South Webster moves to districts with 61-59 victory –
Story and photos by Mark Carpenter –
Heartbreak again. For the second season in a row, the Peebles Indians suffered a heartbreaking end to their season in a Division IV sectional championship game at Northwest High School. Last year, it was a loss to Portsmouth Clay that sent the Indians packing and on Wednesday night, the Indians were back at Northwest to face the South Webster Jeeps with a sectional title on the line.
Disappointment enveloped the Peebles squad and their faithful once more as they saw their team rally in the first half behind superb offensive performances by seniors Ethan Parrett and Camron Gordley, then build a 13-point third quarter lead, only to see the Jeeps rally and grab a 61-59 win on a basket by Alek Blevins with 7.7 seconds to play, ending the Indians’ season again after just one tournament outing.
“We just made some silly decisions and took some silly shots,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey in his post game radio interview. “We got up by 13 points and then let them back in the game. They turned up their defense and I thought we pressed a little bit and took some early shots, but we knew coming in that they were a really good team.”
Since their final regular season game, the Indians had been off for 12 days and perhaps that had some bearing on their rustiness in the game’s early minutes, as the Jeeps came out of the gate fast and raced to a 10-2 lead, fueled by a pair of three-point goals by senior Shane Zimmerman. It took nearly five minutes for the Indians to gather their bearings and two baskets by Camron Gordley plus a three-pointer from Parrett to cut the gap to 13-9 by the end of the first quarter.
After scoring the final five points of the first period, the Indians made it a 9-0 run with two power scores in the paint from Gordley to begin the second frame, deadlocking the game at 13 apiece, just a hint of the wild second quarter action to come, where the Indians would hit 12 of their 13 shot attempts from the field and reel off 28 points to forge a halftime lead.
Peebles took their first lead of the game at 18-15 after a basket from Tanner Arey and then a three-pointer from Parrett, who was literally on fire the first half. Another Gordley bucket kept the Peebles lead at three, 20-17, and two more long bombs by Parrett brought the Indian Nation to its feet as their team led 26-22.
The offense then turned back to Gordley, but instead of using his usual muscle to get to the rim, the senior forward stepped back and used his shooting touch to can three jumpers to give Peebles a 32-26 advantage. It was then back to Parrett, who found his favorite spot in the corner and drilled his fifth trey of the first half. A drive and score by freshman point guard Weston Browning sent the Indians to the halftime break with all the momentum and a 37-29 lead.
That margin continued to grow as the second half began as the Indians got baskets from both senior Gordleys, Camron and Logan, and another Parrett three from the corner to take a double digit lead at 44-31, but the prosperity was fleeting. South Webster scored the game’s next seven points, getting another Zimmerman three and a bucket from Blevins, and the Indians answered with a basket by Blake Stivers and a Parrett free throw after a technical foul was whistled on Jeeps’ coach Ryan Fenton. That gave Peebles a 47-38 advantage, but the technical foul also seemed to fire up the Jeeps, as they stepped up their game on both ends, especially on defense.
South Webster finished the third period on a 7-2 run to cut the Peebles lead to 51-45 as the two teams headed to the benches to prepare for the final eight minutes.
That final eight didn’t start well for the Tribe as the Jeeps scored the frame’s first 10 points and suddenly the scoreboard flipped to a South Webster lead at 55-51. Plagued by foul trouble and taken out of his usual offensive game, Arey came through with 3:46 to play with a basket “and one” to pull his team back within one, and when Camron Gordley repeated that performance, it was a 6-0 Peebles run that put the Indians back in front 57-55 and set the stage for an exciting finish.
South Webster’s Matthew Shonkwiler scored and was fouled with 1:07 to play and missed the free throw, but the Jeeps snagged the rebound and Zimmerman was fouled, hitting the second of two free throws to give his team a 58-57 lead. The Indians turned the ball over on an out of bounds play under their own basket, and the Jeeps added another free throw to lead 59-57 with 36.9 seconds left.
A South Webster foul sent Parrett to the stripe with 26.9 remaining and the senior calmly sank both shots to tie the game at 59, giving the Jeeps the chance to hold for a last shot for the win. Blevins got the ball at the top of the key and drove to the basket, plowing over a couple of Peebles defenders on his way, and banked one home with 7.7 seconds left on the clock. Trailing by two, the Indians hurriedly got the ball up the court, where Gordley missed a jumper from the free throw line, but Browning was fouled in the scrum for the rebound. The freshman stepped to the line with 0.7 seconds on the clock with a chance to send the game to overtime, but his front end of the bonus was off the mark and time ran out on the Peebles season as the Jeeps celebrated a sectional championship and trip to the Convo next week, hanging on for the 61-59 victory.
The loss marked the end of the high school careers for a quartet of Peebles seniors, Camron Gordley, Logan Gordley, Blake Stivers, and Ethan Parrett. Camron Gordley and Parrett were the big offensive threats in the loss for the Indians, each tallying 21 points, with Parrett firing in six three-point shots.
South Webster was led by a huge night from Alek Blevins, who racked up a game-high 26 points. Two more Jeeps reached double figures in the title game win, Shane Zimmerman with 18 and Matthew Shonkwiler with 11.
“The scouting report on Blevins was to keep him out of the paint and we didn’t do a very good job of that tonight,” said Coach Arey.
Despite the heartbreaking end, the Indians turned in another successful season, finishing 17-6.
“We have some good kids coming back, but losing the seniors is one of the hardest parts of coaching,” said Arey. “They become like your own kids and you have to let them go, it’s emotional.”
“All four of our seniors are just wonderful kids and they will all be successful in life.”
13 16 16 16 -61
9 28 14 8 –59
S. Webster (61): Shonkwiler 5 0-1 11, Zimmerman 5 4-6 18, Ruth 1 1-2 3, S. Blevins 1 1-2 3, A. Blevins 10 4-5 26, Team 22 10-16 61.
Peebles (59): Arey 2 1-1 5, Robinson 1 0-0 2, Parrett 6 3-4 21, Stivers 1 0-0 2, Browning 2 0-1 4, L. Gordley 2 0-0 4, C. Gordley 10 1-1 21, Team 23 5-7 59.
S. Webster (7): Shonkwiler 1, Zimmerman 4, A. Blevins 2
Peebles (6): Parrett 6