In science, they speak of unstoppable forces in the universe. It may be that one of those forces is currently wearing #12 for the Peebles Indians varsity boys basketball squad. The uniform #12 happens to rest on the shoulders of one Beau Justice, who is quickly proving that he is one of the top players in southern Ohio and perhaps event the entire state. His talents were showcased on Saturday night as he and the Peebles Indians faced off in the 2013 McDonald’s Classic with the West Union Dragons on the home court of the Dragons.
Justice poured in 47 points in a performance for the ages as the Indians captured the Classic championship with a 77-60 victory over West Union. The Indians’ junior showed no favorites, getting 15 points in the first quarter, 7 in the second, 12 in the third, and finishing off with 13 in the fourth, including 9 of 10 from the free throw line.
“It feels good to get this win,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey. “This county tournament is a big deal. A lot of people come out and what a great crowd and great atmosphere we had tonight.”
“That was a good West Union team out there. Coach Harrop is doing a great job with them and they play extremely hard. They are definitely a team headed in a positive direction.”
The game actually began with another Indian drilling a three, as Cody Ireton hit from long distance on the second Peebles possession. After an A.J. Frost free throw for the Dragons, the Indians took off on a 10-0 run to grab an early 13-1 advantage, one they would never surrender. Those 10 points all came courtesy of Justice, a pair of three pointers, a steal and layup and two free throws. Justice fired in another trey moments later and it looked like it was going to be a long night for the home team as they trailed 16-2.
The Dragons momentarily recovered with baskets from Trenton Price and Tyler Sininger but the first quarter ended with Peebles comfortably in front 20-6.
The second period began with a mini-run by the Dragons, a three by James Sellars on their first possession and a Dean Hall bucket on their second. Hall got an offensive stick back later to pull West Union within 22-13 but the answer was the fourth Justice three of the game and a Tyler Ryan free throw to put Peebles on top by 13. That was where the margin stayed after a rather low-scoring second stanza left the Indians in front at the break, after a Zach Arrasmith three, 31-18.
Not that he needed any extra motivation but the halftime break must have given Justice a spark as he came out to open the third quarter with baskets on the first three Indians’ possessions, the last of those a long range bomb that made it 38-18, the biggest Peebles lead of the night. That Justice flurry must also have lit a flame under the Dragons as they responded in a big way, mostly with senior Jeffrey Franklin in action. Franklin scored on an offensive rebound and then on the next trip down got ahead of the pack for a resounding two-handed dunk that put the home faithful into a frenzy.
Peebles’ Ryan was called for a foul on the dunk and Franklin hit a free throw and a little bit of momentum swung back to the green and white. Later baskets from Hall and Price capped a 9-2 run and forced Coach Arey to use a timeout to stem the tide. The Indians regrouped and yet another Justice three pushed the lead back to 14 at 45-31. The Dragons weren’t phased and came right back with another 9-2 spurt led by Sininger and Sellars. A Sellars score made it 47-40 but Frost was whistled for a technical foul soon after and the Indians converted four free throws to push their lead back to double digits.
Ryan hit a bucket in the paint with eight ticks left in the third quarter and heading into the final eight minutes, it was Peebles still in front, 53-44.
A Hall basket on the first West Union possession of the final quarter cut the Peebles lead back to seven, but that was as close as the home team was going to get. Another personal 7-0 Justice run put the Indians up 64-49 with 5:26 to play. The Dragons got a three-point play from Frost a minute later and then a 6-0 run again brought hope to the home side as they drew within 68-60 but there was just 2:12 to play, but those were the last Dragon points of the night.
The lid on the coffin was sealed when Arrasmith converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 1:46 left and down the stretch the Indians got free throws from Ireton and Justice to sew up their third Classic championship in five years, by the final count of 77-60.
Justice’s big night was nothing short of amazing, with West Union trying to defend him in any way possible, coming just three points shy of tying the school record for points in a game, held by his brother Blake who was sitting in the front row. He hit six three-point shots and was 13 of 14 overall from the charity stripe on his way to 47. The big point totals from the junior guard sometimes overshadow some very significant contributions from his teammates, who seem to have the knack for finding the open man. Eric Schmitz added 10 for the winners with Zach Arrasmith getting 8 and Cody Ireton adding 7 while controlling the defensive boards.
“Beau just had a terrific night,” said Coach Arey. “He hit all kinds of shots even with people in his face and when he’s on he can do that. He just does everything well and has great range, making him very difficult to guard.”
“It was also great to see so many of our old players coming back tonight to help cheer our kids on.”
West Union placed three players in double figures, led by a double double of 16 points and 12 rebounds from James Sellars. Dean Hall scored 14 and Trenton Price 12 for the Dragons, who now stand 5-4 on the season and will be back in Southern Hills Athletic Conference action on Friday night when they host Whiteoak.
The Dragons actually had more field goal than the Indians, 25-24, but the difference was that Peebles hit eight three-point shots to West Union’s one.
The Indians remain undefeated on the season at 5-0 and will be out of league play on Friday night with a long trek to Ironton. Peebles will come right back Saturday night to host Eastern Pike in another non-league contest.
After the championship contest, the McDonald’s Classic All-Tournament Team was named and they included Justice and Arrasmith from Peebles, Sellars and Price from West Union, Austin Smith from Manchester and Hank Sparks from North Adams.
20 11 22 24 —77
6 12 26 16 —60
Peebles (77): Arrasmith 3 1-1 8, Justice 14 13-14 47, E. Schmitz 3 4-6 10, Ireton 2 2-3 7, Ryan 1 1-2 3, Gordley 1 0-2 2,
Team 24 21-28 77.
W. Union (60): Price 5 2-4 12, Franklin 3 1-2 7, Frost 2 2-3 6, Hall 7 0-2 14, Sininger 2 1-2 5, Sellars 6 3-4 16,
Team 25 9-18 60.
Three-Point Goals: Peebles- Arrasmith 1, Justice 6, Ireton 1
W. Union- Sellars 1