CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Scott and Poca had a chance to salvage some pride for the Cardinal Conference Saturday night. The Skyhawks held up their end of the bargain, and the Dots came oh-so-close.
Devonti Birch, relegated to coming off the bench, scored 13 of his 14 points in the fourth quarter Saturday night to lead Robert C. Byrd to a 56-50 victory over Poca to cap the 15th Fellowship of Christian Athletes Hoops Classic at the Civic Center.
Saturday's card marked the inaugural Big Ten-Cardinal Conference Challenge, with eight games between teams in the Class AA leagues. The Big Ten, located in north central West Virginia, won four of the first six, meaning Scott and Poca would have to sweep the final two showdowns to allow their league to break even.
The Skyhawks (3-1) managed their part with a 66-59 win over Fairmont Senior, last year's state tournament runner-up. Anthony Sigmon came off the bench to spark the Skyhawks with a double-double (16 points, 10 rebounds).
Poca nearly came through in the finale of the nine-game card, which ended at 10:46 p.m.
After trailing by nine points with 1:52 remaining, the Dots shaved it back to 52-50 when they forced a five-second defensive call against the Flying Eagles and Noah Frampton drained a 3-pointer with 40 seconds left.
Matt Chandler then forced a steal out of halfcourt pressure defense and got the ball to Frampton at the left of the foul lane on a fast break. Frampton hit a short jumper that would have tied it, but was whistled for an offensive foul.
RCB hit 3 of 4 at the foul line in the final 22 seconds to seal it.
The high-electricity game between two state-ranked teams featured 10 lead changes and nine ties.
"I told our kids today at shootaround,'' said RCB coach Bill Bennett, "that we'll learn a lot about ourselves either way, regardless of the outcome. We'll get it on tape, look at it and see if we can get better from it. You go against an Allen Osborne team that's so well-coached and so well-drilled with the defense they play.''
Birch played sparingly in the first half for a violation of team rules, but shined down the stretch, almost holding the Dots at bay by himself. He scored 13 of RCB's 16 points in the final quarter.
Cameron Carvelli led the Eagles with 15 points and Justin Noble added eight points and 11 rebounds.