County schools win two, lose two in Nov. 24 exhibition action –
By Mark Carpenter –
Round Two of the annual Southern Hills Athletic Conference preview nights came to Peebles High School on the night after Thanksgiving as a packed house got a first, though brief, glimpse of what the SHAC boys’ basketball teams may offer in the 2017-18 campaign. In the preview format of just playing two quarters and coaches using everyone on their roster, it may not be the best way to forecast what is to come, and fans certainly left the gym muttering “that team is pretty good” or “that team is going to struggle”, but all of that remains to be seen.
Just as in the earlier girls preview, the match ups for last Friday night were set using the coaches poll from the C103 Basketball Kickoff Party. The West Union Dragons and Whiteoak Wildcats were both chosen to finish last and first-year head coach Greg Himes is obviously going to use that fact as motivation for his squad. If Himes wanted to prove a few doubters wrong in the preview, he and the Dragons succeeded as they used a 16-0 run that spanned over two periods to race past the Wildcats in a half of play, 38-21.
The Dragons fell behind early when a pair of 5-0 runs gave Whiteoak an 11-6 advantage. West Union answered with a three ball from Elijah McCarty and a steal by Bowan Tomlin that ended in an old-fashioned “and one” late in the first period was the score that began the big West Union run.
Up 15-13 after one stanza, the Dragons turned up the defensive pressure, forced some turnovers, and exploded for the first 10 points of the second quarter, six of those coming from Tomlin, who at times seemed to be all over the floor. Now with a comfortable lead, a nice baseline drive by Ryan Rothwell made it 28-17, followed by a Rothwell steal and score. The Dragons finished off the successful half with a McCarty three and another Tomlin bucket to claim a 38-21 preview victory.
In just a half of play, the Dragons placed two players in double figures, with Tomlin and McCarty tallying 14 and 12 respectively. Garrett Vogler added 7 for the winners. Whiteoak was paced by 6 points each from Trever Yeager and Ryan Roberts.
“Our guys came out and played with a lot of energy tonight,” said Coach Himes in a postgame radio interview. “We gave a great effort tonight. When our kids buy into what we are doing, we are going to be okay.”
“We can play 10 or 12 deep as it showed tonight and with our style of play we will need all of those bodies.”
Next up were the picks for fourth place in each division of the SHAC as the North Adams Green Devils faced off with the Fayetteville Rockets. There are many that believe the Green Devils will be a “surprise” team in the conference this season, and in the two quarters of preview play, Coach Nathan Copas really didn’t give scouts too much to ponder as he used his entire squad, often substituting five at a time, but it was still good enough for his troops to outscore the Rockets 28-23 in the two period of action.
Both teams struggled offensively as the contest began, as the Devils took nearly three minutes to score. Two free throws by Austin McCormick started a 6-0 North Adams run, all six by McCormick, and a later long trey by Elijah Young kept the Devils up 9-7. Buckets by Clayton Ramey and Luke Wiederhold gave Fayetteville a four-point lead which as sliced to one when on a Dylan Ison three and the first period ended with the Rockets up 15-14.
The North Adams squad quickly erased that slim Rocket advantage, scoring the first 11 points of the second stanza, beginning with another Ison trey and fueled by baskets from Michael Gill and Cody Rothwell, and concluding with a three ball from Dalton Gardner that gave the Devils a 25-15 advantage. A later long ball from Jacob Call made it 28-17 North Adams and after the Rockets scored the half’s final six points, four of those by sophomore Christopher Murphy, the half closed with the Devils on top 27-23.
Eight different Green Devils scored in the preview, led by six points apiece from Austin McCormick and Dylan Ison. Fayetteville was paced by 7 points from Clayton Ramey and 6 from Murphy.
“We have guys who can score from multiple positions on the floor which will make us tough to guard at times,” said North Adams head coach Nathan Copas. “Hopefully we will keep getting better at what we run and keep executing. We just have to play through mistakes and move on to the next play.”
Next up were the Manchester Greyhounds and even in the pre-season Hounds head coach Joey Darnell has expressed concern about this team’s ability to put point son the board and that was evident on Friday night as Manchester could muster only 11 in two quarters as they matched up with the Lynchburg-Clay Mustangs. On top of only scoring 11, the Greyhounds turned the ball over 16 times in two periods, a ratio which obviously will not work in the regular season.
Four points from Jamie Combs was all the Manchester could manage in the first six minutes of the first quarter of the preview, as the athletic Mustangs used a 16-2 run to lead 19-6 at the conclusion of the first frame.
The Greyhounds only tallied three points, a free throw by Shaun Gould and another Combs basket in the first four minutes of the second quarter as their offensive struggles continued. The Mustangs had no issues finding the net as a pair of three-point goals by Tyler Stevens gave them a commanding 33-9 lead. The final points of the ugly half came from Manchester’s Jalen James as the scoreboard read 33-11 Lynchburg when play ended.
Combs topped the Hounds with 6 points, with Lynchburg led by 8 from Austin Hilt and 6 each from Eric McLaughlin, Stevens, and Raymond Connor.
“We scrimmaged this morning and played really well and I thought some of our kids just got a little nervous tonight when they got in front of a big crowd, said Manchester head coach Joey Darnell. “I think the preview is a good chance to showcase all our kids and get some of the butterflies out.”
“We’re just going to have to do a better job of defending and taking care of the ball.”
After Ripley blitzed Fairfield 36-13 in the preview’s fourth contest, the finale of the evening matched up the two teams that the coaches chose to be the top dogs in the respective divisions of the SHAC, the Eastern Warriors and the host team, the Peebles Indians. No one expected the results of one half of play to be so one-sided, but it was all Warriors as they used some dynamic outside shooting to race past the Indians 37-15 in the two quarters of play.
In the two periods of play, the Warriors fired in seven three-pointers, five of them by sharpshooter Marcus Hamilton, who made the right win his home away from home. The Indians struggled to score, which many teams do against Coach Rob Beucler’s Eastern squads, and found themselves down 14-4 after the first eight minutes.
After scoring the final four points of the first quarter, the Warriors reeled off the first 14 of the second quarter, getting a quartet of treys in a shooting exhibition that left the crowd somewhat in awe. The Indians regained some composure to get baskets from Weston Browning and Tanner Arey and then five points off the bench from Alex Camp, but the half of action ended with the Warriors lighting up the scoreboard to the tune of that 37-15 advantage.
With his five treys, Hamilton led the Warriors with his 15 points. Alex Camp and Weston Browning topped Peebles with 5 apiece.
“We were pretty vanilla with everything we did tonight,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey in the postgame. “The league is going to be a dog fight all the way around this season, I don’t think I have even seen it so balanced. Fans saw a lot of great players out there tonight.”
“We have some guys that just aren’t quite up to speed with everything yet and there are things that we just have to continue to work on. We’ve played well in all our scrimmages to this point and we had a pretty tough practice this morning. Eastern is a tough ball club and we won’t have to see them again until February.”
The focus for the four county boys’ squads now turns to the regular season, which begins this Friday night, with all four teams in action. West Union will travel to Fayetteville, North Adams will host Minford, Manchester will host Fairfield, and Peebles will be on their home court, entertaining the Whiteoak Wildcats.