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‘Best Virginia’ Passes Test in Wheeling

WVU Alumni Team Overcomes An 11-0 Deficit

Photo by Cody Tomer Best Virginia’s John Flowers pops a 3-pointer from the corner during Friday’s exhibition game against the Underground Kings at Wheeling Park High School.

WHEELING — Best Virginia got the test it was looking for during Friday’s exhibition game against the Underground Kings at Wheeling Park High School.

The West Virginia alumni team fell behind 11-0 to start the game but quickly found its groove and came together to defeat the MEC alumni squad 77-63 using the Elam Ending.

“That was the ideal situation for us,” Cameron grad and former Mountaineer Logan Routt said. “We got down 11-0 and if we have to go through that in the TBT, we’ll say ‘hey, we’ve been there before. We have to turn it up.’ That shows us that we just can’t go out and try to beat people. (The Underground Kings) are an alternate for the TBT and they have good players — good hoopers out there, so this was a good experience.”

Former Notre Dame College standout Will Vorhees bucketed 23 points for the Kings, including two 3-pointers during the 11-0 spurt to start the contest. Former Mountaineer and Los Angeles Laker Devin Ebanks (6-foot-9, 215 pounds) charted 18 points for the Kings, forcing the Best Virginia defense to be on its toes early and often.

“We have to be ready to play and ready to go out of the gates,” Best Virginia assistant coach and current Morgantown High School boys’ basketball coach Dave Tallman said. “Our defense needs some work. We got exposed on some things in the first half but we’ll get great film on it and we’ll get into our training camp next week and get ready for Charleston.”

Best Virginia trailed 26-18 after one and it took a 3-point buzzer-beater by John Flowers to give the Mountaineers a 41-39 halftime advantage.

In the second half, however, Best Virginia began to showcase its size and athleticism — taking a 61-51 upper hand into the fourth and going into the Elam Ending with a 69-53 cushion.

“We were looking at how we play together and our substitutions coming in and how they are playing off of each other,” Best Virginia head coach James Long said.

“We’ll just use this as game reps and use it to get video and understand each other as a team.”

Juwan Staten paced Best Virginia with 26 points, Flowers tallied 12 and Kevin Jones added 11 in front of star-struck fans watching their favorite players lace up the sneakers.

“Mountaineer Nation was at its best and you could hear it from the first basket,” Long said. “You could feel the energy and we appreciate them coming out and I hope it was worth their time.”

Wheeling Central alum and former Mountaineer Chase Harler drained a 3 and a pair of free throws for five points after setting up the exhibition game in his hometown.

“This was fun and we had a great turnout,” Harler said. “One of my goals when I graduated from WVU was to try to give back to the valley. This was one of those things I was very glad to do.

“The fans had fun and it was a competitive game. We got something out of it and overall it was a great experience. It was good to face adversity. The last game we played was a blowout, so this was a lot of fun.”


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