Golden Tornado falls to Hampshire to end season

Chapin Jewell
Special to the News Tribune
Keyser's Hunter VanPelt is shown going strong to the basket against Hampshire on Wednesday.

KEYSER - The Hampshire Trojans had squared off against each other two times prior heading into Wednesday night’s sectional playoff contest at Sunrise Summit. Hampshire was a 30-point, 71-41 victor at Hampshire, and a 20-point, 52-32 victor at Keyser. This playoff game, a first round elimination game for the loser, would play out much the same way.

Utilizing their trademark active and aggressive defensive style of play, the host and top-seed in the sectionals Trojans stymied Keyser offensively and used defense to propel their offense in a 21-point, 59-31 victory.

Hampshire (12-4) now advances to host the sectional final, likely on Friday, against the winner of the Berkeley Springs/Trinity Christian contest. The loss closes the season for Keyser with the Golden Tornado finishing with a final record of 11-3.

“It’s been one of those years of ups and downs. We had a full 15 guys, some freshmen. Pretty much all year long we had our backs against the wall. We were in most games, it just seemed all year long we couldn’t get the ball to get into the hoop. But, the effort was there, the attitudes were great,” Keyser coach Johnny Haines stated.

Haines was quick to praise a senior class that gave it their all.

“This senior class was challenging at times, but they just left it all out there. They had great attitudes, they supported each other, they supported their teammates. They had great personalities and we’ll miss them.”

During Wednesday night’s contest, Hampshire doubled up Keyser to take an 18-9 lead at the conclusion of the game’s first period. The Trojans then nearly doubled of Keyser again in the second period with a 17-9 advantage to take a 35-18 advantage into the locker rooms at halftime.

After the break, the third period was closer, with Hampshire gaining only an 11-8 advantage in the frame to give the Trojans a 20-point, 46-26 lead heading into the fourth period. In that final stanza, a slim 13-12 advantage for the home team solidified Hampshire’s 21-point, 59-38 win.

Hampshire did the bulk of their damage with spirited defensive play.

“They’re just physical and they get after you, they’re up in your face. Coach Alkire does a great job, they play hard for him. I told him last night that if I was going to lose to anybody, I’d lose to Hampshire,” Haines stated.

According to Haines, “I wish him the best, he’s got a great group of kids. I did see most of them are seniors, so that’s a bright spot for Keyser. But, he just gets them to play hard and they respect their coach.”

In the winning effort, Hampshire was led by three players scoring in double figures. Trevor Sardo led the way with 18 points, Mikhi Anderson was close behind with 16 points, and Drew Keckley added 10 points. In addition, Christian Hicks tallied seven points, Carter Smith four points, and Zach Hill and Alex Hott two points each.

In the loss for Keyser, senior Vito Amoruso and freshman Noah Broadwater led the way in double figures with 10 points each. Darrick Broadwater was next with seven points, followed by Jacob Weinrich with three points. Hunter VanPelt, Seth Healy, Sam Bradfield and Lonnie Pridemore closed out the scoring with two points each.

Despite the craziness that has been scheduling and trying to navigate COVID protocols in the 2021 season, and a record that shows many more losses than victories, Haines is proud of the way his team has fought hard all season.

“Speaking of COVID, we’ve had probably 14 quarantines and it’s just been a crazy year, but they all kept their heads. Things like this, playing five games in seven days can be more of a mental challenge not only for coaches but also players, but they just stayed the course, believed in each other, did what they had to do, but just came up a little short.”

Just as Haines bids farewell to his senior class, he and the Golden Tornado faithful can look to the future with great optimism.

“We’ve got a good group coming up, we have juniors coming back, and freshmen and 10th graders. So, it’s going to be very challenging. I told them in there, they have to start working tomorrow if they want to get better. Obviously, we need to score the basketball,” Haines explained.

According to Haines, “We’ll see who wants to put in time in the offseason and I think the future is bright. It’s going to be very competitive in practice, which I think will turn over into our games.”