The Charleston basketball program had good seasons this year, but it may be a while before Tigers fans want to make the long trip to Bergman again. It was not a good week for Charleston as the girls were defeated in a lopsided win by the host school Bergman Lady Panthers, and yesterday, the Tigers fell to the Elkins Elks in similar fashion. Yes, it was a tough week, but it has been a successful season for a young team that will return many of its players for next year. And before I get started, let me give a shout out to the many faithful Charleston fans who made the “cross-country” drive of almost three hours through hilly terrain to support their Lady Tigers and Tigers in the regional tournament. Charleston had a presence at the tournament, and next year should be even better for Tigers fans.
Charleston and Elkins are very familair with each other’s programs. The Elks and Tigers were in the same conference one year ago before the reallignment. This year, Elkins was the third seed from a very tough 3A-1 conference. In fact, in both the boys and girls brackets of the 3A West regional, the 3A-1 has dominated by nearly eliminating all of the top seeds from the 3A-4. For the most part, it will be 3A-1 district tournament part two as they move into the semifinals and finals. So there were no secrets going into Charleston’s game with Elkins.
And part of that “no secret” was the outstanding guard play of Charleston’s Brandon Scott. The Elks clearly went into the game with the intent of taking Scott out of the game by double-teaming him for much of the game, and letting its big inside presence take care of the basket. It is a strategy that Charleston has seen its opponents do in the past, but this time, Elkins had the inside game to make the strategy work.
In the first quarter, Elkins came out defensively denying Scott the basketball. The Elks dominated under the basket, getting easy inside shots and blocking Charleston drives to the basket. Charleston found a way to keep the game close with key outside shots, and when the quarter ended, Elkns had a 13-9 lead over Charleston.
Elkins broke the game open in the second quarter by outscoring the Tigers 24-12. The Elkins defense was playing smothering defense on Brandon Scott, and the inside game of Elkins was dominating anything that went inside. In a key moment of the quarter, Scott was fouled in three point territory and was given the chance at three free throws that would have significantly narrowed the lead and kept Charleston within striking distance. Scott, uncharacteristically, missed all three free throw attempts. Perhaps this was an effect from the tough defense he was facing on every trip down the floor, but it illustrated at the time the need for other Tigers shooters to step up and take off some of the scoring pressure from Scott in the game.
The Tigers struggled to find scoring from other players on the floor, especially with the inside dominance by Elkins. Senior Trenton Goodson played a good game, but he was also facing tremendous inside defense from Elkins. The Elks were successfully slowing both Scott and Goodson, and it forced the Tigers to struggle to score for the rest of the game. At the half, the Elks had extended their lead over Charleston to 37-21.
In the third, Charleston continued to play hard but could not slow the hot Elkins outside shooters. The Tigers were still being dominated inside, and when the quarter ended, Elkins had extended their lead to 53-34 over Charleston.
The fourth quarter was a continuance of the third, and by approximately three minutes to go in the game, both schools emptied their benches to give playing time to those players who have also worked so hard during the season. It was a tough way to end the season, but nevertheless, it was a successful season for a young Charleston team. The game ended with a final score of 79-50, and Elkins moves on to the second round of the regional tournament.
After the game, a proud Charleston coach, B. J. Ross said, “They (Elkins) had a little bit more in their tank. They got us with their depth and they shot it better than we did. I am proud of our team; they played hard from start to finish. Young team, a lot of promise coming back, and we are always proud to be a Tiger.”
I asked Coach Ross about Elkins’s strategy to denying Scott and letting their inside game shut off anything under the basket. Coach said, “People have tried that all year against us. But the people we have played do not have anyone as tall as he is at 6’5″ and as long as that guy is, but they did a great job. They denied Scott the ball, made us give it up, and when we went to the basket, we were going into 6’5″ under the basket with long arms. They did a good job and we got a little out-matched today, but I am so proud of them.”
So it is on to baseball, basketball, and track for area high schools. Resident Press wishes all of the remaining schools the best of luck in the regional and state tournaments. Our hats are off to the coaches, players, and school administrators who overcame the COVID obstacles and gave high schools a chance to play a complete season of basketball. The lessons learned from basketball should pay off with spring sports being able to start and complete their seasons, as well.
For me, I will move on to softball today with coverage of Dardanelle at Paris, weather permitting. But to all of the Charleston student athletes, parents, administration, and fans, I would like to say how much it has been a pleasure covering the Tigers, and I look forward to more coverage of Charleston sports this spring in baseball and softball seasons.
Additional photos of this game can be found on Facebook at Charleston Tigers Sports. Fans from both schools can view / download photos from the game at no charge.
Congratulations to the Charleston basketball program for a successful year in boys and girls basketball. Your futures are bright, and fans will be anxiously awaiting the upcoming seasons in 2021-22!