FROSTBURG, Md. - On a chilly Thursday night in Western Maryland, the hot hand of Devin Smith warmed the Mountain Ridge gym as he fired up 30 points to lead the Miners over the Golden Tornado 76-65.
Devin Smith's jersey appropriately displays the numeral uno, and after 32 minutes of play, there was no question about who was the number one player on the court. The 6'0 senior displayed his ability to shoot the basketball more than doubling the scoring output of any other player on the hardwood. In the locker room prior to tipoff, Mountain Ridge Head Coach David Hobel gave a pregame speech to mentally prepare his kids for the type of team they were about to face."I told our kids repeatedly that Keyser plays hard all the time. Coach Haines does a great job of getting his kids to play hard." Coach David Hobel
Obviously Coach Hobel did his homework scouting Keyser because the team plays extremely hard all 32 minutes of the game. Need proof? Just ask the Berkeley Springs staff.
Shortly after tipoff Mountain Ridge gained possession and Coach Hobel called a timeout. The timeout was incredibly unconventional as neither team had yet scored a basket. Nevertheless the strategy paid off as Coach Hobel noticed an opportunity to take advantage of a favorable matchup. The early timeout sparked the Miners offense with Mountain Ridge jumping out to an early 11-1 lead, only four minutes into the contest. Credit Keyser Coach John Haines for weathering the storm, identifying the mismatch, calling a timeout, and making several substitutions which in turn ignited the Golden Tornado offense. After eight minutes of play the Miners held a slim lead 20-19.
In the 2nd quarter Mountain Ridge played smart defense by preventing Keyser from driving in the paint. This scheme resulted in the Golden Tornado attempting 0 shots from the free throw line. On the other end of the gym, PG Devin Smith put on a scoring clinic throwing down 16 points to stretch the Miners lead 42-34 at intermission.
After a spirited halftime speech and some necessary adjustments, the Golden Tornado clamped down in the 3rd quarter. Coach Haines decided to crank up the intensity defensively as the team shifted to a full court press. The constant pressure from the Golden Tornado created turnovers and shifted the momentum in favor of the black and gold. In addition Keyser tightened up their perimeter defense preventing Mountain Ridge from gaining open look 3-pointers. Specifically Keyser keyed on Devin Smith and the strategy paid off. Smith was held without a field goal in the 3rd quarter, effectively stalling the Miners offense. Midway through the third quarter, Keyser's offense seized the opportunity and went on a 12-3 run to give them a 51-47 advantage. For the remainder of the 3rd quarter the teams traded baskets with Mountain Ridge hitting a shot just before the buzzer to take a 58-56 lead heading into the 4th quarter.
Was the full court press too much for the Miners? Coach Hobel explained how his team responded facing full court pressure, "Our guys did a real good job of just hanging in there, adjusting and looking up-court and hitting the open man."
As pressure mounted late in the game Devin Smith showed ice in his veins. The senior PG was comfortable on his home court as time wound down nailing a clutch three-pointer and draining four free throws to ice the game. While Smith was busy stuffing the stat sheet and grabbing the headlines, the Miners victory can also be attributed to their teams ability to endure a physical and grinding game. Coach Hobel commented on how his team prevailed, "It was a total team effort because we just kept rolling guys in and out."
Mountain Ridge benefitted from the usage of a deep bench in the 2nd half however Keyser was not afforded the same luxury. In hindsight, Golden Tornado injuries were a significant factor in the final outcome. Midway through the 3rd quarter Keyser lost its leading scorer, senior forward Jacob Hanlin, to a knee injury. As Hanlin was helped off the court, the Golden Tornado were clinging to a one possession lead. In addition, junior forward Trevlan Baker and junior guard William Ack both suffered physical ailments that prevented them from playing most of the 2nd half. On top of the injury factor, the bench was short for Coach Haines late in the game as senior forward Brady Ours fouled out.
Overall the game was a brilliant battle between two evenly matched teams and ironically both teams now sport a winning percentage of .500. The victory improved the Miners overall record to (4-4), while the Golden Tornado record stands at (5-5). [Overall Records as of Jan.19th]
Although Jacob Hanlin suffered a knee injury which prevented him from playing in the final 12 minutes of the game, he was one of the leading scorers for Keyser with 14 points. Sophomore PG Ryan Shoemaker also finished with 14 points scoring 10 points in the first half. Senior Brady Clay found his way to the hoop scoring 11 points, while junior guards Jackson White and Jacob Biser each scored 9 points. Marlon Dorsett added 5 points and Brady Ours chipped in 3 points.
For the Miners Devin Smith scored 30 points off of five 3-pointers, four 2-pointers, and going 7 for 8 from the charity stripe. Josh Metz went 6 for 7 from the free throw line and finished with 13 points. Alec Deremer was also in double digits scoring 8 in the first quarter and finishing the game with a total of 11 points. Tim Moore scored all 6 of his points in the 4th quarter, while Brent Hughes and Seth Jones tossed in 4 points each. Mountain Ridge will take a trip to Mineral County on Friday February 9th to play against the Golden Tornado on their home court. The rematch is scheduled with a tipoff time of 7:30PM.