CLARKSBURG -- The new kid on the block took down the state's reigning champion. Heralded freshman Migel Lockett buried a pair of free throws with the score tied and :04 remaining as Robert C. Byrd knocked off defending Class AA state champion Bridgeport, 63-61.
After the Indians' Brandon Brumage tied the score with a 15-foot jump shot with :12 to play, Lockett took the inbounds pass from Michael DeFazio, went the length of the floor and was fouled driving to the basket. Following a Bridgeport timeout, Lockett calmly stepped to the free throw line and canned both attempts. The Indians had one last opportunity, but a desperation 3-pointer fell well short of the basket.
"I was nervous, but the upperclassmen told me to just relax and take my time," Lockett said. "Bobby (Buffey) told me it's just like WI (middle school). Just put them in."
Three times Robert C. Byrd (1-0, 1-0 Big 10) trailed by six points in the second half, but each time whittled the lead back within reach. Noah Pettrey's jumper with 4:16 to play gave the Eagles the lead for good at 54-52, but Robert C. Byrd connected on just five of nine free throw attempts in the final 2:00 before Lockett's to help keep the Indians in the game.
DeFazio led Robert C. Byrd with a game-high 21 points, and was crucial in the second half, connecting on five of six shots, including two of two from behind the 3-point line.
"At times we played real good and at other times we didn't. It's early and that's just something we've got to get ironed out," Robert C. Byrd coach Chris Sprenger said. "It was a good win, though. We hung around, played good defense and found a way to win."
Robert C. Byrd forced the Indians into 21 turnovers, including six in the fourth quarter. Buffey added a 13 points and a game-high six assists.
"(Our guards) felt like we could pressure the ball and make them give it up," Lockett said. "This was a big win for us. It gives us a lot of confidence."
Tyler Dodd led Bridgeport with 18 points, while Nick Carbacio and Tim Lindsey followed with 16 and 11 points, respectively.
"We just haven't been together long enough to get a good feel or rhythm," Bridgeport coach Gene Randolph said. "I think once we do that we'll be fine. Now if it's after Christmas and we're still having this conversation, I'll be a little concerned.
"But this was a good game. It was a typical Robert C. Byrd-Bridgeport game."
Robert C. Byrd returns to action Friday when it visits Parkersburg South, while Bridgeport travels to Grafton.
Sports writer Mike Nutter can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org