GRAFTON—In a rematch of a game played on December 30th in Keyser in which Grafton won by the score of 53-39, the Bearcats boys’ basketball team knew they would have a tall task ahead of them when they played the Golden Tornado again in the second round of the Region 1, Section 1 tournament at Scotty Hamilton Gymnasium on Wednesday.
6’10, 340-pound Shawn See, who has already committed to play football for WVU, exploded for 28 points and 18 rebounds in Keyser’s 80-72 win against Grafton.
See would score 10 of those points in the first period, although Keyser would fall behind to the Bearcats by the score of 22-17 heading into the second. Grafton sophomore Blake Moore would have the hot hand for the Bearcats to start off the game, matching See’s point total while connecting for two three pointers in the first quarter. Senior Matt Gallo also connected on two three-pointers to help Grafton take a five-point lead heading into the second.
Keyser would hold Grafton to 12 points in the second period, half of those coming from two Logan Beltner three-pointers, as senior Logan Proud and sophomore Amare Kennedy would score six points each for Keyser to take a 37-34 lead into the locker room at halftime.
In the third period, the Golden Tornado would outscore Grafton 19-8 behind another 10 points from See to begin the fourth period ahead by the score of 56-42.
Grafton would chip away at the Golden Tornado’s lead, at one point finding themselves as close as five points with about four minutes to play behind clutch play from senior Jack Faulkner, junior Kaden Delaney, junior Blake Moore, and sophomore Justin Spiker, but Keyser would close out the game and ultimately win by eight points behind the steady free-throw shooting of senior Ryan Shoemaker.
Faulkner led the way for Grafton with 22 points, followed by Moore’s 16 points. Delaney and Beltner had 10 and nine points, respectively, while Matt Gallo and Justin Spiker each hit two three-pointers to finish with six points each. Sophomore Tanner Moats added four points for the Bearcats to round out the scoring.
In addition to See’s 28-point performance, Keyser (17-7) also got 20 points from Shoemaker and 14 points from Kennedy.
“We knew coming in that this was going to be a battle,” said Grafton head coach Michael Johnson after the game. “It’s sectional play so it has a different feel. I thought it was a game of runs and they ended the half on a really good run. We told them at halftime that the first few minutes would be really big and obviously it was, but it was big for them and not for us. They were able to extend that lead and at one point in time it was 16 or 17 points. But I told them that they kept fighting, clawing, and digging, but we could just never get over that hump.”
Johnson also went on to talk about what this team means not only to him, but where they stand compared to other teams that have paved the way before them.
“I’m super proud of them and the things that they have been able to accomplish since they have been here,” Johnson added. “We told them last year when they played in the state tournament that they had changed the face of the program. We finished above .500 and had a winning season for the first time in three or four years, and last year we went to the state tournament for the first time in 11 years. They have done great things and have sent the program in the right direction.”