Apr. 9—SHORT GAP, W.Va. — After just one win in eight games, including a 49-40 home loss to rival Frankfort, Keyser needed a breakthrough. If not for postseason implications, for program morale.
With senior Vito Amoruso and juniors Sammy Bradfield and Seth Earnest out of the lineup for Thursday, the Golden Tornado's outlook appeared bleak.
But the Broadwater brothers ushered the way offensively, and a relentless 1-3-1 zone defense flummoxed the Falcons as Keyser pulled off the road upset to win 48-47.
"The kids just keep buying in, and we've had our backs against the wall all year," Golden Tornado head coach John Haines Jr. said. "We obviously had a lot of shakeup in the lineup, but they just laid it out there on the line and knew what they had to do.
"We might not be great basketball players, but they leave it all on the line. ... The whole Keyser basketball program needed this win."
As freshman Noah Broadwater traipsed to the charity stripe with 37.4 seconds left, the stakes couldn't get much higher in a varsity debut.
Broadwater, with Keyser clinging to a 46-45 lead, needed both free throws. Nerves were at an all-time high in a 1-and-1 scenario. But like a seasoned veteran, the first-year player drilled both, giving the Golden Tornado some breathing room.
Frankfort cut into the deficit after Brady Whitacre scored in the lane to make it 48-47 with 17.4 seconds left. The Falcons got one more chance with the ball after an empty Keyser trip to the line, but a corner jumper from Brock Robinette was too strong.
For a Frankfort (4-7) squad who needs every win it can get locked in a tight sectional seeding battle with Petersburg for the top spot, Thursday was unmistakably frustrating.
"We held them point-wise, we held them down," Falcons head coach Scott Slider said. "They scored 48 points. You should be able to win a high school basketball game when they score 48 points.
"The biggest thing for us is we need to put the ball in the hole."
Though the younger Broadwater hit the big shots late, the elder brother carried the torch as Keyser's senior leader on offense.
Darrick Broadwater equaled Robinette with a game-high 15 points, scoring 13 of his points during the Golden Tornado's second-half resurgence. With half of Keyser's points after the break, he helped the visitors outscore Frankfort 26-24.
Noah Broadwater was second with seven points, making a 3-pointer during the second quarter to help keep Keyser within striking distance, down 23-22 at the half.
"He's going to have a very bright future at Keyser High School," Haines said. "Overall we have a great freshman class. We're probably going to move a few more up just to practice with the JV and varsity to prepare them for the future."
It was a true offense by committee effort, as Lonnie Pridemore, Trevor Seabolt and Hunter VanPelt each scored six.
In the absence of some important pieces, Keyser received production from a myriad of sources.
"It was unfortunate, we had some players in quarantine who can't be there," Haines said. "But we got some younger kids that could really step up and play and help us offensively."
After Frankfort exited the opening eight minutes with a 10-7 lead — thanks to six points from Jansen Moreland, who finished with nine, in the frame — the Golden Tornado came out in the second in a 1-3-1 zone.
The Falcons did well at first with Robinette hitting a three, he finished 3 for 5 beyond the arc. The rest of the team, with the exception of Jake Clark who tallied 11 points and drilled five field goals, struggled.
Instead of going high low and feeding the ball into the heart of the paint, Frankfort too often settled for jumpers. And on a night when they weren't falling, that proved to be trouble.
"Once we got past the front guy, the older Broadwater brother who was out front, too many times we weren't looking to attack when we had numbers," Slider said, "4-on-3, 3-on-2 and we weren't looking to go to the basket. We were settling for passing the ball to the other side and keeping the ball on the perimeter.
"We shot six fouls shots tonight because we didn't go to the basket."
The usually clutch Whitacre was held in check for just five points, and Bryceten Daubenmire garnered the same total.
And on a night where its Mineral County rivals secured the cathartic road upset, Frankfort was left with an antithetical feeling.
Now that Keyser is in Class AAA due to West Virginia's new basketball classifications, there will be no sectional playoff rubber match. Slider won't lose sleep over that.
In the junior varsity game, Keyser won 35-29. The Golden Tornado were led by Michael Schell with 15 points and Anthony Mele with eight. Frankfort was topped by Luke Robinette with eight points and Peyton Slider ended with seven.
Frankfort is home against Spring Mills tomorrow at 6 p.m. while Keyser faces off with Trinity Christian at 1 p.m.
Alex Rychwalski is a sportswriter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.