Tyler Returns to State Tourney
Silver Knights down Cameron for first trip since ’02
MIDDLEBOURNE — When Rick Leach took back the coaching reigns at Tyler Consolidated, he thought that this year’s team had a shot at making it to the state tournament based off what he saw during the summer.
On Wednesday night, the Silver Knights made that a reality.
During a West Virginia Class A Region One Co-Final, Tyler Consolidated overcame a 10-point deficit and defeated Cameron, 61-49, to punch its ticket to Charleston for the first time since 2002.
Tyler Consolidated will face top-seeded Wheeling Central in the first round of the West Virginia Class A state tournament.
“I’ve been gone for 11 years and I was doing an evaluation and I told them I thought we had a shot by what I saw, we could do some good things,î” Leach said. “Obviously it’s worked out that way. We have talent and it’s just a matter of getting structure with them and do what we have to do. The biggest part of (Wednesday’s) game was our foul shooting in the fourth quarter. It was unbelievable. We struggled all year at the foul line. I think as a team we shoot like 64 percent.”î
The Silver Knights went 24 of 29 from the foul line including Dylan Roberts going 14 of 14 in a chippy fourth quarter. Trey Scott drained three straight shots from the free-throw line to get the Dragons within three, 49-46, with 1:15 left in the game, but the Silver Knights were able to respond with a Garrett Ross basket. Afterward, Tyler Consolidated hit 10 straight free throws, including a pair after a intentional foul and a technical foul, to make it 61-46. Roberts finished with 17 points, going 15 of 16 from the line.
“That was the key, he wanted the ball,”î Leach said. “He said, ‘Coach, I want to shoot them.’ I said, ‘Go get the ball.’ That was the key.î”
Cameron opened the game with a 3-pointer from Colby Brown, but then saw Tyler Consolidated score the next 11 points during the next two minutes. The Dragons, though, put together the biggest run of the night. A Robert Milliken bucket at the 4:32 mark sparked an 18-0 that went into the second quarter to give the Dragons a commanding 21-11 lead with 6:10 left in the first half. Milliken capped the spurt with his fourth bucket of the half.
“We went on a good run. We were playing really good defense and we were rebounding,î” Cameron coach Tom Hart said. “There were several times where we didn’t get the long rebound and that did hurt us. We got in a pretty good rhythm there in the first quarter and the start of the second. Then it was kind of back and forth there for a while. Our kids battled.”
Milliken led the way for the Dragons as he scored 14 points while Brown contributed with 11. Scott and Aidan Lucey each had nine.
Griffin Phillips led the offensive charge for the Silver Knights. Scoring nine points in the first quarter, he hit five shots from behind the arc, four of which came in the second and third quarter that were vital in the comeback. Phillips drained a long range shot with 38 seconds to go in the second quarter to get the Silver Knights to within four, 25-21. He came right out of the game in the third quarter hitting another 3-pointer to put the score at 25-24. Less than a minute later, Phillips tied the game at 27-27 with another long ball.
“This is a really important game,” Phillips said. “We really wanted to win this game. My teammates kept getting shots, I kept getting them open shots and we ran our offense really well in the first half. It was just a good, overall team win.”
Phillips finished with a game-high 23 points while Mark Rucker was also solid with 10 points going 8 of 10 from the foul line.
The Silver Knights took the lead for good after a Roberts bucket with 3:26 left in the third as the score read, 31-29. The Dragons were able to get it within two at the start of the fourth, but that was as close as they got.
Cameron’s 19 wins this season is the second most in school history and is tied with the 2005 team.
“I can’t say enough about our seniors,” Hart said. “Robert, Colby and Trey. They led us all year and its going to be a big loss for us. They are three great athletes and they’ve had a great athletic career. Playoffs in football and they had success in basketball as well. My hats off to them and we got a good, solid group of guys coming back. We’re looking forward to those guys moving up and we have a nice group of incoming freshman. We’re looking forward to it.”