St. Marys boys whip Cameron, earn state bid

Photo by Tyler Bennett St. Marys’ Grant Barnhart, left, looks to pass as Cameron’s Noah Neely defends during Thursday’s high school boys regional co-final.

ST. MARYS — The St. Marys Blue Devils denied the Cameron Dragons their first state tournament appearance, making short work by drilling a dozen 3s and shooting 41 percent from deep to finish with an 84-55 Class A, Region I co-final win Thursday and reaching the state tournament for the first time since 2012.

Isaak Mooney and William Steele combined for 38 points with both making four from the outside. Mooney finished as the game’s leading scorer with 22 points, 18 coming in the second half, with three assists and two steals. Peyton Auxier tallied 11 markers in the victory.

“This is my last game at home, I had to give it all I got. Me and my dad talk about rising to the occasion,” Mooney said. “Team played a great part, but to see the community come out here. This is the most support we had all year definitely showed tonight, I’m thankful.”

Dillion Meintel got the first points thanks to a Travis Mickey steal and Noah Neely got another bucket, Steele and Mooney made one 3 apiece made a 6-5 Blue Devil lead.

Zane Clutter drove to the basket and drilled a 3 of a Mickey assist.

Meintel gave the Dragons their final lead of the night, making it a 9-8 score with 3:44 left in the first.

The Blue Devils went on 13-2 run which was kicked started by Auxier’s three-point play. Coming off the bench, Grant Barnhart, scored five points in the quarter’s final three minutes.

Barnhart drilled a 3 off a Steele assist, as Auxier chipped in with another bucket. Dragon Garrett Scott made a bucket with 20 seconds left, which made it a 21-11 Blue Devil lead.

The second was more evenly balanced with both teams scoring 12 points.

A Mickey bucket and a deep Zane Clutter triple off an Aidan Lucey steal, made tt a seven-point game with 48 seconds to go, the closest the Dragons got all night.

Steele was able to respond with a last-second 3 from a Mooney assist. Now a 10-point game, it gave all the momentum in favor of the hosts.

“It was big it change the momentum, we were only up by seven and we started making shots from there,” said Steele, who scored 16 points, four from deep, and a perfect 4 of 4 from the free-throw line and six rebounds.

Steele is looking forward to finally playing at the Civic Center.

“It’s amazing, it’s our goal to make it to states, show off our abilities,” Steele continued. “It was an amazing atmosphere here tonight, a lot of people behind us came to support us and we showed up today.”

Having Mickey and Meintel both over 6-3, the Dragons used their height to their advantage to cut into the Blue Devils lead, grabbing six rebounds and able to get 11 second-chance points.

Going into the game, Blue Devils head coach Mark Barnhart singled out the frontcourt mates as the focal point of the Dragons’ offense.

“Meintel and Mickey were the two guys we feared the most because we feared them the most when the shot goes up,” coach Barnhart said “We were worried and we went through a brief stretch in the first half.”

It was all Blue Devils in the second half. They opened the third quarter by outscoring and outrebounding the Dragons, 25-10 and 12-1 on rebounds.

Richard Dornon pulled down one of his three offensive rebounds in the quarter and led to a Mooney 3. Only scoring four in the first half, Mooney scored 12 points in the third from all over the court. Intercepting a Clutter pass, Mooney kick-started a one-man fastbreak for a coast-to-coast lay-in making it 40-27 at the 5:04 mark in the third.

Triples by Mooney, Auxier, Steele and Barnhart, and Dakota Sampson chipped in with a bucket as the Blue Devils ended the final three minutes on a 15-6 run.

Coming off the bench, Barnhardt scored 14 points and had six rebounds. Sampson had eight points and four blocks, as Dornon finished with a six-point effort and a team-high eight-rebound performance.

The leading scorer for the Dragons was Lucey with 14 points and Meintel and Mickey both scored 10 points.

Entering as the eighth seed, the Blue Devils (16-8) will be playing fellow Little Kanawha Conference foe and the top-seeded Webster County Highlanders (25-0) at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday.

The Dragons finished the season with a 17-9 record.

“They’ve done it for the last three games, they gave us over a crazy ride on our home court and gave the community memories that will live on forever,” coach Barnhart said.