BILL LUSK | WVOW Sports
MAN, WVa Jeremiah Harless had 26 points and 22 rebounds, Aden Martin added 20 points and 10 rebounds and Class A No. 2 Man defeated Gilmer County 88-66 Wednesday night to win the Class A Region 4 championship and advance to the WVSSAC Class A State Tournament for the second straight season. Trey Brown added 23 points for the Hillbillies who overcame a sluggish first half and 28 points from Gilmer County’s Dylan Buckius to win the school’s seventh regional championship. Buckius knocked down eight of Gilmer County’s 13 3-pointers. “Seems like anybody we play, anybody that comes into this gym seems to have the best shooting night against us every game and number one (Buckius) hit eight 3’s,” Man coach TJ Blevins said. “I don’t know if he has hit that many in the three or four games, but he was stroking tonight.” Man, who was hosting their first ever regional in school history, advanced to Charleston for the eighth time, but after the loss of first team all stater Austin Ball, post player Jackson Tackett and the graduation of seniors Peyton Adams, Hunter Anderson, Ryan Cozart and Christian Toler many didn’t think the Hillbillies would advance to the state tournament. “Anytime you can win a game to make it to Charleston especially on your home floor it’s that much sweeter,” Blevins said. “Starting this season, we were getting a lot of doubt from a lot of people that didn’t think we would even get this far, and to do what we have done with this group of kids.” The win was the 22nd of the year for Man and it capped off a perfect 10-0 home record for the 2021-22 season. Blevins, who is in his sixth season as Hillbilly coach, improved to 74-61 in his career. Blevins was 18-51 in his first three seasons but is 56-10 in his last three. The Hillbillies were 0-22 in his first season. “Never thought that (22 wins) was possible in my time here,” Blevins said. “I got more to go before I can avenge my losses in my first year.” The win was also Man’s 15th consecutive victory on its home court dating back to the 2019-20 season. “One of the goals is to protect your home court,” Blevins said. “We set a few at the beginning of the year and we are checking them off. We got a list, and they are falling like flies.” Man, who never trailed in the contest, scored the first eight points and jumped out to a quick 8-0 lead and led 19-7 after one quarter of play. The Hillbillies lead reached 15 points in the second quarter but thanks to four second quarter triples, Gilmer County was able to trim the deficit to nine points before Man settled for 34-23 halftime lead. Man responded with 27 third quarter points on 12-of-16 shooting from the field and lead Gilmer County 61-41 after three quarters. “I got onto them pretty hard in the locker room at halftime especially when we gave up that last 3,” Blevins said. “As the buzzer went off, we had one get lazy coming back down the floor, so that turned into a 5-on-4, usually when that happens there’s an open man.” Buckius connected on 9-of-20 shots from the field and was 8-of-14 from 3 for the Titans. “He is a kid who loves basketball, he works hard and lives in the gym,” Gilmer County coach Jessy Moore said. “He shoots shots when he’s practicing, but is not focusing on game shots, and we get onto him in practice, but he comes out and knocks down shots tonight.” Joseph Lipscomb added 20 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Lipscomb was 3-of-6 from 3 and 7-of-8 from the foul line, for the Titans, who shot 21-of-53 from the field, but was 13-of-27 from 3, and was outrebounded 42-22 by the taller Hillbillies. “My guys play hard,” Moore said. “They don’t have the height or some of the athleticism that some of the teams that we have played across the board.” Gilmer County, who defeated Wahama in the sectionals, but lost in the sectional championship to Huntington St. Joe’s, finished the year 7-17. “Our reward for beating Wahama was to go play the number four team in St. Joe’s and the number two team in Man, and Man’s a heck of a team,” Moore said. “I am proud of this group because we had some guys walk out on us in the season and these guys just put their head down and always competed.” Harless, who had his double-double streak end at 15 games in the sectional championship against Tug Valley, posted his fourth game of 20-plus points and 20-plus rebounds this season. “He is a man, and at times he is a man amongst boys, and he is so physically strong,” Blevins said. “I got to work with him this season on his footwork, his drop steps and his fade away jumper.” Brown scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half, and Martin scored 11 of his 20 points in the first half for Man. “I am tickled to death for Aden and Trey to get this opportunity,” Blevins said. “I told them at the beginning of the year if we do things right, we will be dancing, and those guys bought into my style, and they love it.” It’s the first time since 1997-98 that the Hillbillies have reached the state tournament in consecutive seasons and first time they have done so as a Class A school. Man won the Class A championship last season, but to repeat Blevins said it is going to take something that no one has seen this season from his club. “It is going to take a complete game, and we are still lacking that complete game,” Blevins said. “I am not happy with the way we played tonight, we played sloppy.” “You look up on the scoreboard and you put up 88 points,” Blevins said. “How many teams can you look at that’s played sloppy and put up 88 points?” Man was awarded the second seed in the Class A field and will face seventh seed Greater Beckley Christian Tuesday afternoon at 1 p.m. “We didn’t get the good draw that is for sure,” Blevins said. “They are a very solid team, they say they got one of the best backcourts, we still got a lot of size, and I think we man up with them pretty good.” At Man Memorial Fieldhouse Class A Region 4 Co-finals Man 88, Gilmer County 66
Gilmer County (7-17) Dylan Buckius 9-20 2-3 28, Joseph Lipscomb 5-11 7-8 20, Ean Hamric 3-8 1-1 9, Cole Cogar 3-5 1-2 7, Garrett Butler 1-4 0-0 2, Scott Price 0-5 0-0 0. Totals: 21-53 11-14 66.
Man (22-2) Jeremiah Harless 12-18 2-5 26, Trey Brown 10-19 0-0 23, Aden Martin 8-14 1-1 20, Caleb Blevins 2-9 4-5 8, James Scites 3-5 1-3 7, Jayden Brown 1-1 0-1 2, Jordan Adams 1-2 0-0 2, Brady Hall-Montgomery 0-1 0-0 0, Jacob Walls 0-0 0-1 0. Totals: 37-61 8-16 88.
Gilmer County 7 16 17 26- 66 Man 19 15 27 27- 88 3-point field goals- Gilmer County 13-27 (Buckius 8-14, Lipscomb 3-6, Hamric 2-3, Butler 0-3, Price 0-1), Man 6-21 (Brown 3-11, Martin 3-6, Blevins 0-4). Rebounds- Gilmer County 22 (Butler 6), Man 42 (Harless 22). Assists- Gilmer County 12 (Butler 6), Man 19 (Adams 8). Total fouls- Gilmer County 12, Man 11. Fouled out- None. Technicals- None.