Photography by Laurie Thompson
Athens, W. W.Va. -- In two extremely close games Thursday evening, the Concord Mountain Lions defeated the West Virginia Wesleyan Bobcats in Mountain East Conference play in Athens, W.Va. A close Women's tilt saw the Mt. Lions claim the 68-62 victory while the Mt. Lion Men squeaked away with a two point victory, 77-75. The loss for the Bobcat Women brings their record to 2-15, 0-13 in the MEC and the Men fall to 13-8, 8-5 in a tie again with Glenville State at the fourth spot in the MEC.
In the Women's match-up the Mt. Lion's would use only five total bench points as Andrea Bertrand led all scorers with 27 points to accompany her eight rebounds. Wesleyan's more balanced scoring attack led by Allie Browne with 13 and Brittany Williams with 12, trailed by five points at intermission despite out shooting the Mt. Lions from the floor. Bobcats Chloe Bland and Lafatima Gray would lead the first half charge, Gray with six points in an eight minute effort off the bench while Bland, who added eight points, finds herself in a starting role with Center KiKi DeVanesidelined due to an ankle injury.
The Mt. Lions did their best effort to run away with the game at the start of the second period when they took an eight point lead at 42-34 but an 8-0 run by the Bobcats would pull the contest back even five minutes in to the second period. The teams continued to trade punches, however the Bobcats could never gain the lead. They would trail down seven at 59-52 but a Lauren Graham layup with just under 8:00 left would bring them back within five. The Bobcats would continue to claw their way back in the game getting as close as 64-62 on a Browne layup with 1:01 left on the clock. Clutch free throw shooting, however, would pan out for the Mt. Lions in the end as they would earn the 68-62 victory.
In the Men's contest a two point halftime Mt. Lion lead proved to be the difference in a nail biting MEC contest in front of a hostile crowd at Carter Center. The Bobcats were led by a stellar Garrett Grantham performance where he scored 26 points on 10-16 shooting in 30 minutes of action off the bench. Limited minutes from an injured Ray Warren has put Derrick Stephens in a starting role but Grantham has carried the bulk of the work at the position for the 'Cats. He was joined in double digits by two other usual suspects for Wesleyan, T.J. Thompson with 16 and Chris Dewberry added 11. Senior Brett Ervin would start out the game with a bomb making it 3-0 but his minutes would be limited, too, as he was under the weather. The Mt. Lions would jump in the fire early and claim the biggest lead of the game at the 8:10 mark left in the first half at 29-19 but a relentless Bobcat team fought back ending the half 18-10 run bringing the halftime score to 39-37.
The second half proved to play equal, however, Wesleyan only lead five brief times as Concord was able to play ahead for most of the half. With 3:32 left in the game, Wesleyan would find themselves down five at 71-66 but Concord's Mike Boyd fouled Dewberry on a 3-point attempt, giving him three free throws. Dewberry canned them all and brought the contest to 71-69. Boyd would be fouled, however only connecting on one of two free throws, keeping the game at a one possession game. Grantham would bang home another jumper and bring the 'Cats within one at 71-72. A stingy Wesleyan defense would hold the Mt. Lions to a missed jump shot. A Grantham rebound would end up in a Thompson lay-up and the Bobcats would claim the 73-72 lead with 1:49 left. Boyd would add a bucket of his own on the other end but Taylor Price would fire back with a lay-up of his own with 00:54 on the clock making it a 75-74 Wesleyan lead. Unfortunately, that would be the last lead the Bobcats would see as Boyd would knock down two more free throws and the Bobcats could not get a bucket to fall on the other end leaving them to foul. The Mt. Lions would make one of two at the line with 00:03 left and seal the victory 77-75.
The tough losses for the teams won't play on their minds too long, however, as conference foe Fairmont State comes to town Saturday for another pivotal MEC battle. The Women will start things off at 2:00pm and the Men will follow at 4:00pm.