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Crouso, Bees swarm the glass, paint eliminate Logan, 62-35 in Class AAA quarterfinals

Logan's Zayden Sherod draws a double team in the first half of the Wildcats 62-35 loss in the Class AAA quarterfinals Tuesday night (Photo by Boothe Davis/Captured by the Moment Photography).

Bill Lusk | WVOW Sports

CHARLESTON   Jackson Crouso posted a double-double and East Fairmont beat Logan 62-35 Tuesday night in the Class AAA quarterfinals at the Charleston Coliseum & Convention Center and win its first state tournament game since 2001.


Crouso, a 6-foot-7 senior, had 22 points and 13 rebounds for the fourth-seeded Bees (19-7), who were playing in their first state tournament in 10 years and advance to the semifinals for just the second time in school history. Crouso was 10 of 14 from the field and also dished out four assists and three blocks in the win over the Wildcats.


Crouso, who called the state tournament the biggest stage in West Virginia for high school basketball, said he wasn’t ready to go home and has plans playing for East Fairmont’s first basketball state championship on Saturday.


“I don’t want to stop, I plan on playing two more games, winning two more games,” Crouso said. “I had that mindset coming into the game and that really helped push me through it.”


Tuesday’s win was the first state tournament win for East Fairmont since the Bees defeated the Big Reds of Parkersburg, 58-44, in the 2001 Class AAA quarterfinals.


East Fairmont head coach Ty Asterino wasn’t aware of the last state tournament victory, but said the victory was not only big for the school but for his seniors.


“It’s very special. No other group of guys would I want to be with. This group has done a lot of things,” Asterino said. “I didn’t realize it had been that number of years, but that’s big for our school, big for our basketball program (and) super proud of these guys because they’ve worked extremely hard.”


Logan (16-10) entered the game riding an eight-game winning streak and was looking to snap a three-game state tournament losing streak.


The undersized Wildcats did everything they could to limit the touches of the taller Bees, but East Fairmont dominated the boards, outrebounding Logan 40-18, and scored 44 of its 62 points in the paint and outscored the Wildcats 44-16 in the painted area.


“They use their body well and they’re fundamentally sound,” Logan head coach Jeff Williamson said. “They post real wide, get real big and you can see the fundamentals on film and in person.”


Greyson Stewart finished with 11 points, six rebounds and three assists for the Bees. Maddox Boyers, Blake Hunt and Drew Moore each had nine points with Moore a perfect 3 for 3 from 3-point range.


“We have really good chemistry and we know how to roll and hit each other when we need it, and our guards can hit us too for easy scores underneath,” Stewart said.


East Fairmont made 11 of its 24 shots in the first half, but caught fire in the second half connecting on 15 of 23 shots from the field, and finished the game making 55.3% of its shots.


Logan led twice in the early stages of the first quarter as the Wildcats and Bees traded the lead once and were tied three times in the game’s fist 3:10.


Crouso, who scored 10 first quarter points, gave East Fairmont its first lead of the contest, 6-4, with his layup with 5:26 to play in the opening quarter.


Zayden Sherod tied the game at 6 with his jumper with 4:50 remaining, however, it would be the last time the game was tied as East Fairmont closed the quarter on a 10-2 run to take a 16-8 lead after one quarter.


Trailing 24-14, the Wildcats would close to within four points, 24-20, with 1:18 to play before halftime after a pair of Sherod free throws before the Bees closed the quarter with five straight points to take 29-20 halftime lead.


Williamson said the close to the first half was a turning point in the contest and a continued struggle for the Wildcats all season.


“It was huge,” and that is one thing we’ve struggled with, at the end of quarters and coming out of quarters understanding time, score and situation,” Williamson said. “That is one thing we have worked on, talked about all year, but again we just have to be able to execute whenever it comes time.”


Logan received a spark in the first half from its bench as Sherod and Devin Maynard combined to score 11 of the Wildcats 20 first half points.


Sherod, who shared team high scoring honors with Cole Blankenship, scored all eight of his points in the first half and Maynard finished with three points and had Logan’s only 3-pointer of the contest.


“Same story all season, Zay has came off the bench, gave us a spark and played extremely well,” Williamson said. “Devin, again spot minutes this year, and I think the feature is bright for him. He has unlimited range.”


Logan scored the first three points of the third quarter and pulled to within six, 29-23, when Blankenship scored on a layup with 6:56 to play in the quarter.

However just like the end of the first half, East Fairmont closed the quarter on an 18-4 run thanks in part to a pair of 3-pointers from Moore, his second 3 a shot from just inside halfcourt to beat the third quarter buzzer giving the Bees a 45-27 lead after three quarters.


“Drew Moore hit a couple shots at the end of the third quarter that were pretty big shots,” Asterino said.


Logan got four points from Julius Clancy to start the fourth quarter to close within 14 points, but the Wildcats would get no closer as East Fairmont closed the game on a 17-4 run.


Logan made just 13 of 46 shots from the field and was 1 of 11 from 3-point range.


“Their size just gave us issues and we knew that it potential would, and they played a great game and we didn’t shoot the ball well,” Williamson said. “When you look at our shots that is how we have really been successful this year. Just making shots, being able to pressure people and tonight it didn’t fall and I got to attribute that to their defense.”


The loss ended Logan’s season at 16-10 in Williamson’s first year on the bench. Williamson was named head coach in August after Zach Green resigned in May and was told by locals not to expect much this season, however, the Wildcats surpassed expectations of locals in advancing to the state tournament for the second time in three seasons.


“It definitely leaves a bad taste in our month, but it’s sort of bittersweet, because again I am totally, totally proud of our guys to get to Charleston,” Williamson said. “When I showed up in August, a lot of people told me to take my first year easy and you don’t have a lot of talent. I didn’t believe in that and we’ve worked hard all season and worked harder than a lot of teams.”


East Fairmont held Logan to its lowest point output of the season and held its eighth opponent to 39 points or less.


“We take a lot of pride in what we do defensively,” Asterino said. “It is something that we do every single day and there are certain drills that we do every single day and we won’t deviate from it because that is what we feel is going to win here.”


That defensive pride has East Fairmont one win away from playing for its first state basketball championship. Coming into the tournament the Bees had allowed 47.8 points a contest, good enough for third best in Class AAA, but after the quarterfinal win that mark improved to 47.3 points a game and moved East into second place.


“Something that maybe the average person or observer doesn’t know is that we have been two or three all year in points given up,” Asterino said. “I think coming into the tournament we were third and we had been as high as two.”


East Fairmont will face top-seed Fairmont Senior (25-1) for the fourth time this season in the second of two Class AA semifinals Friday night at 7:15 p.m.


Fairmont won the first meeting 43-25 on January 10 at East Fairmont. The Bees handed the Polar Bears their only loss of the season on Valentines Day defeating them 59-55 in triple overtime. Fairmont Senior defeated East Fairmont 69-40 in the Class AAA Region II Section 1 finals on March 1.



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