ELIZABETH - Wirt County, which scored 25 points in both the first and fourth quarters, got a game-high 31 markers from junior Kalob Bell here Thursday night as the Tigers held off Calhoun County, 81-67, in a battle of Little Kanawha Conference South Division rivals.
The Tigers of head coach Tim Murray, who played without the services of starting forward Mark Cunningham, scored the first 13 points of the game, led 18-2 and and took its largest advantage of the contest at 23-6 on a deep Bell 3-ball late in the opening stanza. However, after going ahead 36-21 after an Austin McVey three-point play at 5:16 of the second, the Red Devils went on a 16-6 spurt.
Ryan Slider scored two of his team-high 30 points via a Mason Sheldon assist as head coach Danny Bunch's Red Devils had things within grasp at 42-37 with 39 seconds left in the first half. Bell gave the orange and black a seven-point halftime advantage when he hit two foul shots.
Calhoun County actually closed to within one at 49-48 with three minutes left in the third when Trent Phillips took a feed from Luke Moore and converted. However, the Tigers got a Dylan Frazier triple and then a Hunter McCoy deuce from a Tristan Nichols assist to push the lead back to six.
Ricky Hall, who finished with 11 points and a game-high 14 rebounds, got a putback with 55 seconds left in the quarter to make it 54-53, but the visitors never got any closer. Nichols knocked down a jumper from the elbow after Luke Smith found him open with eight ticks left to give the Tigers a 56-53 advantage going into the fourth.
Lone Tiger senior Jeremy Kerby (eight points, five boards) hit two foul shots to open the fourth and after Bell scored on consecutive cutting lay-ins and added a foul shot the Red Devils trailed 63-53.
Thanks to a pair of Moore (eight points) field goals, a Slider reverse layup along with a Hall bucket and foul shot the Red Devils (0-2, 0-1 LKC South) later cut the deficit to just six at 68-62 with 3:46 to play.
Dustin Garner, who had nine points and a team-high seven boards, knocked down two charity stripe tosses and after Calhoun County made its 25th turnover Bell proceeded to drain a right-wing 3-pointer at the 3:16 mark to put the Tigers in control at 73-62 with 3:16 remaining.
Slider joined Hall in getting the only double-doubles of the contest as the junior finished with 13 rebounds to go along with four assists and as many steals.
McCoy came off the Tiger bench to score a baker's dozen while McVey chipped in 12 points, five caroms, three assists and had a game-high six thefts.
Calhoun County, scheduled to play Tuesday at Roane County, also got 10 boards and three assists from Sheldon, but finished with 29 total turnovers.
In the season opener for the Tigers, who return to action Tuesday at South Harrison, coach Murray's team made 14 of 42 from downtown and also happened to go 14 for 42 from the floor in the first half.
The two rivals combined for 32 first-half fouls. CCHS, which dominated on the glass 58-36, also missed 18 of 37 from the foul line while the Tigers hit 21 of 33.