Balanced Poca downs Clay
POCA — Poca's underclassmen haven't played like youngsters all season, and even with the added pressure of the postseason, they weren't about to start on Wednesday night.
Freshman Luke Frampton led four double-digit scorers with 16 points as the Class AA No. 2 Dots steamrolled past visiting Clay County 71-42 in a Region 4 Section 1 semifinal.
After starting just 1 for 7 from the floor, Poca (22-1) used a 15-0 run to end the first quarter with an 18-5 lead.
The lead was up to 36-13 at halftime and the only question thereafter was what the final margin would be.
Even with the convincing win and several freshman getting their first taste of postseason basketball, coach Allen Osborne said the Dots have plenty to work on between now and their sectional final matchup Friday with Nicholas County. That game will be in Poca with the tip scheduled for 7 p.m.
"We wanted to get out and pressure them a lot more and get the game going up and down the court a little bit and we did that," Osborne said. "We weren't sharp tonight. The first playoff game is the toughest one, and we're glad to get that one out of the way.
"I don't think [there were any nerves], I just think it was the first game of the tournament and, to be honest, we probably gave them too much to think about during the game with the scouting report — you can get paralysis by analysis. But we'll be ready Friday; we just didn't play as free as we usually do."
Frampton added five assists while his brother, junior Noah Frampton, went for 15 points, four rebounds and four steals.
Fellow freshman Elijah Cuffee also shined, recording 14 points, four rebounds and a game-best six assists. Sophomore Kaden Meeks scored 10 points off the bench, including a pair of 3-pointers.
In all, the Dots were true on 9 of 18 shots from distance compared to a 3-for-14 effort for the Panthers. Luke Frampton hit the first of those long balls to kick-start the Dots' big early run.
He said he and his young teammates are more than equipped to deal with the weight of the postseason. "We need to not foul as much," he said. "We fouled a bunch today — just move our feet and don't reach."
If Poca was out of sorts a bit on the defensive end, it was tough to tell.
Poca shot 51.9 percent from the floor (27 of 54) while holding Clay to 31.6 percent (12 of 38). The Panthers also turned it over 21 times, 11 in the first quarter.
It's the kind of effort that has become the calling card for the Dots, who have not allowed a team to score more than 50 points in 13 straight games.
"They're physical," Clay coach Scott Gibson said. "They bump everything off, they don't get in foul trouble, they box out, they're just a very good basketball team — well coached. It comes down to coaching and he gets his kids to do what he wants them to do and it has showed all season and it shows every season for him."
Chris Cole led Clay County with 15 points, including 11 for 12 from the foul line. Storm Carver scored 11 points for the Panthers, who ended their season at 8-15.
Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.