No.1 West Liberty Survives a Scare from Concord - WTRF 7 News Sports Weather - Wheeling Steubenville

No.1 West Liberty Survives a Scare from Concord

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No. 1-ranked West Liberty roared back from a 17-point first-half deficit to hand upset-minded Concord a 97-92 loss Saturday afternoon at the ASRC.

Coach Jim Crutchfield's Hilltoppers (9-0, 5-0) took the best shot the Mountain Lions (5-6, 2-3) had to offer in the early going before answering with some pretty good shooters of their own.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by Concord's B.J. Hamlet – his fourth and fifth 3-pointers of the opening half – pushed the hot-shooting Mountain Lions out to a surprising 41-24 lead with 9:13 still to play in the first half but West Liberty didn't panic.

"Give Concord credit," Crutchfield said. "They're a very talented basketball team that came in here with a good game plan. They played hard, beat our press a few times and shot the ball very well but we kept the pressure on and things started to go our way."

Sophomore guards Seger Bonifant and Kelvin Goodwin had a lot to do with that as their sizzling shooting from the perimeter fueled the Hilltopper comeback.

With Bonifant and Goodwin raining 3-pointers from the perimeter, the Hilltoppers responded with a 23-4 blitz over the next seven minutes.

A Bonifant 3-pointer capped the run and gave WLU its first lead of the day, 47-45, with 2:38 on the first half clock en route to a 56-51 halftime lead.

Bonifant and Goodwin were each 4-for-4 from behind the 3-point arc in the first half. That was no accident, according to Crutchfield.

"Coaches always talk about how they love to see kids come out and shoot on their own," Crutchfield said. "Kelvin and Seger are always in here shooting. They were here an hour before the game today putting up shots with nobody around. They're both great shooters but they're great shooters because of how hard they work at it."

The Hilltoppers led by as many as 10 points in the second half but were never quite able to put the pesky visitors away as Concord pulled within two points on several occasions down the stretch.

The Mountain Lions cut the gap to 95-92 on a Mike Boyd free throw with 25 seconds left but Shawn Dyer made both ends of a 1-and-1 to restore the Hilltoppers' 5-point lead and rebounded a missed Concord 3-pointer at the other end to put the game on ice.

"This was our first game back from the break and it showed a little bit," Crutchfield said. "We made some mistakes we normally don't make but like I told our guys after the game, this is what conference basketball is all about.

"Everybody in the league has talented players who can shoot the ball and also run, jump, dunk and defend so if you don't play well, you're going to lose. Today, I thought we played just well enough to win and there's a lesson there for us."

Bonifant led all scorers with 26 points while pulling down 9 rebounds. Goodwin backed him with 17 points while C.J. Hester added 15 points and 8 boards. Cedric Harris and Keene Cockburn rounded out the double-figure scorers with 13 and 10 points, respectively.

Terry Hopewell's double-double of 19 points and 12 rebounds paced four double-figure scorers for Concord.

West Liberty returns to MEC action Monday night when the Hilltoppers host UVA-Wise. Tipoff is set for 7:30 p.m. at the ASRC.