MBB: Concord, West Liberty Punch Tickets to MEC Semifinals

MBB: Concord, West Liberty Punch Tickets to MEC Semifinals

Tournament Central

* Photo Gallery (coming soon)

* Evening session recap (coming soon)

#3 Concord def. #6 Davis & Elkins, 82-74

Box Score | Press Conferences

By Duane Cochran for MountainEast.org

WHEELING – Led by sophomore guard Kollin Tolbert, third-seeded Concord broke open a close contest with sixth-seeded Davis & Elkins by outscoring the Senators 16-9 in the final 4:27 to record a hard-fought 82-74 victory in the quarterfinals of the annual Mountain East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament here Friday afternoon at WesBanco Arena.Tolbert, who finished with 20 points and a team-high 10 rebounds, scored eight of his team’s final 16 points on the game-winning surge. The Mountain Lions held D&E scoreless for over a two-minute span in the final 4:27 and pushed the lead to as many as nine before settling for the eight-point victory.

“I knew we were going to have to fight defensively there late and that translated into offense for us,” Tolbert said. “Once we can collectively get stops as a defense, that translates to offense for us.

“As for me and what I did, that’s coach (Todd May) calling good plays for me to get me to my looks. I just capitalized on the plays he called.”

The win improved the Mountain Lions to 22-6 and puts them in the league tournament semifinals for the first time since 2019. Concord will face second-seeded West Liberty Saturday at 8:30 p.m. The Hilltoppers eliminated seventh-seeded Glenville State Friday afternoon.

“This was a really, really good college basketball game,” Concord coach Todd May said. “Give Davis & Elkins a lot of credit. They came out early as the aggressors. We were lucky to be up three at the half.

“The second half we found a way. Our guys made some plays down the stretch.”

The contest featured 17 lead changes and 12 ties and neither team led by more than five points until the final 2:32.

“It was a tough, physical battle like we expected,” said D&E coach Daniel Mondragon. “That’s the way Concord plays. I thought we did a pretty good job for the majority of the game matching their physicality and playing with some great toughness.

“Down the stretch it came down to rebounds and free throws. They shot twice as many free throws as we did and outrebounded us by 11. It’s hard to beat a team that good when you get outrebounded and don’t get to the free throw line.”

Concord held a 51-40 advantage on the glass and was a very efficient 20-of-24 from the foul line.

The Mountain Lions also got 18 points and seven rebounds from Jevon Laidler and 10 points, eight rebounds and four blocks from J.J. Harper.

With the loss Davis & Elkins finishes its season at 15-14.

“We battled to the end and gave our best,” said the Senators’ Nicolas Silva, who finished with 14 points. “We were blessed that the conference tournament was during our spring break so we prepared well and executed our game plan today.

“The ball doesn’t always bounce your way. We gave our best, but they got us at the end. They made some late shots and got some big rebounds.”

The Senators, who posted back-to-back winning seasons for the first time since 1954 and 1955, were led by Vadim Clanet’s 24 points. D&E also got 16 points, seven rebounds and five assists from standout senior guard Sam Rolle, who sadly was injured in the game’s final 43 seconds.

“We’re still hoping for the best with him, but we’re not sure right now what it’s going to be,” said Mondragon of Rolle’s injury. “It definitely was an eerie, kinda weird and surreal feeling. It was almost like that can’t be the way he finishes the last 40 seconds of this game. It was awful.

“We’ll do what it takes, though, and he’ll do what he has to do moving forward.”

The 22 wins for Concord are the most for the Mountain Lions since their 2015-16 team finished 22-10.

#2 West Liberty def. #7 Glenville State, 103-82

Box Score | Press Conferences

By Duane Cochran for MountainEast.org

WHEELING – Another Mountain East Conference Men’s Basketball Tournament and another victory for West Liberty.

It was business as usual here Friday afternoon at WesBanco Arena for the Hilltoppers who jumped on Glenville early and really never let up as they rolled to a 103-82 win in the quarterfinals of the annual league tournament.

Second-seeded West Liberty collected its MEC-leading 22nd win in conference tourney play and earned its 11th consecutive trip to the league tournament semifinals. The league has only been in existence for 11 seasons.

The win improved West Liberty to 24-5. The Hilltoppers will face third-seeded Concord (22-6) Saturday at 8:30 p.m. The Mountain Lions eliminated Davis & Elkins Friday in the quarterfinals. West Liberty has made seven trips to the league tournament finals and has won four championships. Concord has appeared in the MEC tourney finals once, winning the title in 2016.

“It doesn’t get old for me,” West Liberty coach Ben Howlett said. “I enjoy winning a lot. I’m not a good loser. These guys know that. I can’t stand it. I’m a really good winner, though.”

Howlett’s players feel the same way. Friday after falling behind by four to Glenville in the game’s first 54 seconds the Hilltoppers exploded on a 32-12 spurt over the course of the next 8:30 to take control of the contest for good.

By halftime West Liberty led by 17 thanks to red-hot shooting from 3-point range. The Hilltoppers were 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) from behind the arc in the opening half and finished the game 18-of-32. The 18 made threes ties West Liberty’s own mark of made 3-pointers in a tournament game set last season against Fairmont State in the title contest.

Zach Rasile provided the spark which ignited West Liberty. He hit four of his six treys in the opening half and finished the game with 20 points to lead all scorers.

“I saw a couple go in the hoop early and like coach said we got some clean looks,” Rasile said. “My teammates did a great job of setting me up and I was able to knock down some open shots.”

The balanced Hilltoppers had six players reach double digits in the scoring column. Joining Rasile were John Korte, who finished with 16 points, Chaz Hines, who had 13, Ben Sarson and Alek West, who both chipped in 11 and Dante Spadafora, who added 10.

“West Liberty really shot the ball well,” GSU coach Bob Bolen said. “Eighteen out of 32 from three is an understatement. We were having trouble containing the dribbler and as a result they got some good looks from three. A lot of people in the gym alone can’t go 18 out of 32, so I thought they really shot the ball well.

“I thought our guys competed. We out-rebounded them and I thought we competed the entire night but there’s a reason they’ve won 16 out of 18 games.”

Glenville State, which finished its season at 14-16, rallied in the second half and trimmed an 18-point West Liberty lead down to just seven at 72-65 with 13:25 to play. However, less than three minutes later the Hilltoppers had pushed their advantage back to 14 and the game was never close again.

The Pioneers were led by Trevor Chandler’s 19 points and game-high 10 rebounds. GSU also got 14 points from Rye Gadd, 13 from Jaelin Johnson and 12 from Devin Collins.

“When you get to that seven-point deficit against them you really have to have everyone buy in, play defense, share the ball, communicate, rebound and play together to get over that hump,” said GSU’s Chandler. “At least that’s my opinion. We just didn’t get it done at that point.”

Glenville’s 14 victories this year tied for the second-most at the school in the last nine seasons.

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