three games in double digits,” Haines stated.
The victory elevates the Golden Tornado to a record of 4-2 and gives Keyser a two-game win streak and more importantly momentum heading into a three-game stretch next week that includes a trip to Southern, a home game against Petersburg, then a trip to Frankfort.
While the varsity game was somewhat lopsided, the junior varsity contest between Keyser and Hampshire was a close, hard-fought affair.  Keyser overcame a 23-15 halftime deficit to rally in the second half with 15 third quarter points and 19 in the fourth to tie and game at 49-49 and force overtime.
In the overtime period, Hampshire edged Keyser 9-6 to earn the close, 58-55 victory. The junior Trojans were led by Easton Shanholtz with 17 points, followed in double figures by Ashton Haslacker with 15 points and Zack Hill with 12 points. In addition, Cohen Mowery tallied nine points while Alex Hott netted five.
For the junior Tornado in the loss, Hunter Vanpelt scored a game-high 19 points, 15 of which came after halftime. Also in double figures with Sammy Bradfield with 12 points and Vito Amoruso with 10 points. In addition, Lonnie Pridemore contributed four points with Alec Stanislawczyk adding two points.
Keyser will next face Southern in Oakland on Tuesday, Jan. 14.  Junior varsity action will tipoff at 6 p.m., followed by varsity action at 7:30 p.m.