Cover photo by WV Sports Photography
By Rich Stevens
The Wyoming East boys basketball team wanted to stay true to itself.
So did Poca.
Fourth-seeded Wyoming East ran into a determined defending champion on Friday afternoon in the 2016 boys high school state basketball tournament, dropping a 85-55 decision — the largest margin of victory in a Class AA semifinal since seeding began in 2005.
Poca (25-2), which won the 2015 title to cap a 27-0 season, emphatically eliminated the Warriors to advance to a championship-game rematch against Fairmont Senior at noon on Saturday.
“We wanted to run it back at Poca and it didn’t turn out in our favor,” Wyoming East coach Rory Chapman said. “Everybody tried to slow it down. Scott slowed it down, Chapmanville slowed it down and stayed in the game. We wanted to be true to our style and play up tempo. They started making lots of shots in the second quarter.”
With 6:34 remaining, Poca led 71-35 in a game that it didn’t trail. The Dots defeated Scott in the Region 4 co-final 20-10 and Chapmanville in the state quarterfinals 30-28.
The semifinal was never in question.
Poca scored the first seven points of the game, had four more unanswered points after East’s first basket, went on an 11-0 run that spanned the first and second quarters and sprinted away with 12 of the final 14 points before the intermission to lead by 32.
“I thought the first half we really played well,” Poca coach Allen Osborne said. “Our defense was outstanding. We took away their transition game, took them off the boards. Offensively, we were pretty efficient. Guys made some shots. They broke a sweat today.”
Junior Jason Cuffee had 20 points 18 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and two blocked shots. Luke Frampton led Poca in scoring with 24 points and contributed six assists, five rebounds and three steals. The Dots had a tournament-high 22 assists with seven players contributing to the total.
Kaden Meeks added 17 points six rebounds and three assists.
Wyoming East (20-5) shot 34.5 percent from the field and was outrebounded 44-30. R.J. Foldon, the hero of the Warriors’ quarterfinal win over Robert C. Byrd, had 14 points to lead East.
Poca will play for its second straight Class AA state title against Fairmont Senior for the second consecutive time.
The Dots also own a 60-53 win over the Polar Bears in the Big Ten/Cardinal Challenge at West Virginia State University’s Walker Convocation Center on Dec. 19.