MOUNDSVILLE - Coming off of impressive Friday night victories, West Virginia Class AAA, Region One rivals Brooke and John Marshall were both looking to put the finishing touches on a nice, successful weekend Saturday night.
While Monarchs coach Bill Storm hoped his team might feed off the momentum it seemed to gain in a victory against Union Local, it was Dave Reitter's Bruins that managed to stay hot and record a second triumph in as many nights.
Brooke (12-7) started slow, but managed to take advantage of John Marshall's foul trouble in the second quarter to get some separation on the way to a 55-44 victory against the Monarchs (5-11) at the John Marshall Field House.
Having watched his team struggle scoring points all season long, Storm had hoped that the Monarchs' 77 points and 62 percent showing from the floor on Friday might provide the spark the Monarchs needed to get something going. But for whatever reason his team was just 1 of 10 in the first quarter for six points, and finished 16 of 57 for a meager 28 percent for the game.
"Other than (Friday), we seem to have at least one quarter every game that we score in single figures and it comes back to haunt us," Storm said. "I really thought the kids would come out feeling good after that win, and I thought we had some energy early, but when the ball isn't falling through the basket, and you can't score points, you are in trouble."
Both teams seemed to be in trouble early, as John Marshall led 4-0 with 3:59 showing in the first on its first field goal before senior Jessie Gambellin finally got the Bruins going with their initial tally on a put-back at the three-minute mark. The Monarchs made it a 6-2 game, however, Brooke scored the final 10 points of the frame to lead 12-6 after one.
Reitter's club seemed to take control with an 11-0 burst midway through the second that pushed the count to 27-13, but John Marshall answered with a closing 7-0 spurt for a 27-20 reading at halftime. Brooke's run came with seniors Evan Magers and Cole Sobutka both sitting on the pine with a pair of fouls each.
"Those two kids (Magers and Sobutka) play hard and I felt we did a good job taking advantage of them being on the bench," Reitter admitted. "We missed some shots inside early, but our bigs really started banging in there and it made a difference."
The third quarter turned out to be the difference maker, with the Bruins leading by as many as 18 points at 42-24 before settling for a 47-32 margin after three. A Gambellin deuce at 3:50 provided the biggest lead of the night at 53-33 before Brooke equaled it a short time later.
"I think both teams got off to a little bit of a slow start, but both were also coming off of big games Friday night," Reitter added. "When we started attacking the basket things started happening for us. Our kids were throwing around them and it helped get some easy baskets.
"We came out in a man-to-man in the third and was able to jump a couple of passes and get some break-outs. We are a much better team pushing the ball up the court. Overall, this is two very good wins for us in two nights. It is always good to beat a regional rival, but coming a night after beating Steubenville makes it even better."
For Storm it is all about his team improving down the stretch before the tournament.
"I really felt they were ripe to be beaten with (Hunter) Wallace out of the lineup," Storm said. "And we had opportunities early, but just didn't take advantage of them. I think we made some strides in some areas, but we just have to keep getting better.
"It was disappointing how we played (Saturday), we played hard late and stayed in the game, but I really expected more after Friday."
Eric Johnson paced the Bruins with 14 markers while freshman Thomas Cole had 12 points and 11 rebounds. Tanner Filben was John Marshall's only double-figure scorer with 13 tallies.