LEWISBURG (WVDN) – The Spartan gym was packed on Tuesday night, Jan. 31, when the 5th ranked Greenbrier East Spartans hosted the 14th rated Woodrow Wilson Flying Eagles.
The fans in attendance were treated to a couple treats, as the 1972 Spartan state championship team was honored at halftime and the Spartans beat Woodrow 66-53 in a game that featured a little bit of everything.
East (9-4) defeated Beckley by 1 point on Dec. 16, 2022, when Goose Gabbert hit a long 3 with nine seconds to go, and this contest was a little easier with the rowdy crowd behind them.
Gabbert scored his team’s first 5 points, and then a Kaiden Huffman offensive rebound putback, plus the foul, made the score 8-2 East right out of the gate. Gabbert then scored inside, and Gabe Patton drained a triple from the top of the key, and the Spartans had a 13-7 lead with just under four minutes left.
Jalen Walton and Elijah Redfern paced the Eagles (6-8), but after one the Spartans led 17-10.
East got off to a good start in the second quarter and led 22-12 after a Huffman basket. Zion Hawthorne scored 4 straight for Beckley, but Adam Seams countered with 4 consecutive points of his own, and the Spartans held a 26-16 advantage with 3:10 to go in the first half.
Gabbert had a nice steal and score that forced Beckley coach Ron Kidd to call a timeout just before the break. Coby Dillon hit a big 3 for the Eagles as time expired, and East still took a 31-22 lead into halftime.
Emotions started to run high in the third period. Between Woodrow fans yelling at East students, and the East students yelling right back; everyone could tell it was a typical East-Woodrow matchup. Warren Baker, the All-American player from the ‘72 team, came over and fist bumped all the East players before the second half started.
Also, something lit a fire under Seams in the third.
The all-state senior playmaker scored 9 points in the quarter, making pass after pass right on the money en route to East’s biggest lead of the night at 48-32 late in the quarter. That lead would hold at the end of the quarter when it was 50-36 heading into the fourth.
Beckley battled and cut the lead to 57-49, but something happened during a time-out that many have probably never been seen before.
A Beckley cheerleader was doing backflip after backflip the length of the court until she collided with the Eagles huddle. She ran right into Redfern who was shaken up on the blindside hit. Both the cheerleader and Redfern hit the ground.
Redfern went back in and scored again, but fouled out a couple minutes later, as Gabbert knocked in his free throws down the stretch, and the Spartans held on for the important victory.
Gabbert had 23 points to lead the Spartans. Seams added 15, and Huffman scored 11.
Next up for East is a showdown with 2nd ranked Parkersburg South in the Battle for the Springhouse tournament at the The Greenbrier resort this Friday at 6 p.m.
Stats courtesy of 103.1, WRON.