Beckley, WV: On Saturday afternoon, February 28th, the Alice Lloyd Eagles journeyed to the Mountaineer State to face the powerful West Virginia Tech Golden Bears in the semi-final round of the River States Conference Tournament, with a trip to the championship game on the line. In a back-and-forth slugfest that wasn’t decided until the final minutes, the Golden Bears pulled away late to win 78-67.
In the first half, the two clubs both came out early, matching shots (8-8). However, ALC would roll off a short 8-3 run, capped off by a Bryce Slone bucket at 13:49 to pull ahead, 16-11. This forced a timeout from the hosts.
WVT would bounce back to tie the score, and then the clubs would trade hoops. Eagle sophomore forward Damon Tobler and senior guard Noah Young caused damage for their squad while WVT’s Juvante Hayes poured in 19 points to carry his club.
Eventually, Tech’s Luke Voss bagged a triple just before the final buzzer, and the Golden Bears would take a 38-35 advantage at intermission. One thing that caused some concern for ALC was the fact they had three players in foul trouble.
In the second half, Alice Lloyd quickly showed they were here to stay as they produced the first four points of the period to regain the lead (39-38). Then, Tobler picked up his fourth foul, and this helped Tech reel off a 10-3 burst to pull ahead 48-42, at 14:18. This was the largest lead until that point.
Later Tobler would be joined by junior forward Will Philpot and sophomore guard Ben Soumahoro as the fouls continued to mount. Although things looked bleak, the Pippa Passes club refused to roll over and came back with a nice 14-6 blitz that was topped off by Young’s trifecta. Once again, ALC led 56-54.
The crowd was treated to a classic battle as the squads continued their even play. When Tobler later drained two charity tosses at 3:29, the score was knotted again at 67-67 and appeared headed to the final play.
Unfortunately, from that point, everything changed as Tech came through big on their next three possessions. A layup on their next trip was followed by a missed layup from the Eagles. Then after WVT scored on the ensuing possession, ALC saw another shot roll off the rim. When Tech scored again, they found themselves ahead 73-67. The Golden Bears would then sink 5-6 free throws, as the Caney Creek club was forced to foul, to set the final score.
For ALC (25-5), four players reached double figures. They were led on the night by Young with 18 points. He actually led the club in rebounds with 6, and also dished off 5 assists and added 4 steals. Tobler added 14 points while Slone finished with 12. Senior center Idris Akinyemi came off the bench to contribute 10 points.
Alice Lloyd connected on 42.6% (26-61) from the field, and 35.7% (5-14) from long range. From the charity line, they sank 52.6% (10-19). Additionally, they registered a season-low 24 rebounds, 12 steals, and 12 assists.
WV Tech (26-4) was led by Hayes with 32 points. His club connected on 51.9% (27-52) from the field and 36.8% (7-19) from long range. From the foul line, they shot 68% (17-25). They also had 47 rebounds, 3 steals, and 19 assists.
The Eagles now wait to see if they will receive an at-large bid to the NAIA National Tournament.