By Phillip Hines
Two teams from Tidewater remain in the boys basketball state title hunt.
The Bethel Bruins, who have only one loss this season, are a bunch that coach Craig Brehon considers the "best group of individuals" he has had in his 13 years of coaching at Bethel, according to the Daily Press.
The Bruins (30-1) are living up to their hype. They won their bracket in the first Ronald Curry Christmas Classic, clinched the Peninsula District regular-season and tournament titles, and beat the streaky Kings Fork Bulldogs for the AAA Eastern Region championship.
Surry High, a small county school in Surry, Virginia, has launched a different type of post-season run, entering the playoffs with a below .500 winning percentage. The Cougars are a team with athletes, tremendous heart and experience.
Senior Trent Porter won a state championship three years ago as a freshman. Porter propelled Surry in its semifinal game against Galax, scoring 17 points and grabbing 12 rebounds.
Bethel Beats John Marshall, 65-55, in Semis to Reach State Title Game
The starters carried the load for Bethel in its 65-55 semifinal win against John Marshall, scoring all but five of the 65 points for the Bruins.
Forward Bill Weaver continued his strong play, leading Bethel with 22 points and nine rebounds. Shot-blocking transfer Mbai Goto Olivier had a monster game as well. Olivier scored 19 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and recorded two blocks for Bethel. John Marshall scored 30 points in the fourth quarter and cut its deficit to 10, but Bethel again made key free throws at the end to secure a chance to win the AAA state championship.
The Bruins had high expectations early in the season, when news broke about three transfers originally from Chad who would be attending Bethel. Olivier, who has signed to play basketball at Clemson, is the only one out of the three to really transition well into Bethel's style of play. In an interview with the Daily Press, Brehon said Olivier is "a tremendously gifted athlete."
Bethel plays T.C. Williams High School Friday night for the state championship.
Surry Beats Galax, 68-50, in Semifinals for Chance at State Title
The Cougars (15-12) are relentless right now, and Surry fans want just one more game of fearless play to bring home a state championship, an accomplishment the Cougars achieved three years ago. On Wednesday night, Trent Porter racked up a double-double, scoring 17 points and pulling down 12 rebounds. John Newman produced a double-double as well, recording 12 points and 11 rebounds.
Surry plays Nelson County Saturday for the Group A Division I state championship.
Bethel Wins Quarterfinal
Bethel beat the Langley Saxons, 50-37, in the boys AAA state quarterfinal at Churchland High in Portsmouth Saturday night. Forward Bill Weaver led the way for the Bruins with 20 points and clutch free throw shooting down the stretch to help secure the win for the Peninsula District and Eastern Region champions.
The Bruins jumped out to an early lead and appeared to have an easy win, especially with the opening points coming from an alley-oop dunk connection from guard Paul Meredith to Weaver.
Bethel dominated the first half, leading 31-13 entering the locker room. Langley kept fighting and outscored Bethel, 12-4, in the third quarter. The fourth quarter had the fans on their feet, with Langley pulling to within five points with 1:38 left in regulation. The free throws finally began falling and Bethel closed its quarterfinal game out, 50-37, improving its record to 29-1.
Surry Rolls Past Page County in Quarterfinal
These guys are hot. Fortunately, the Surry Cougars have gotten streaky at the right time, entering the A Division I semifinal game in Richmond behind John Newman's sharp shooting. The Cougars rolled past Page County, 93-75, in the quarterfinal game at Smithfield High Saturday night. Newman led Surry with 33 points and Vincent Batten dropped in 32 points.
Kings Fork Loses, 59-39, to T.C. Williams
The Kings Fork Bulldogs lost their quarterfinal game to T.C. Williams, 59-39, in Northern Virginia. T.C. Williams, which is now in the AAA title game facing Bethel, stormed out of the locker room, starting the third quarter with a 14-2 run. The Titans never looked back, and Kings Fork could not recover from Williams's quick lead. The Bulldogs finished its storied season 24-6.
Phillip Hines, the editor of the Tidewater Sports Report, covers Southeastern Virginia for MaxPreps. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.