SPENCER - One dream season ended here Thursday night in the Class AA, Region I tournament and another continued on as East Fairmont never trailed during its 70-68 win at Roane County.
The Bees of head coach Tyrone Asterino, who needed a blocked shot by Myles Johnson at the buzzer on Raider Jacob Neal's potential game-winning 3-pointer, survived and advanced to next week's state tournament in Charleston.
"It's what we've been working for all year and it finally paid off," said Johnson, who had 19 points, five boards, three assists, two steals and a pair of blocks.
Johnson's two foul shots with 12.6 ticks to play gave EFHS a 69-66 lead, but Raider Scotti Meadows was fouled on a 3-pointer with 6.6 left and hit two of three free throws to cut the deficit to one. Johnson then proceeded to make the front end of a two-shot foul a second later. Neal grabbed the board on the missed second free throw and raced to the other end, only to have Johnson get a piece of his shot just before the buzzer went off.
"I was just trying to make it a little more interesting," quipped Johnson about the last missed foul shot.
Eight Roane County seniors played in their final game for the Raiders of head coach Greg Alfred who were led by Neal's 19 points, while Issak Wilmoth and Meadows finished with 18 and 15 markers respectively.
"I couldn't be more proud of a group of guys. We fought until the very end. We did," said Alfred, whose team ended the campaign at 19-6 - a school record for wins - and were playing in honor of 5-year-old Gavin Morris, who passed away this week after losing his battle with Neuroblastoma cancer.
"Gavin-strong, we kind of adopted that and dedicated it to the family," said Alfred. "They gave it everything they had and they set the bar high for future Raider teams."
East Fairmont, which will bring an 11-13 mark to state, led 8-0 out of the gate and had a 19-9 cushion late in the first quarter when Brennan Vincent beat the defense for an easy layup for part of his 18 counters.
A Neal trey made it 19-12 after one period of play and East Fairmont carried a 33-30 point advantage into the break.
Just like the first half, the Bees opened the second half just as strong and made seven straight field goals to begin the quarter. When 6-foot-6 sophomore pivot Nick Greely converted a three-point play with 1:32 left in the stanza, the Raiders trailed 52-41.
"It was a goal (getting to state) and now it's a reality," said Greely, who had game-highs of 23 points and four blocked shots. and shared game-high rebounding honors with Neal with 11 each.
"It was a long drive down, but they have very friendly people here, a nice atmosphere and a nice student section. It's a big win for us and Jacob Neal is a very good player."
East Fairmont, which attempted just two 3-pointers and made none, shot 47.2 percent (25 of 53) from the floor and stayed in a 2-3 match-up zone for the vast majority of the contest. The Raiders hit 6 of 20 from downtown and shot 37 percent (20 of 54) overall.
With 3:39 left in the game, East Fairmont led 59-52 after a Vincent three-point play. Roane County got back in it though, thanks to a trio of Meadows buckets, a Wilmoth deuce on the block and a Ryan Errickson trifecta, which cut the deficit to 66-63 with 41.1 seconds remaining.
Ronnie Mills chipped in eight points for the Bees, who won the rebounding battle 37-31 and finished with just eight turnovers compared to the Raiders' nine.