CHARLESTON - Tucker County's lack of size in the paint has been a concern for coach Tom Gutshall all season, and on Thursday night everyone found out why as Midland Trail received double-double performances from its top two post players en route to a 65-45 win in opening round action of the Class A state tournament at the Charleston Civic Center.
Jordan Burdette and Casey Deskins dominated down low for the Patriots (22-4) the entire night. Burdette finished with 23 points and 10 rebounds, while collected Deskins 12 points and 12 caroms.
"I told our big guys before the game that there was nobody on the floor that could stop them," Midland Trail coach Greg Crist said. "Our game plan was to get it inside to our bigs and that's exactly what we did."
The Inter-Mountain Photo by Edgar Kelley
Midland Trail’s Casey Deskins goes to the basket front of Tucker County defenders Ian Nichols (44) and Nick Nedrow (30) Thursday at the Charleston Civic Center.
The Mountain Lions' lone lead of the contest came right at the start. After the Patriots scored the first bucket of the game, Tucker County forged ahead 5-3 after a Tyler Snyder leaner and a three-pointer from Mikhail Lewis.
It was all Midland Trial after that. The Patriots scored the final 12 points of the quarter to lead 14-5 after one.
Tucker County battled back at the start of the second to cut the lead to six at 15-9 after a Snyder trey and two free throws from Nathaniel Goldstein. But two straight scores in the paint from Kessler, a pair of shots at the charity stripe by Jake Grimmett and back-to-back driving scores from Jordan Burdette, who poured in 23 points in the game, pushed Midland Trail's advanatge to 25-9 with 3:29 left in the half.
Tucker County managed to cut the deficit to 29-15 at intermission, but a 9-3 run by Midland trail to open the third quarter extended the Patriots' lead to 20 points at 38-18 at the 5:02 mark.
Midland Trail went on to lead 49-25 going into the final stanza and never looked back.
"That was probably one the worst games we played all season," Gutshall said. "Because of our lack of inside presence we have to make shots --- we didn't do that tonight. Midland Trail took it to us in every aspect of the game. They physically manhandled us, and that isn't like a Tucker County team. I was really disappointed, because I thought it was going to be a good matchup."
Zach Armstrong scored 13 second-half points to lead the Mountain Lions' attack. Goldstein followed with 11 points and six rebounds, while Snyder had six points and six assists.
Tucker County, which was making its 11th straight state tournament appearance, ends the season with a 19-7 mark.
"I'm tired of being happy about just getting down here (to Charleston)," Gutshall said. "I guess when I get down here I don't do a good enough job. The kids came along way this year since the beginning of the season, but I told them we have a lot of work to do this year if we want to improve."
Midland Trail will face top-seeded St. Marys in semifinal action today at 7:15 p.m.