Bees season ends in state quarterfinals vs. Colts

Mar. 9—CHARLESTON — The East Fairmont Bees came a long way in the 2022-23 season, capping their most successful regular season in school history with a sectional and regional championship. But in their first game of state tournament competition, the Bees could go no further, falling to Philip Barbour 62-45.

Playing their third game against Philip Barbour this season, the third-seeded Bees fell behind early against the six-seeded Colts and could not string together enough momentum to ever seize the lead throughout Thursday's contest.

"Hats off to Philip Barbour, they were the best team today, they played well," East Fairmont head coach James Beckman said.

"We did a lot of uncharacteristic things today that we hadn't done all season long. That's being in the moment here for the first time in 16 years. From us not controlling the glass to not being able to control our one-v.-one's out in the open court, and that just comes with time. We're going to build on this and get back here next year."

East Fairmont's offense was stop-and-start against the Colts, who they had beaten in their two previous meetings, once in the regular season and once in the sectional championship.

The Bees shot 16-56 (28.6%) from the field, and committed 22 turnovers.

Thursday's game got off to a rough start by both teams, a collective 0-6 start with three turnovers kept both teams off the scoreboard until a fast break layup by Philip Barbour's Braylyn Sparks became the contest's first points nearly two minutes into the first period.

Sparks scored 10 points in the first half, finishing with 11 points, four rebounds, five assists and two steals.

Philip Barbour led 18-12 after the first quarter, and 32-20 at halftime.

"Starting well was really important, not getting behind," Philip Barbour head coach Rick Mauser said. "[East Fairmont's] a tough team, they put that pressure on you and if you're behind, it just seems to snowball. They handled it very well, of course we turned the ball over but, for the most part, we got the ball down and got good shots and made jump shots."

Along with Sparks' strong first half, Mackenna Halfin contributed heavily to the Colts' successes, nearly finding herself with a double-double by halftime with seven points and eight rebounds. Halfin finished with 13 points and 15 rebounds, eight offensive.

Philip Barbour out-rebounded East 44-36 on the game.

Halfin was a force inside, getting extra possessions and drawing multiple fouls against East. The Bees had seven team fouls by the 1:15 mark of the first quarter, a trend that would lead to a heavy disparity in foul shots in Philip Barbour's favor.

Philip Barbour worked their way to 40 foul shots against East, shooting 27-40, including 16-27 in the second half. After bringing the game to arm's length against the Bees, getting to the line at a steady rate helped the Colts control Thursday's duel.

"We got to the foul line, we were more aggressive going to the hole, getting the ball inside," Mauser said.

"That's a big part [...] You're getting down to games where the foul shooting is going to matter. And I think it did today, it might not show as a two or three point game, but we outscored them from the foul line pretty good."

In contrast, East Fairmont shot 12-19 from the stripe.

Out of halftime, the Bees had moments that made it look as if they were building a head of steam. A drawn charge or a tough lay-in would give East life throughout the third, but the young Bees could not sustain a drive, and after trailing by a dozen at halftime, East had made no progress going into the fourth down 47-35.

A big portion of East's offensive diet, transition points, was tough to come by against Philip Barbour, with the Bees managing just six fast break points. The Colts opted not to press throughout the game. Inversely, Philip Barbour handled the Bees' press well for much of the game, and moved the ball up the court with purpose after misses — and sometimes after makes — to catch East's defense off guard and score before the Bees could set up.

The Colts scored 14 fast break points. Along with their advantage at the foul line and a 16-5 edge in second chance points, there was plenty in Philip Barbour's favor Thursday.

"We want to get out and run in transition," Beckman said. "A lot of uncharacteristic things happened today. We weren't very disciplined and transition-wise we were unable to get out and run and score."

"We were chasing a lot, putting them on the foul line entirely too much, and we didn't control the glass. That's us, those are fixable things, and we're young, we had a lot of young kids out on the floor."

Playing in a big spot in the Charleston Coliseum, East pointed to experience as a pivotal factor in Thursday's game. Philip Barbour returned to the state tournament this year after an appearance in 2021-22, while the Bees made their first trip since 2007.

"They had something we didn't have — the experience," Beckman said. "They had their experiences last year, and at times they got the best of us, especially early in the game. It felt like we were playing catch up the entire time.

"I told them in the locker room, there's nothing to hang your head about. We had a remarkable season, 23 wins, a lot of records set, 17 wins in a row, most points scored in history. Those are things we want to look back on — we set the bar high for ourselves next year, which is what we want to do. This group of girls is going to be hungry."

Five Colts scored in double figures in a balanced effort — Mattie Marsh led all scorers with 15, Halfin scored 13, Braylyn Sparks and Averi Carpenter each finished with 11, while Arrington Sparks scored 10. Jarjalynn Ward scored two for Philip Barbour.

Kenly Rogers led East in scoring with 11 points. Morgan Cochran scored eight points, Brooklyn Shupe scored seven to go with nine rebounds. Tarayn Myers scored six with seven rebounds. Kailee Haymond and Jalyn Jenkins each scored four, McKenzie Moyer finished with three and Kyleigh Fridley finished with two.

The Bees graduate seniors Cochran and Moyer, while bringing back a large part of their team — Rogers, Myers, Fridley and Jenkins are currently juniors, while Shupe, Haymond and Emma Moore are currently freshmen.

After a historic season, the Bees now turn their sights to coming back stronger than ever next year.

"Honestly, it feels really good," Cochran said of the season. "I know we lost, but I know these girls will never give up. They're still young girls, and if they keep working harder, big things will come. It's not over yet in my eyes for them."

"We all felt like we worked really hard last year, and this just shows you, when you get down here it's another level," Rogers said. "This offseason we've got to pick it up and work even harder than we did last year."

No. 6 Philip Barbour will play the winner of No. 2 Wayne vs. No. 7 Sissonville on Friday.

Reach Nick Henthorn at 304-367-2548, on Twitter @nfhenthorn_135 or by email at