Prep boys basketball: Jackets fall to Rebels

WILLIAMSTOWN – Ritchie County’s style doesn’t allow anyone to settle into a comfort zone.

Take Tuesday night’s game at Williamstown High School for example.

With his ballclub trailing 21-17 at halftime, Chandler Weber knocked down consecutive 3-pointers to put the Yellowjackets in front 23-21.

The Rebels didn’t panic and outscored Williamstown 29-4 in a nine-minute span to essentially put the game on ice.

The margin increased to as many as 26 points midway in the fourth quarter and Ritchie County closed out its seventh straight win with a 58-43 victory.

“Ritchie County can make you pay for mistakes really fast,” Williamstown coach Scott Sauro said after his team suffered their third straight loss and slipped to 6-14. “We missed a couple of easy shots, so instead of us being in front by two points it turns into a five-point swing.”

Ritchie County was deadly from beyond the 3-point line after making five treys during a 22-point, third-quarter and finished the game 9-of-17 (53 percent). D.J. Burgess accounted for four long-range bombs and finished with 15 points, while Andrew Davis produced a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Teammate Johnny Hogue also scored in double figures with 11 points to go with three assists and two steals.

Having gone nearly a week without a practice, the 14-5 Rebels can now savor a few days off before resuming its schedule Saturday in the Little Kanawha Conference’s Night of Champions consolation game – the first time the Ritchie County boys basketball program can boast that honor since 2001.

“I think this is huge for the program,” Ritchie County coach Rick Haught said. “We get to play on a night where the whole conference is there and watching us. It’s good for our kids to get the recognition.”

Against Williamstown, Ritchie County catered to the Yellowjackets’ deliberate style. The Rebels fell behind 6-2 before concluding the first quarter with a 9-2 run behind six points from Davis.

The second quarter became deadlocked on two occasions with the last tie occurring at 13-13 with just under six minutes remaining before intermission.

Ritchie County created a bit of breathing room and led 21-17 at the halftime. Williamstown’s Jarric Hoskins kept his squad within striking distance by scoring all seven of his points before the start of the third quarter.

Held without a 3-pointer for the first half, Williamstown finally ended the drought when Weber sank a pair of 3-pointers as part of his team-high 10 points to open the second half and put the Yellowjackets in front for the final time at 23-21.

The Yellowjackets managed just two field goals during the course of the next nine minutes and by the time they gathered themselves, Ritchie County enjoyed a 50-27 cushion.

“The bottom line – we hit shots,” Haught said. “We have played in a lot of close games, and for the most part have found a way to win.”

Ritchie County’s high-water mark came with 4 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter when Burgess’ 3-pointer increased the advantage to 26 at 56-30.

“Ritchie County shot it well,” Sauro said. “You can tell their kids put in a lot of time shooting the ball during the offseason, and it’s important to them.”