Round for round in the first half Moorefield and East Hardy took the punches in the second edition of the Hardy Boys Hardwood Classic before the Cougars launched a right hook for a 13-point lead entering the fourth period and staved off a late rally uppercut by the Yellow Jackets slicing the deficit to two points and closed out the game on the free throw line for a 67-57 knock out win on senior night in Moorefield last Friday.
“We’ve been playing pretty well for the past month. Tonight with our huge lay-off I was worried we weren’t going to be very crisp, but I thought we did a very good job of coming out and executing well, battling with them. Tonight was a game against two good teams. They got their first punch in and set us back on our heels a little bit, then we had to adjust our defense a little bit. The kids did an excellent job of staying in it and treating every possession like it was really important and we just battled,” East Hardy coach Chris Hahn remarked.
“Every possession, we battled. Take nothing away from Moorefield, because they battled too. That was dog fight there. We press and run on everybody and it wears on you. At time it is real hot and at times it is just warm. When you are used to it being warm, then we turn it up on you causing some guys to misread it and get lazy with passes. our guys have done a great job of reading it and going after it and getting those steals. That’s the idea to just make everybody uncomfortable. We don’t matchup size-wise with everybody, so we have to do what little quick guards can do. Last time we played Moorefield at our place, they brought a ton of fans and it was loud and crazy. It was a good game and everybody knew that this was going to be like that, a good game on a Friday night. I thought our fans did great and I thought their fans made this place loud too. I think this win will put us in a stronger position for sectional seeding. We could play Moorefield again and could be at our place. We need the place to be crazy like it was tonight.”
The Yellow Jackets started all seniors for the game with Chase Vance, Brent Moran, Thomas Williams, Yosef Malaki and Addison Barb took the floor.
Moorefield’s Chase Vance commenced the scoring with a jumper at the 7:43 mark en route to a game-high 22 points.
After a foul by Malaki, the Cougars had a shot hit the rim and bounce off the board out of play.
There was a walk by Barb, then Williams collected a defensive rebound and the ball was stolen by East Hardy’s Bryce Tharp.
Tharp was fouled by Williams and netted both free throws as the Cougars tied the game at 6:44, 2-all.
Moran was whistled for a walk, but East Hardy missed field goals twice and the latter board was collected by Barb prior to a steal made by Dawson Price scoring as a result to take the lead at 5:52.
Tharp was called for a foul as Barb went crashing to the floor, then the Yellow Jackets missed a basket and the ball deflected off East Hardy out of bounds.
Moran connected with Trevor Shoemaker on an inbounds alley-oop play as Moorefield tied the contest.
The Cougars regained the lead on the ensuing possession as Tharp completed an old-fashioned three-point play after a foul by Shoemaker at 5:04.
Moorefield answered with a jumper by Vance 30 seconds later, 7-6.
Shoemaker hauled in a defensive carom and Vance garnered a 3-pointer to give the Yellow Jackets a 9-7 lead at the 3:40 mark.
Both teams missed opportunities with rebounds snatched by Vance and Shoemaker, then East Hardy’s Seth Smith made a steal and scored to tie the game at 2:57.
Shoemaker netted a shot in the paint on the next Moorefield possession to regain the lead.
Williams grabbed a defensive rebound and assisted Moran on a bucket at 2:05 for a 13-9 edge.
Smith notched a basket for the Cougars, then Christian Dove stole the ball and the ensuing shot missed with Malaki collecting the board for the Yellow Jackets.
Dove swiped the ball again and dished to Smith for a layup as East Hardy tied the game at 13-all with 1:13 left in the first period.
After a rebound by Shoemaker, the Yellow Jackets took a 15-13 lead on a jumper by Moran and carried the advantage into the second frame.
The Cougars opened the second period with a 3-pointer by Dove to take a 16-15 lead just ten seconds into the action.
Tharp made a steal with a pass to Dove assisting Smith on a layup at 7:24.
Malaki and Vance hauled in offensive rebounds before an offensive foul was called on the Yellow Jackets, then Jaydon See stole the ball and was fouled by East Hardy’s Adam Baker.
Moorefield threw the ball away trying to execute an inbounds pass, then Shoemaker fouled Smith during a layup attempt, who made one of two free throws for a 19-15 score at 6:10.
Baker was fouled on a defensive rebound by Shoemaker, then See blocked a shot.
Vance sank a mid-range jumper for the Yellow Jackets on the next series.
East Hardy hit the rim and Williams took the board, then Moorefield missed a field goal and a scramble ensued for the ball with See making the recovery to setup Moran tying the game at 19-all with 4:30 remaining in the second period.
A little over a minute later, Moorefield’s Coleman Mongold drilled a 3-pointer for a 22-19 lead.
The Cougars managed only a free throw on the next possession by Andrew Tharp.
Mongold made drive to the basket crashing into Bryce Tharp while passing the ball and a defensive foul was called, then See grabbed an offensive rebound before Andrew Tharp stole the ball.
East Hardy came up empty on that turnover with Malaki collecting the rebound, but Smith swiped the ball and made a layup to knot up the contest at 22-all with 2:13 left in the first half.
Smith got a piece of the ball as it was being dribbled and Dove snatched the ricochet for the steal, then Moran stole the ball back only to step out of bounds in the process.
The Cougars were called for a foul after a missed shot, then Justin Teets stole the ball and the Cougars missed twice with a rebound by Smith and a jump ball called.
Dove created a block and steal with a pass up to Teets for a basket as the Cougars took a 24-22 lead with 57 seconds on the clock.
Vance notched one free throw just four seconds later and Baker collected the rebound with a foul in tow.
Baker hit both free throws to put East Hardy up 26-23, :52.
Moran missed a layup and Baker collected the rebound, then Price scored on a putback.
Mongold knocked down a 3-pointer with six seconds remaining to cut the East Hardy edge to 28-26 at the break.
There were only four players on the floor for the Yellow Jackets as the second half was about to start and a fifth player was sent in just before the ball was handed off by the referee.
Moran scored on a layup just eight seconds into the second half to tie the game drawing a foul along the way and missed the charity stripe shot, 28-all.
Price grabbed the rebound for Cougars and Barb stole the ball for the Yellow Jackets before losing the ball out of bounds.
East Hardy missed two shots with rebounds by Andrew Tharp, then See blocked the next attempt and Williams chased down the ricochet with a pass to Vance, who was fouled and added both free throws giving Moorefield a 30-28 lead at 7:20.
No, there wasn’t a rabbit on the floor, but rather Dove hopping into the paint trying to pull up again for a shot and was called for a walk.
The Yellow Jackets have one more week left before entering the playoffs to battle for a state tournament berth with East Hardy challenging to do the same.