Clay Battelle, Local Sports, Sports

Clay-Battelle bows out of state semifinals with 76-47 loss to James Monroe

CHARLESTON – Turnovers and shooting woes plagued the Clay-Battelle boys’ basketball team in Friday’s 76-47 state semifinal loss to top-seeded James Monroe inside the Charleston Coliseum and Convention Center.

The Cee Bees finished the year with a record of 20-7 and reached the state semifinals for just the third time in school history.

“Everyone who sits in this position knows this isn’t how your season wants to end, but this doesn’t define what we have proved as a team this season,” C-B head coach Josh Kisner said after the game. “To start the season out unranked and play the schedule we had proved a lot. James Monroe is a heck of a team and they proved it again (Friday).”

The Mavericks (24-2) used strong defense and shared the ball on offense to advance to Saturday’s championship against Tucker County. JM forced 30 turnovers as a team out of C-B and racked up 20 assists on the offensive side. Collin Fox had 10 steals alone for the Mavericks and Eli Allen added six.

Sophomore Preston Luzader paced C-B with a double-double of 26 points and 10 rebounds. He shot 10 for 14 from the floor and also provided two blocks in the contest. Junior Colby Barr, who scored 29 points against Webster County in the quarterfinals, scored 11 points in the game, but only played 20 total minutes due to foul trouble. Barr picked up his third foul in the first half with about five minutes to go until halftime.

C-B did lead in the first quarter 8-7 and trailed by just five after the first 13-8, the C-B turnovers began to take effect in the second frame.

The Mavericks used a 14-2 run to break open a 19-point halftime advantage on the heels of 18 first-half turnovers from the Cee Bees. A 21-7 second frame led to a 34-15 score at halftime.

The second half proved better offensively for Kisner’s side, but also for their opponents.

C-B scored 32 points in the second half with two quarters of 16 points each, but the turnovers continued and the Mavericks capitalized by scoring 20 and 22 in the third and fourth quarters on their way to a semifinal victory.

C-B seniors Carson Shriver, Kohlton St. Clair, Matthew Gadd, Adam Kolat and Logan Knechtel will graduate this year. Shriver and St. Clair will continue their athletic careers at the next level; Shriver at Waynesburg for football and St. Clair to Salem for baseball.

“It’s been a great time and I’ve been blessed with great coaches and teammates and a great community,” Shriver said. “I wouldn’t change any of it honestly. I’m glad to be a Cee-Bee. It’s hard how it ended here but we made it down here and won our first game and I can’t be more proud to be a part of this team.”

The good news for Kisner and his program is that its two most productive players are scheduled to return next season in Barr and Luzader. Each averaged a double-double during the regular season.

Barr averaged 17.6 points and 10.3 rebounds, while his counterpart produced 14.8 points and 10.7 rebounds of his own.

“I’m only a sophomore and Colby is a junior and we have a good understanding of each other’s game,” Luzader said. “We both go 6-foot-6 and it makes a difference out there for us. We have a good understanding of the high-low game together and we will work on it this offseason.”

As mentioned, C-B reached the state semifinals for just the third time ever in school history. The 2022-2023 boys basketball team will be one that is remembered for a long time.

“Like I told the guys, only three teams in school history have made it to this game and only one has won this game,” Kisner said. “They have a lot to be proud of even though this wasn’t the ideal outcome. I’m proud of my guys and these seniors and they’re welcome back anytime.”

James Monroe 76, Clay-Battelle 47

JM 13 21 20 22 – 76

C-B 8 7 16 16 – 47

James Monroe – Burks 4 0-0 12; Ridgeway 1 1-1 3; Allen 11 4-8 26; Fox 3 0-0 9; Hopkins 2 0-0 4; Dowdy 0 1-2 1; Hunter 1 0-0 2; Ganoe 1 0-0 3; Jackson 7 0-0 16

Clay-Battelle – Shriver 1 0-0 2; St. Clair 2 0-0 6; Barr 5 1-1 11; Luzader 10 5-10 26; Gadd 1 0-0 2

3pt goals – JM 10 (Burks 4, Fox 3, Jackson 2, Ganoe 1); C-B 3 (St. Clair 2, Luzader 1).

TWEET – @ahhh_griff