Apr. 13—KEYSER, W.Va. — It’s every fourth-year’s dream to have the best game of your season on Senior Night. Darrick Broadwater was living that dream Monday.
The Keyser guard finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds against Petersburg, pushing a renewed Golden Tornado team past the Vikings, 45-39, for their second win in three games following a 1-7 start.
With the regular season winding down, Keyser is peaking at just the right time.
“We started all five seniors, and I thought they came out with the intensity we needed,” Golden Tornado head coach John Haines Jr. said. “They played together and got us a nice lead. … They got a nice victory in their last game at Keyser High School.”
In their last home game, the senior opening quintet of Broadwater, Vito Amoruso, Trevor Seabolt, Jacob Malcolm and Kayden Avone played inspiring team defense, not allowing Petersburg to make a field goal until Adam Nasselrodt — who finished with 10 points to equal Bumby VanMeter for a team-high — drilled a three with 1:06 left in the quarter.
The experienced arsenal performed. After Petersburg split a pair of foul shots on its first possession, Keyser proceeded to march on a 14-0 burst, highlighted by six points from Broadwater, to go up by 13 and eventually lead 14-4 after one.
Haines lamented his decision not to play the hot hand, as a lineup change to get the younger guys in backfired a little when the Vikings chipped away to come within 19-16 with 3:30 left in the first half.
“I think maybe I out-coached myself and I should have left them in there a little longer. I’ll take the blame on that,” Haines said. “I just need to get some of those younger kids that haven’t seen much varsity action to play with everybody. We just got to continue to see what works and doesn’t work.”
Broadwater and Amoruso in particular notched standout efforts, combing for 34 of Keyser’s 45 points in the triumph.
The duo did well to stave off Petersburg’s second-quarter blitz, going on a 7-0 run thanks to a pair of Amoruso free throws, a Broadwater drive and a 3-pointer by Amoruso to put Keyser back up by double-digits in the blink of an eye.
After missing time from the court last week, Amoruso looked like he never left with 12 points on three field goals, four rebounds and a 5 for 5 effort from the charity stripe.
“It was great to get Vito back on Senior Night,” Haines said. “He is the glue of our team. He cramped up there at the end, but he wanted in that game. He wanted back for this game. He did what he had to do on and off the court, and it’s great to have him back. And we’re looking forward to getting our other guys back and making a little run come playoff time.”
But the man of the hour was Broadwater. Every time Petersburg rose the blood pressures of the Keyser faithful, the senior took it upon himself to jump-start the offense.
This role was no more evident than during the third quarter when neither team could buy a bucket. Broadwater didn’t get discouraged, and he tallied eight of Keyser’s 10 points in the frame to push the Golden Tornado to the fourth with a 36-25 advantage.
“He’s an athlete,” Haines said of Broadwater, who finished with nine field goals, hitting a pair of first-half threes. “He leaves it all out there on the line. I just said in (the locker room), when you yell at him he just smiles at you.
“He has that calmness about him. He just goes out, if it goes his way it’s ok, if it doesn’t it’s ok too. … He’s usually one of the best players on the court.”
Golden Tornado point guard Hunter VanPelt ended with a team-best six assists to add to his four-point night. Malcolm scored three.
Keyser found itself in the weeds for a spell during the third when Nasselrodt banked in a trey and Jacob Hawk — who scored seven points — laid it into the cup in transition to cut Petersburg’s deficit to 30-25 three minutes into the second half.
A chagrined Haines called timeout to rally the troops.
“At that time I was a little ticked off with our effort, and I kind of fired myself up and got on them a little bit,” Haines said. “For me yelling at them for a change, it actually sparked them I think.”
The Golden Tornado scored the next six points, and Petersburg didn’t score a single one during the final five minutes of the third quarter to trail 36-25 entering the fourth.
In the final frame, the Vikings didn’t get closer than five at any point. Their best chance to make it a one-possession game arrived with 52 seconds left after a Vanmeter trey made it 44-39. Keyser then had two straight empty trips at the line to keep Petersburg in it, but the Vikings came up short on their next two possessions to succumb on the road.
In the junior varsity game, Keyser defeated Petersburg, 49-27.
Anthony Mele led the way with 10 points for the Golden Tornado, followed by Donovan Washington and Michael Schell with eight each.
Caleb Swick topped Petersburg with 12 points and Trevon Crites contributed eight.
As the sectional tournament approaches on the horizon, Keyser is beginning to play like a team that can play spoiler in the playoffs. They’re scheduled to face Moorefield on the road Thursday at 7:30 p.m.
“Like any tournament time, if you play your best basketball of the year anything’s possible,” Haines said. “If we just come together and put four quarters together I think we can compete in the section.”
Petersburg is engaged in a battle with Frankfort to see who will top its Class AA section. The Vikings will have their work cut out for them as they’re at undefeated Pendleton County on Thursday at 7 p.m.
Alex Rychwalski is a sportswriter at the Cumberland Times-News. Follow him on Twitter @arychwal.