With all the intricacies and complexities of the game of basketball, it still all boils down to one common theme. If you can put the ball in the basket, you will win a lot of games. If you can’t, you are in for some long nights. The Peebles Indians found that out the hard way on Tuesday, Feb. 23 as they traveled to Northwest high School to face the Portsmouth Clay Panthers in a Division IV sectional championship game. For the number four seeded Indians, it was their tourney opener after a week of inactivity and perhaps the rustiness showed.
Plagued by an issue that has haunted them all season, Peebles shot just 31% from the field on Tuesday night and that performance made their stay in the tourney a “one and done” affair as the Panthers from Clay captured the sectional title with a 55-42 win over the Indians.
“We knew coming in they were pretty good and we hoped to do some things that could hurt them,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey in his post game radio interview with C103. “I thought we were pretty good defensively but we just didn’t shoot the ball well, missed shots we would normally hit. I didn’t think we responded well to some of the physical play inside and we didn’t rebound offensively like we usually do.”
“We told the kids that Clay was a five seed in name only and they probably could have been the one seed in this sectional. That’s the game of basketball. You’d like to come out and knock down every shot that you take and I thought we had some clean looks and at the same time I thought we took some shots early in possessions that might have hurt us.”
A season that began so brightly with an 8-0 start ended with a 8-7 mark in their final 15 outings for the Indians, who struggled on Tuesday night, especially on the offensive end.
After they ran their patented lob play to Scout Kremin for the game’s first basket, the Indians looked to have a spark as a Camron Gordley three-pointer gave them a 7-4 early advantage. That advantage wasn’t around for long, however, as the Panthers reeled off six straight to grab the lead. A trey by Clay’s Brody Riffe kept the Panthers on top 13-11 after the first quarter.
A three ball by Peebles’ Ethan Parrett on their first possession of the second period, followed by a steal and score by Tanner Arey put the Indians up by three, but in the blink of an eye, the Panthers were back in front with another 6-0 run that made it 19-16. The Indians rallied to tie it at 19 and a three-point play on a nice baseline drive by Arey gave Peebles a 22-21 lead, but that was the final time that the Indians found themselves on the plus side of the scoreboard.
Clay answered quickly with back to back three-pointers by Nate Hinze and when Hinze again delivered from long distance at the buzzer, the Panthers had completed an 11-2 run and grabbed a 32-24 halftime lead.
Though they looked down and out at the end of the first half, the Indians came out on the warpath in the third period, getting a reverse layup from Camron Gordley, a three-pointer by Arey, and another Gordley bucket for a 7-0 run and suddenly, it was a one-point game again. Clay called a timeout and regrouped to get two quick scores before another bucket by Gordley made it 36-33 Panthers. A basket by Clay’s Cole Gilliland closed out the third quarter with his team on top 38-34 and the outcome still very much in doubt.
That doubt became reality in the final quarter as the proverbial lid on the basket seemed to invade the Peebles end, as the Indians scored just a pair of Arey free throws in the first seven minutes of the stanza as the Panthers pulled away. Outscoring Peebles 10-2, Clay moved out to a 48-36 lead with just 1:26 remaining.
At the 1:20 mark, Arey hit two more free throws as the Indians were still without a field goal in the fourth quarter, a string finally broken when Gordley got a stick back bucket with only 55 seconds to play. By that point, the Panthers were still up nine and pushed that out to 15 on a steal and score by Cameron King. The final basket of the 2015-16 season for Peebles came by senior Tucker Schmitz as the disappointed Indians and their fans headed home while the fifth seeded Panthers celebrated a sectional championship and a 55-42 victory.
In their final outing, the Indians, who finished the 2015-16 season at 16-7, were led by 14 points from Tanner Arey and 13 from Camron Gordley. It was also the final appearance in a Peebles uniform for seniors Jase Conley, Tucker Schmitz, Brennan Sims, Scout Kremin, Brandon Shannon, Dillon Evans, Tyler Ryan, and Dalton Barr, a senior class that has been part of a very successful run that unfortunately will not take the Indians back to the district or regional tournaments this season.
“We’ve got three starters back and all of them will improve their game before next year,” said Coach Arey. “We lose an awful lot though in these seniors. All of them are great kids with great parents and they all show up every day and work hard. We’re really going to miss them terribly, we’ve been through a lot together.”
The victorious Panthers were led in scoring by four players in double figures, Cameron King with 14, and 11 points apiece from Brody Riffe, Cole Gilliland, and Nate Hinze.
PCHS 13 19 6 17 —55
PHS 11 13 10 8 —42
PCHS (55): Riffe 5 0-0 11, Gilliland 4 3-4 11, King 5 4-5 14, Willaims 4 0-3 8, Hinze 4 0-0 11, Team 22 7-12 55.
PHS (42): Schmitz 2 0-0 4, Arey 4 5-5 14, p[arrett 1 0-0 3, Kremin 2 0-0 4, Ryan 2 0-0 4, Gordley 5 2-4 13, Team 16 7-9 42.
PCHS- Riffe 1, Hinze 3
PHS- Arey 1, Parrett 1, Gordley 1