Sophomore scores 24, senior Arey adds 23 as Indians take district title –
By Mark Carpenter –
Convo P. A. announcer Lou Horvath referred to him as “Automatic” all afternoon, but whatever you want to call it, Peebles sophomore point guard Weston Browning came up big at a big time on Saturday. The Indians have come to expect the 23 points they got from senior guard Tanner Arey, but when they can get 24 more from Browning they are in pretty good shape and in Saturday’s Division IV district championship game, they were in good shape.
Facing the Green Bobcats at “The Convo” for a Division IV district title, Browning sliced his way through the Green defense for his game-high 24 points, helping to lead the Indians to the fifth district crown in school history, as they controlled the pace from start to finish and handed the Bobcats a 75-56 defeat.
“My teammates just created so many opportunities for me today,” said Browning in the locker room after the win. “That just makes everything easier. We knew they were a little smaller than us and we thought we could take the ball to the hole. It feels amazing to be going to the regional tournament my sophomore season.”
“We have been playing well for awhile,” said Peebles head coach Josh Arey after picking up his 150th career victory. “You could sense it in practice with everyone knowing their role. We did a lot of film work on them and felt like we could get to the rim on them and any time you can shoot from two feet instead of 19, you’re better off.”
“We were able to take advantage of our size and the kids really hit the glass hard on both ends. Weston wouldn’t have had to score a point to be my player of the game, just for the defensive job he did on (Tanner) Kimbler, and he was aggressive offensively the whole game.”
The Indians were searching for their 20th win of the season as they took the court Saturday afternoon and from the opening tip, they were ready to play, scoring the game’s first six points, then using their height advantage to get consecutive put backs from Arey and Bostin Robinson to go in front 10-3. Peebles maintained that lead throughout the first quarter and with two Browning free throws, an Arey trey, and a bucket by Blake Smalley, led 22-13 after the first eight-minute frame.
The red-hot Tribe kept the wagons circled as the second period began, when another Arey three ball plus a basket inside from Blake Hawes stretched the lead out to 27-13. The Bobcats responded with an 8-2 run to slice the deficit to single digits, but Browning hit baskets from inside and outside the arc, then went coast to coast for a layup and a 36-23 advantage for his team. A free throw by Robinson with not time left on the clock sent the Indians to the halftime break with a 41-30 lead.
“We knew they liked to run, but we can run a little bit too,” added Coach Arey. “They got to the rim way too much in the first half and we certainly discussed that during the break. Once we started sliding to help, we did a much better job.”
Just as he had the second quarter, Arey began the third with another three ball and combined with a three-point play from Robinson on the next possession, the Indians moved to a 15-point lead, only to see the Cats score the game’s next seven, including a three-pointer from sharpshooter Tanner Kimbler. Again, though, the Indians crashed the glass and got put backs from Robinson and Arey to extend the lead back to double digits, where it stayed for the remainder of the contest.
In the final minutes of the third period, Browning hit a perfect four for four from the foul line and the Tribe was sitting firmly in the district driver’s seat with a 57-41 advantage.
It is safe to say that Peebles put the hammer down in the fourth quarter as the Indians scored the first nine times they had the ball on offense, all in the midst of their stall game to milk the clock. Highlighted by a perfect lob pass from Browning for a Hawes layup, the Indians could not be stopped on their way to cutting down the nets. An offensive set up that put Conner Browning a the high post,resulted in three passes from Browning to Hawes for easy baseline scores and a pair of Arey free throws with 1:28 to play closed out the scoring for the Indians and sent them on to the regional tournament with the 75-56 triumph.
“We were prepared for the scrambling defense they came out with, and putting Conner at the high post worked out perfectly,” said Coach Arey. “Blake was huge in the fourth quarter and the whole game on both ends. As our bigs have gotten better, our team has gotten better.”
In the win, the Indians placed four starters in double figures, led by the aforementioned 24 from Browning and 23 from Arey, with Browning going 9 for 10 from the foul line and Arey hitting all four of his attempts from the stripe. Bostin Robinson added 12 points with teammate Blake Hawes scoring 10. Peebles dominated on the boards all day, hauling down 48 rebounds, 21 of those of the offensive variety. The Indians also shared the ball in their usual fashion, accumulating 17 assists on 28 baskets and only turning the ball over six times, while scoring 44 points in the paint.
“It feels pretty good, a good team win,” said the senior Robinson after the game. “We knew we could crash the boards against them and though we allowed some easy baskets in the first half, we made the adjustments we needed to. Any time you can rebound the ball two or three times a possession you are in good shape.”
“This feels good, very few Peebles teams have accomplished this,” said Tanner Arey in the postgame locker room. “We knew the middle of their defense would be open and we took advantage of that. Our length definitely helped us today. We’re here for a reason, we believe, and we are playing our best basketball right now.”
The Bobcats, who will return the core of their squad next season, were paced in scoring by 14 points from Kimbler, with Gage Sampson adding 12 and Zach Huffman 11.
Next up for the Indians (20-5) was a Tuesday night trip back to the Convo, where they will face the 19-5 Coal Grove Hornets in a regional semi-final match up. The winner of that game will be just one step away from the Final Four in Columbus.
(The results of Tuesday night’s game was not available at press time. Look for a full report in the upcoming weekend edition of The People’s Defender.)
13 17 11 15 –56
22 19 16 18 –75
Green (56): Blizzard 2 0-0 4, Sampson 5 1-2 12, Kimbler 4 4-4 14, E. Huffman 2 0-0 4, Maynard 1 0-0 3, Z. Huffman 5 1-2 11, Carver 4 0-2 8, Team 23 6-10 56.
Peebles (75): C. Browning 1 0-0 2, Arey 8 4-4 23, Robinson 5 2-4 12, Hawes 5 0-0 10, Smalley 2 0-0 4, W. Browning 7 9-10 24, Team 28 15-18 75.
Green (4): Sampson 1, Kimbler 2, Maynard
Peebles (4): Arey 3, W. Browning 1