JM Takes Down Brooke
MOUNDSVILLE — John Marshall coach Chad Clutter will be the first person to tell you that his Monarchs are not a 3-point shooting team.
Wednesday night it was not only his team’s five 3-pointers that helped pave the way to a West Virginia Class AAA Region One, Section One victory, but the timeliness of all of them.
Senior standout Gunner Thompson scored a game-high 21 points, including three bombs from behind the arc and the John Marshall defense made life miserable for cold-shooting Brooke all night long in gaining a 53-30 triumph over the Bruins at the John Marshall Fieldhouse.
Not only was it the Monarchs’ (12-10) first victory over their rival on their home boards in more than two years, breaking a three-game losing streak, but the win sends Clutter’s squad into Friday night’s sectional championship game against Wheeling Park at the Patriots’ Palace on the Hill.
“I think we matchup well with Park, but I also believe they feel the same way about us,” Clutter said. “I honestly believe it is going to be a game where rebounding, turnovers and possessions are going to be huge. It will probably come down to whoever gets that one final good possession.”
Tuesday night good possessions were few and far in between for coach Cameron Koehler’s Bruins (8-13), who followed a Thompson 3-pointer with a pair of free throws to make it a 3-2 score more than a minute into the contest. However, bombs from Thompson and Tanner McLaughlin and a quick steal-and-hoop by Dustin Hall made it an 11-2 count a few minutes later.
By the time Brooke’s Justin Shelton buried his team’s first field goal of the night, with just 18 seconds left in the first, the visitors were already sitting in a 13-4 hole.
A Logan Williams basket to begin the second cut the score to 13-7, but it was the closest the Bruins could get the remainder of the night. John Marshall pushed the score to 24-13 at the break.
In all, Brooke was true on just 4 of 21 field goal attempts for the half for a 19 percent showing. The Bruins, who finished the night hitting 11 of 45 for 24 percent, were at or under 20 percent for most of the contest.
Shelton got the Bruins on the board first in the third period, but there wasn’t another field goal in the frame until Hall and Thompson both buried treys midway through the period that helped ignite a 7-0 run and led to a 33-17 reading with eight minutes to play.
A 10-1 Monarchs run to begin the final chapter made it a 43-18 margin and was more than enough to have John Marshall thinking ahead to Friday.
“It really isn’t like us to come out hitting 3-pointers,” Clutter said. “But when we get one or two, especially early on, that is definitely an advantage on our part. We are not going to force many, but if we get the chance to step into a few we can prove we can knock them down.
“We have been shooting around a lot and evidently it is making a difference.
“Our half-court defense has been great also, and I think that has to do with the fact that we are in better shape than some of the teams we have played.
“Gunner played another great game (Wednesday). He has such a low center of gravity and is a challenge to anybody in the open court. Plus, he has worked on his jumper and it shows.
“This is what we wanted. Brooke had beaten us three times in a row on our floor and we wanted to end that and get another shot at Wheeling Park.”
Junior Bryce Yoho backed Thompson with 11 points and the Monarchs grabbed a 30-22 edge off the glass while turning the ball over 16 times, one more than their guests.
Justin Pennybacker and Evan Cuomo evenly divided 14 points to lead the Bruins.
“Shooting has plagued us the entire second half of the season,” Koehler said.
“We just haven’t been able to execute or get many easy shots, and then when we don’t make them when we do get an easy one.”
Class AAA Regional Co-Finals
John Marshall 33
BUCKHANNON–Shay Straughn garnered a game-high 21 of John Marshall’s 33 points as the Monarchs’ season came to an end in a loss to host Buckhannon-Upshur in the regional finals.
Hanna McClung led the Bucs with 17 points.