Meaningful matchups and top-five encounters have become a little bit of the norm around the Greenbrier West basketball program in the last few years. Going back to the 2018-19 season, the Cavaliers have competed in four such Class A matchups, going 2-2 in those contests. For good measure, Greenbrier West has met two top-five Class AA teams while residing in the top-five of Class A. The Cavaliers dropped a narrow 62-59 decision to Shady Spring in 2019 and handed eventual state champion Williamstown their only blemish in 2021, a 67-66 thriller at West Virginia State.
Tuesday night’s game between #3 James Monroe and #5 Greenbrier West had some added juice to that storyline. The Mavericks entered the game with a 6-1 record, champions of both the Narrows (VA.) Christmas Tournament and the Mountaineer Invitational Tournament at Alleghany, VA. The Mavericks had also disposed of then #6 Webster County this past Saturday at the New River CTC Invitational in Beckley. James Monroe’s only loss on the season was a 94-74 setback to then #4 and now #2 Greater Beckley back in mid-December. At the time, the Mavericks were the top-ranked team in Class A.
Greenbrier West came into the game with a 5-1 record, winning their first five games before dropping an 81-68 decision to Class 4A Greenbrier East at the New River CTC Invitational. The Cavaliers just also happened to be the team that ended the Mavericks’ season last April. James Monroe rolled into that Region 3 Championship game with a 17-1 record, primed for a run to Charleston. The Cavaliers ended the Mavericks’ dream in overtime. The scene was set.
Greenbrier West came out of the gate fast. A Michael Kanode layup was followed by a Brayden McClung leaner that drew a foul. After Brayden knocked down the free throw, Chase McClung swiped the dribble away from Shad Sauvage and laid the ball in for a 7-0 Cavalier advantage. West got open looks on their next two possessions, but the ball wouldn’t fall. That opened the door for the Mavericks to start to climb back into the game. A Cameron Thomas putback got James Monroe on the scoreboard, then Kanode caught an errant, fall-away three-pointer from Chase but failed to finish the play. The result was an uncontested Sauvage layup followed by a timeout from Cavalier head coach Jared Robertson.
Coming out of the timeout, Kanode drew a shooting foul and drained both free throws. Colin Fox answered with a runner for the Mavericks, but Kanode countered with a running jump hook. Thomas answered the Cavaliers by converting a free throw for a three-point play then denied a pass inside to Kanode. Fox led Allen with a long pass off the deflection and Allen finished with a dunk to tie the game at 11. The Cavaliers would build the lead back to five on a Dale Boone three-pointer, but the Mavericks answered with five straight to tie the game at 19. Allen would flash to the basket with a baseline layup to give James Monroe its first lead at 21-19. That advantage held up over the last thirty seconds of the quarteras Nickell back ironed a three, then a wild series of deflections and saves led up to a missed three by Sauvage from the corner.
Sauvage would heat up to start the second quarter with a runner in the lane and a three from the right wing to expand the Maverick lead to seven. Moments later, Sauvage knocked down two foul shots to build the lead to eight. Boone quieted the run with a three for the Cavaliers, but Sauvage drained another three for the Mavericks to stretch the lead to eight again. Threes were keeping the Cavaliers within reach as Chase McClung drilled a third straight for Greenbrier West. Once again down by five, West would let Fox beat the defense back for a layup and Allen would add a one-on-one for a nine-point lead, the largest of the game for the Mavericks. Both teams would fail to convert on back-to-back possession before Fox sunk both foul shots for an 11-point lead. Allen had a chance to balloon the lead to 13 but missed both attempts of a double bonus. Kanode stopped the bleeding for the Cavaliers by converting on a three-point play. Kanode would keep the Cavaliers close with a runner from the left and each team would only muster a free throw to end the half. The Mavericks led 43-35 at the break.
The third quarter would not be kind the the Cavaliers. Chase McClung would get two good looks from the three-point line to start the period, but neither would fall. The Mavericks, however, found success with Allen and Josh Burks scored inside the lane. Chase launched a third unsuccessful three, and the Cavaliers followed that with a turnover the Burks made them pay for as he drilled a setup three-pointer. With the James Monroe lead now at 19, Boone would knock down the front end of a one-and-one to get the Cavaliers on the scoreboard in the third. Burks answered with a dagger from the corner for a 21-point Maverick lead. After a Haiden Huffman block, Burkes would nail a short-range jumper from the left wing and the Maverick lead continued to surge. Sauvage joined the party with a three that rattled home from the left corner. When the dust settled, the Mavericks had outscored the Cavaliers 27-9 to effectively render the fourth quarter moot.
For the Cavaliers, Kanode led the scoring with 16 points and eight rebounds. Chase McClung added 15 points on the strength of three three-pointers. Boone had one of his best nights as a Cavalier with 11 points going 2-4 from three-point range and 1-2 from the foul line, 3 rebounds, and 2 steals. Brayden McClung had 9 points on the night. For the Mavericks, Allen recorded a triple-double with 23 points, 15 rebounds, and 11 assists. Sauvage scored 20, Thomas added 12 points and 11 rebounds, Fox tallied 13 points, and Burks 12.
Greenbrier West, now 5-2, hosts 10-2 Mercer Christian this Friday night at 7 P.M. as a makeup for the Pikeview game that was canceled last Friday when weather wreaked havoc on the New River CTC Invitational. There will be no JV contest. The Cavaliers were originally scheduled to host Midland Trail Friday night, but that game has been rescheduled for February 21 as the Patriots deal with quarantine issues.
GW (5-2): 19 15 9 14 – 56
JM (7-1): 21 22 27 14 – 84
Greenbrier West 56
Michael Kanode 16, Chase McClung 15, Dale Boone 11, Brayden McClung 9, Elijah Perkins 3, Ty Nickell 2,. Totals: 20 (11-16) 56.
James Monroe 84
Eli Allen 23, Shad Sauvage 20, Collin Fox 13, Cameron Thomas 12, Josh Burks 12, Layton Dowdy 2, A.J. Walker 2. Totals: 30 (16-23) 84.
3-pointers – GW: 5 (C. McClung 3, Boone 2); JM: 8 (Burks 2, Sauvage 3, Fox 2, Allen)