The Pocahontas County High School boys basketball entered tournament play March 1 with a Region 2, Section 2 matchup against Moorefield High at Warrior Coliseum.
The visiting Yellow Jackets appeared much improved from an earlier visit and played fairly even up through the first quarter as the Warriors established a slight lead at 13 to 11. In the second quarter, PCHS overall team speed allowed them to open up that lead, then JD Hensler hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to establish a 36 to 19 half time score.
Pocahontas had a hard time finishing off the visitors as the Yellow Jackets continued to hang around, winning the fourth quarter by eight points. That was not enough, as the Warriors emerged victorious with a final score of 72 to 59.
Three players scored in double digits, led by seniors JD Hensler with 19 and Braxton Rider with 16. Sophomore Briar Wilfong contributed 14 off of the bench while Ryan Dilley had nine. Three-point shooting was much improved from recent games as the Warriors hit seven of 16 shots for a shooting percentage of 43.8, better than the two-point shooting of 39.2 percent.
This win put PCHS into the Sectional championship round against the 16 win, six loss Pendleton County Wildcats March 4, in Petersburg.
Having lost to the Wildcats twice during regular season, the Warriors knew they were in for a tough match up.
Pendleton took an early lead but the Warriors fought back from an early 10 point deficit to settle for the lower end of a 36 to 30 half time score. In the second half, the Wildcats fought off the Warriors and maintained a four-to-six point lead until late in the game.
With four minutes left, the Warriors scrambled back to tie the score at 53 all. Pendleton then made a bucket followed by a trip to the foul line. The foul try was missed but the put back was good for a four-point Wildcat lead.
Ryan Dilley then hit for a bucket to pull the Warriors back to within two. An intentional foul put Luke Cooper on the line, and he converted both tries to again give the Wildcats a four point lead at 59 to 55.
With 18 seconds left, Rider was fouled and converted two foul tries to bring the Warriors within two. Cooper was again fouled with 3.8 seconds remaining and converted both shots to give the Wildcats the win by a 61 to 57 score.
JD Hensler led Warrior scoring with 21, while Braxton Rider contributed 13. The three Cooper brothers combined for 42 points to lead the Wildcats.
Pendleton County now must play and defeat Tucker County High School to get to the state tournament.
The Warriors still have a shot at a tournament berth but will need to defeat a very highly ranked and talented Notre Dame team (20 wins and three losses) in Clarksburg March 9.
Good luck, Warriors.