LEWISBURG, W.Va. (WVDN) – With the thought of a deep playoff run possible, the Greenbrier East Spartans headed into their Region 3, Section 2 tournament game against Oak Hill confident and ready to go on Tuesday night, Feb. 28.
However, it did not take long for anyone in the gym, from the cops on duty to the janitors in the hallway, to realize that the Red Devils came to Fairlea to win, and unfortunately that is exactly what happened.
The No. 1-seeded Spartans suffered a 76-59 loss that ended their incredible season in which they were ranked inside the top 10 all year long.
Trevor Kelly was a huge thorn in the Spartans side early.
The 6-foot-5-inch swing player had 14 first half points and got the scoring started with the game’s first bucket, and a couple possessions later, he scored off an offensive rebound. At that point, East led 4-3. Oak Hill’s Ethan Vargo-Thomas, who did not play in the first two meetings, buried a triple, but the Spartans’ Gabe Patton answered with one of his own and East held a 12-11 advantage after a score from Monquelle Davis. Goose Gabbert scored East’s final 5 points of the quarter, sandwiched around a Kelly 3, and East led 17-16 after one quarter.
That would be the last time the Spartans held a lead.
The Red Devils opened the second period on a 7-0 run that extended their lead to 23-17, before Patton scored to break the East drought. A couple minutes later, however, Kelly hit another jumper, Malachi Lewis then hit a 3, and Vargo-Thomas and Kelly hit two more triples. An Adam Seams steal and layup ended the half nicely for the Spartans, but they still trailed 34-25 at the break.
The crowd stayed into the contest and behind their home team, but you could feel that something was just not right in the air inside the gym tonight, at least from the East side. Late in the third, the Spartans cut the deficit to six points at 46-40 after a Gabbert steal and score, but Malachi Lewis answered with a 3. It was like that all night. As soon as the Spartans would get some life and a couple baskets, the Red Devils had a counterpunch every single time.
Midway through the final period, East cut the lead to 58-51 with just over four minutes remaining in the game, but Malachi Lewis hit a dagger triple, and Omar Lewis then scored on a runner, and the Red Devils went up 13 and the nail was slowly driven into the East coffin.
As time ran out, you could feel the emotions running high in the building. There were a lot of tears from Spartan fans and players. Eight seniors on the East roster played their final game, and that can be hard to accept due to that large number of players that will no longer step on the Spartan court again, unless it is as a fan in the seats.
To the Red Devils’ credit, they played flawless basketball, outrebounded the Spartans by a wide margin and hit big shot after big shot to seal their relatively easy victory.
East (11-11) hit only two 3s on the night, and those are typically a strength for the Spartans.
The Spartans were led in scoring by Gabbert with 19 points. He was also named the Magic’s Computer Player of the Game. Patton concluded his season with 13 points.
Kelly scored 20 to lead Oak Hill. Malachi Lewis had 19, and Vargo-Thomas added 15.
The Spartans will return to the court in about 10 months and will look a lot different in 2023-24.
Look for the senior basketball player interviews coming out soon. The interviews were conducted before this game.
Stats courtesy of 103.1, WRON.