By Dave Morrison
BLUEWELL – It’s fitting that Bluefield’s Sean Martin has earned his bones as a defensive presence.
He was the Class AA first team all-state captain in football. He will play on the defensive line when he reports to WVU this fall.
Oh, and he can play a little bit of defense on the basketball court as well. The Beavers post certainly displayed that in No. 3 Bluefield’s 74-63 victory over No. 1 Shady Spring Monday night at Brushfork.
Martin finished with 17 points, 10 rebounds and eight blocked shots in the victory.
None of it was more important than the final 1:47, when Bluefield outscored Shady 13-2 to break up a 61-61 tie. Bluefield scored the final nine points of the game.
What shots he wasn’t blocking he was altering as Shady couldn’t get a decent look at the rim on drives to the basket outside of transition baskets they scored after getting behind the Beavers defense. And there was little of that in the final two minutes.
Martin was everywhere.
“Coach just told me to stay in the middle, protect the paint and don’t let them get any easy shots and stay out of foul trouble,” Martin said.
He accomplished that goal.
With game tied at 61-61, he had a big block, as most of his blocks are, and he altered another that led to a Tyrese Hairston basket and another by Crews.
Tommy Williams, who had a team-high 24 for Shady Spring, finally got a transition basket, getting into the paint before Martin arrived, cutting it to 65-63.
Shady would not score again. Two more altered shots led to a 9-0 game-ending run by the Beavers. Martin finished it with a dunk at the buzzer, though he didn’t quite get the flush he wanted.
Shady Spring coach Ronnie Olson said Martin was the difference.
“Absolutely, I thought he controlled the paint area in the first half and the second half,” Olson said. “Same old stuff, altered our shots, blocked our shots. He probably had 10 blocks. And he got to his spots on offense and he absolutely killed us. How many points did he have? He killed us down there. We’re a smaller team and we have to work harder.”
Bluefield scored seven points in the final :31 seconds.
“Shawn is one of the bigger guys in the state on the basketball and we are blessed to have him,” said point guard Braeden Crews, who had a game-high 25 points, including 18 in the second half. “He can blocks shots, he can score, and he alters a lot of shots,too.”
Crews was key as well, coming alive in the third quarter.
With the Tigers holding a 44-34 lead in the third quarter, Crews hit three 3s around a Martin free throw to tie the score.
It went back and forth with Shady Spring’s Luke LeRose keeping his team in the game with 10 straight points over a four-minute span between the third and fourth quarters.
Down one, Bluefield went up 61-54, a Martin block with 4:36 left leading to a basket by Jahiem House that put Bluefield 59-54. Kaulin Parris had a pair of free throws to make it 61-54.
Tommy Williams, along with Crews two of the state’s top point guards, came alive, as he did in the first half, five straight points, after a basket by freshman Braden Chapman started the 7-0 Shady run.
But that was when Martin went to work in the paint.
“He had some big blocks,” Bluefield coach Buster Large said. “They’re a very good basketball team. We were very fortunate to get this win. It was one of the greatest games I’ve seen here at the (Brushfork) Armory crowd wise.”
“On our team we all have a role to play and me and Sean’s role is to score and protect the rim,” House said. “We know if we do our role, we are going to be hard to beat.”
Shady Spring, which had been lights out from 3-point range, had just one 3 in the first and fourth quarters and eight for the game. The Tigers averaged over 10 a game for the season, and 14.7 (103 made 3s) in the last seven games.
“We prefer to score inside,” Olson said. “We have problems guarding them inside and we feel like they have a problem guarding us on the perimeter. We feel like we go down hill (at the rim) and we did a good job of that throughout the game. We had a couple of layups (Martin) blocked, more than a couple, and we missed a couple of big ones down the stretch that led to transition baskets for them.”
Neither team was able to gain much of advantage in the first half until Williams heated up in the second quarter and scored 15 points, eight straight on a 10-0 Shady run to give the Tigers a 36-26 lead. Martin scored the final to baskets of the first half to make it 36-30 at the break.
Shady in now 18-1 on the season while Bluefield is 18-3.
Greyson Shepherd added 14 for Shady Spring and LeRose had 13.
For Bluefield Kaulin Parris added 12.
“I thought it was a hard-fought game,” Olson said. “I felt like we executed well, I thought they executed well, we just kind of folded in the last couple minutes of the game.”
“I boosts our confidence a lot,” Crews said. “It helps out in the rankings, the sectional rankings, but I guess it doesn’t matter since everything is being played at Princeton. But it is a big boost to our squad.”
The two teams could meet again March 6 in the sectional final provided they win their first round games.
Bluefield 74, Shady Spring 63
Shady Spring (18-1)
Tommy Williams 8-15 5-6 24, Greyson Shepherd 5-10 2-2 14, Luke LeRose 4-17 3-4 13, Braden CHapman 2-5 2-2 6, Cole Chapman 1-5 0-0 3, Haven Chapman 1-2 0-0 3, Erick Bevil 0-0 0-0 0, Dane Chapman 0-0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 21-55 12-14 63
Tyrese Hairston 3-5 1-2 7, Caden Fuller 2-4 0-0 5, Jahiem House 4-8 0-0 8, Kaulin Parris 3-9 5-6 12, Braeden Crews 9-15 2-2 25, Isaiah Rivers 0-1 0-0 0, Sean Martin 8-12 1-4 17. TOTALS: 29-54 9-14 74.
Shady Spring 14 22 15 12 – 63
Bluefield 15 15 20 24 – 74
THree-point field goals – SS: 9-19 (Williams 3-5. Shepherd 2-6, LeRose 2-4, C. Chapman 1-2, H. Chapman 1-2). B: 7-13 (Hairston 0-1, Fuller 1-3, Parris 1-1, Crews 5-8). Fouled out – None.