Setting the Stage: Tucker County looks to topple James Monroe

Mountain Lions lost by 9 to James Monroe in regular season
Tucker County Basketball
Tucker County Basketball(WDTV)
Published: Mar. 18, 2023 at 1:58 AM EDT
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CHARLESTON, W.Va (WDTV) - What do you get when you combine a team with size, a near 50 percent team shooting percentage and a win streak that dates back to January?

This season, that resume leads to being a state championship underdog.

Tucker County has been all of those variables and much more. They have scored 70 or more points in each game throughout the state tournament bracket. As the three seed, they blew past Tug Valley in the semifinals to advance to the state championship.

The Mountain Lions have lost just four games all year. One of those regular season losses? The team they will face in the state championship: James Monroe.

In the regular season, a 63-54 victory for the Mavericks was paved by Eli Allen, a senior who dropped over 30 points in the matchup. The next highest scorer for the Mavericks was Josh Burks, the only other scorer for the team to put up double digits.

For the Mountain Lions, Trevan Bonner led the team in scoring in that matchup with 20 points on 50 percent shooting. Since then, Bonner has only improved. He’s had 39 points so far this tournament, and he’s only a sophomore.

Meanwhile, for James Monroe, Eli Allen has improved as well. He’s had 45 points this tournament.

Bonner vs Allen will likely be a major matchup in the scoring column.

After all, nearly every team we have seen in the boy’s and girl’s tournaments has had one player that tends to lead the stat. Zycheus Dobbs, Sharron Young and Olivia Toland may ring some bells as primary scorers.

However, none of those players reach their full potential without those around them: Desean Goode, Brody Davis and Emma Freels are right there alongside them.

For Tucker County, the name of the game so far this week has been spreading the wealth. While Bonner has been the leading scorer, four players have had double digit scoring in both games for the Mountain Lions in the tournament.

If Tucker County wins on Saturday, they will have forced the ball away from Maverick’s superstar Eli Allen. In one of the team’s two losses this season, Allen was held under 20 points. No one else had 10.

But it’s a tough task. Allen averages 21 points, 9 rebounds 7 assists and 3 steals per game on the year. It may only be possible to contain his elite production.

Coming in, Tucker was seen as an afterthought as a three seed. On the flip side, James Monroe has been considered a dominant force all season. They’ve regularly swept the top spot of the AP Poll, cruising to the state championship.

Despite this, the Mountain Lions should not be considered a heavy underdog in this matchup. They were the only team in all of Class A to be within 10 points in a loss to the Mavericks this season.

While James Monroe has yet to lose a game in Class A, Tucker County has only lost two.

The 3 seed Tucker County Mountain Lions will face off with James Monroe for the second time this season on Saturday, this time for a Class A State Championship. Tip off is set for 12:30.

Semifinals Highlights: