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Powell’s 46 sparks Barnesville by River

T-L Photo/SETH STASKEY BARNESVILLE SENIOR Luke Powell pulls down a rebound in front of River’s Austin Creamer (3) during Tuesday’s game. Powell scored 46 to spark the Shamrocks to a 85-77 win.

BARNESVILLE — There’s no secret to what the Barnesville Shamrocks want to do during the course of a basketball game.

They want to play fast, get up plenty of shots from behind the 3-point line and let senior leader Luke Powell do his thing.

All three were on full display Tuesday evening in their home opener against River.

Barnesville dictated tempo from the opening tip, knocked in 13 bonus goals and Powell set a career high with 46 points.

Still, however, the Shamrocks found themselves having to stave off a valiant effort from the Pilots in the final minutes to pull out a 85-77 victory.

“We had some kids hit big shots at big times, which opens it up just enough for Luke to take over,” Shamrocks head coach Matt Johnson said.

Playing before a large crowd, the Shamrocks (2-0) seemed to feed off the energy en route to a 22-13 lead after one. They connected five treys in that stretch and extended the margin to 43-33 at the half.

“We kept shooting ourselves in the foot, especially in the first half when I counted we had five (possible) and ones and we didn’t convert a single one, and we had five point-blank layups that we missed,” River head coach Mark Romick said. “When you do that against a team that can score, you’re putting yourself in a hole.”

Powell scored 20 of his points in the first, including an impressive 16-point outburst in the first quarter.

“Luke is just a fantastic basketball player and we’re fortunate to have him on our team, and we’re going to ride him,” Johnson said. “Teams are going to throw junk at him at times, but he just seems able to score the ball, regardless of what is thrown at him and he’s really looking to distribute the basketball, too.”

Powell got going again in the third, scoring 14 more as the Shamrocks extended their lead to what seemed like a relatively comfortable 64-50 margin.

River (1-1) kept swinging in the fourth. However, the Pilots got as close as five at 79-74, but Barnesville was a sharp 12-of-14 at the line in the fourth, including an 8-of-8 effort from Powell.

“Give River credit because they jumped into a trap and it gave us some issues,” Johnson said. “We didn’t take care of the ball and there were times when we had trouble getting it into Luke’s hands. When we were able to get in his hands, obviously good things happened.”

Romick was honestly unsure when one of his teams, which have been known for their defensive prowess, surrendered 85 points in a game.

“Part of that is who we’re playing and Luke Powell is obviously one of the best players in the valley, but you have to give Barnesville credit because they have other kids who can shoot the ball. They can absolutely shoot the ball and it’s not just one or two. They had three or four kids hitting 3s besides Luke Powell.”

While Powell hit a team-high five shots from behind the arc, three other players — Kason Powell, Evan Hudson and Jeremy Hunkler — hit multiple shots from deep, too.

Hudson and Hunkler evenly divided 22 to back Powell, while Kason Powell added nine.

River senior Stone Thompson was on fire in his own right to lead the Pilots. He buried seven 3s and finished with 33.

Talented freshmen Brody Lollathin and Ty Long went for 15 and 11, respectively. Michael Johnson added eight.

“I am proud of how we didn’t give up, stuck with it and kept battling,” Romick said.

The Shamrocks are now 2-0 and will host St. Clairsville on Friday.

River makes its home debut Friday evening when county-rival Monroe Central comes calling.

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