SHEPHERDSTOWN — It may have taken a while for it all to come together, but when it did, the large Senior Night crowd on hand at the Butcher Center saw Shepherd give them what they came to see.
Shepherd feted seven seniors, using them as escorts for their parents and relatives in a center court ceremony. The crowd cheered and applauded each one. There were T-shirts being given away by the hundreds. Shepherd’s 2012 conference champion football team was recognized.
And there was a highly entertaining WVIAC game that featured a white-hot pace and enough scoring and individual highlights to satisfy most anybody.
The Rams defeated West Virginia Wesleyan, 105-91, buoyed by an 18-point scoring spree in the first 4:05 that began the nonstop scoring in the second half.
All seven of the Shepherd seniors played.
Possible All-America forward Chad Moore made his final regular season game one to remember with his 39 points, 11-of-12 marksmanship from the foul line, five assists, and five rebounds. Brantley Osborne set a Shepherd single-season record for the three-pointers with the five he used to get most of his 21 points. Sidney McCray, the lean 6-foot-7 senior, had his most productive home game of the season, scoring 14 points and retrieving six rebounds for his family that had come from Milton, Florida to see his final regular season game.
It was the constant fullcourt press the Rams used that lit a Daytona 500 pace to the entire game. With Moore double-teaming the Bobcat guards in the backcourt, the pressure was disruptive and fueled a tempo that led to open shots by both teams from beginning to end.
The aggressive press was withstood for a time by the Patrick Beilein-coached Bobcats. When 6-foot-7 Kelsey Williams was on hand, the game was a sometimes-frenzied chess match of his scoring against Moore’s productivity. But when Williams drew his third foul in the first half, the Bobcats were fortunate to find face-masked Chris Dewberry to make a trio of three-pointers.
When the stew had temporarily stopped bubbling at halftime, it was 44-44 and the crowd of about 1,000 paying and complimentary patrons caught their collective breath at the lone concession stand.
If those seeking nachos, popcorn, and beverage were late returning to their seats, they missed a definitive part of the game.
In the first 4:05 of the half, Shepherd was crackling hot, outscoring the wide-eyed Bobcats, 18-2, to take a 62-46 lead.
Moore was on fire, headed toward a 24-point half. Osborne was equally on fire, moving to a 13-point half. McCray filled the few seconds when neither of those two prolific Rams weren’t damaging the Bobcats with his all 14 of his points.
Shepherd needed all three scorers in its 61-point half because Bobcat freshman, Garrett Grantham, was having a 13-point half himself missing only one shot and finishing a 28-minute stand that showed 6-for-8 from the field and a total of 15 points.
The Rams had 18- and 19-point leads at times, and they never allowed the Bobcats to any closer than 12 points in any part of the half.
The blistering stats had the Rams shooting 57 percent from the field, a scalding 55 percent on three-point tries, and 83 percent from the foul line. All that true-aim was needed because the Bobcats made 55 percent of their shots and 57 percent of their three-pointers.
In the WVIAC standings, Shepherd finished sixth and qualified for a first-round tournament game at home. The overall record was 15-11. Beilein’s first year in Buckhannon had the Bobcats at 11-14 overall and 8-13 in conference games.
Senior Night had been a raucous success for the Shepherd side as well as those who came to see Grantham, a freshman and Jefferson High grad, have his most productive college game.