The “Elam Ending” is a quirk of The Basketball Tournament that makes the event unique — or, if you’re a Best Virginia fan, spikes your heart rate.
The West Virginia alumni squad fought a back-and-forth game with the Wofford alumni, and were able to build a comfortable two-digit lead for much of the fourth quarter. With just under four minutes to go, Best Virginia was ahead with a score of 61 — according to the Elam Ending, that meant the winning target score was set at 69.
As Kevin Jones and Jamel Morris got Best Virginia within a point of the target number, WoCo Showtime duo Fletcher Magee and Daniel Amigo started to claw their team right back into it. Aided by two Best Virginia turnovers and four misses, hey went off for an 8-0 run to get within a bucket of the win themselves, forcing a next-bucket-wins scenario — a sight seen only in pickup games, the NBA All-Star Game, and of course, TBT.
Juwan Staten, a product of the Press Virginia teams in the 2010s, came up clutch in the final sequence with a steal, dishing the ball up to Jones, who finished the game with a fast break layup.
“It’s the Elam Ending, every point counts, every possession counts, actually,” said guard Tarik Phillip. “Both teams increase the intensity because they want to win, they’re trying to get to the final score.”
The game-ending sequence was reminiscent of the see-saw first half, in which the score margin stayed in double digits. Best Virginia took a one-point lead into halftime, then exploded out of the break with a 11-0 run to open the third quarter.
Jones was the leading scorer for Best Virginia, notching 18 points along with 13 rebounds and a pair of assists. John Flowers added 15 points, and Tarik Phillip added 11 for Best Virginia with 10 rebounds.
“You can prepare as much as you want, there are so many things that go into it,” said Best Virginia coach James Long, who coincidentally transferred to WVU from Wofford. “My Elam Ending strategy is not going to be perfect, my substitutions with 11 and 12 pros is not going to be perfect, you know, we’re all learning together as we go.”
Fletcher Magee, the leading three-point shooter in Division I history, led the game with 21 points, including 12 in the fourth quarter to help grind his team back into the game. Keith Braxton added a double-double with 16 points and 10 assists, while Lee Skinner added eight points and eight assists.
This is Best Virginia’s second win in the history of TBT, after earning a first-round victory over
Best Virginia awaits the result of the 7/10 matchup between D2 and Bleed Virginia, which tips off at 9 p.m. in Charleston.