CHARLESTON — The challenges keep coming for Trinity Christian senior Daniel Woods.
Greenbrier West’s 6-foot-9 forwards Collin and Riley O’Dell towered over Woods in the quarterfinals, but he made up for the size disadvantage with tenacity and outrebounded the siblings 13-6 as the No. 5-seeded Warriors downed the No. 4 Cavaliers at the Class A state tournament.
“I had my assignment, and I was doing my best to get him from out under the basket,” Woods said. “Keeping those two away from the basket gave us opportunities to move the ball up and down the floor and score.”
The Warriors (21-5) will look for another big performance from their all-state center today as they tipoff against undefeated No. 1 Webster County (26-0) at 1 p.m. The Highlanders rolled the Warriors 71-52 on Jan. 21 at the MLK Classic in Beckley, behind 23 points from center Cole Taylor.
Taylor, who averages 14 points per game, will be a focal point of Trinity’s defense, which has allowed just 38 points per game over its last nine contests.
“He likes to catch it and turn over his shoulder. That’s his post move and we gave it to him,” coach John Fowkes said. “We only had one kid that could guard the post with size that day. We were very tiny that day.”
Woods will look to deny entry passes vigorously against Taylor and smother him on the block.
“Cole Taylor is a pretty good player. He’s got some nice moves inside and he rebounds the ball well. You can’t let him get position in the lane — he’s got a lot of length and he’ll get up over you to the rim.”
As Trinity huddled during a timeout while trailing Greenbrier West, Briston Bennett came to Fowkes with a request.
“He was feeling it. We came off a timeout and he told me to run this one play, and I looked at him and said, are you going to make it? He said, ‘Yeah, I’m going to make it,’” Fowkes said.
The Warriors proceeded to get the ball in Bennett’s hands, and from there it was nothing but net.
“We just put in some new sets at the end of the season,” Bennett said. “I felt confident with the ball in my hands, and I wanted to get us some good luck coming out of the timeout.”
Those types of plays by Bennett saved Trinity’s season Wednesday. He scored 21 second-half points. He drained back-to-back 3s in a 14-0 run that tied the game, and went 6-for-6 at the foul line in the final minute.
“We talked about it at halftime, and during the timeouts — if we lost that game, we were done,” Bennett said. “We decided we weren’t going to lose, and if it took me stepping up to do that, then I’m more than happy to do it.”