CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- This time of year, it doesn't have to be pretty as long as it gets done.
On Thursday, Class AA No. 1 Bluefield was a long way from perfect, but utilized its pressure defense in choking No. 8 North Marion in a 62-51 quarterfinal win at the Civic Center.
The Beavers were fine defensively and really put the clamps down on North Marion after the first quarter, but Bluefield has a lot to fix offensively, especially at the foul line. The Beavers will play in the semifinals at 7:15 tonight against No. 4 Robert C. Byrd.
"We're very fortunate to move on," Bluefield coach Charles "Buster" Large said. "We're very happy to win but we're very capable of playing a lot better and I hope we do that [tonight].
"No. 1, free-throw shooting, which we're going to do very early in the morning. We're much better than that. We must've shot for 20 minutes [Wednesday] but it's a big atmosphere down here. I know we were probably a little bit nervous but I think we'll solve that problem [today]."
All day on Thursday, games were called tightly and foul shots piled up to large numbers in each game. Beavers guard Lykel Collier took advantage, repeatedly driving through the North Marion defense and getting himself to the foul line.
Collier was only able to convert 11 of 21 of those chances, and as a team Bluefield made only 20 of 39. But luckily for the Beavers, quantity over quality worked as North Marion attempted just six free throws, making three.
Collier scored a game-high 17 points, dished out a game-best nine assists and registered five steals while controlling the game from his point-guard spot by attacking the rim and finding shooters.
Large said much of the game plan revolved around attacking the rim, something that paid dividends at the free-throw stripe.