Arey FT with 4.9 seconds left sends Peebles to Regional Finals –
By Mark Carpenter –
As of Wednesday morning, March 14, there were but eight Division IV boys basketball teams left standing in tournament play. The Peebles Indians are in that group. For the first time in 44 seasons, the Indians will be playing in the regional championship game, with that trip being earned with a heart-stopping 47-46 win on Tuesday night over the Coal Grove Hornets.
Tuesday’s game was a classic, one which will be discussed for a long time to come, as the Indians took a big lead over the Hornets, saw that disappear as they fell behind late in the game, then got a game-winning free throw with 4.9 seconds left, but only a winner after surviving a missed layup at the buzzer by the Hornets. No matter how it happened, the fact can’t be disputed, Coach Josh Arey and the Tribe are still alive and on Friday, march 16 will be back on the floor of “The Convo” looking for the first trip to the Final Four in school history.
“It’s very special,” said Peebles senior Bostin Robinson in the locker room after the thrilling win. “I saw the guy wide open on that last shot and I knew I had to get back and I got a finger on the shot. I fell like we match up with anyone if we just keep playing team ball.”
“I had confidence going into the game and it’s like anything else, the more you do it, the more relaxed you are,” said Coach Arey after the game. In a small twist of irony, Arey was born in 1974, the last time a Peebles team made it to the regional finals. “I thought our kids were relaxed, we’re not the underdog very often but we were tonight and our kids embraced it.”
The regional semi battle began on what could have been a very bad note for the Indians, as leading scorer Tanner Arey went to the bench with his second foul just 2:32 into the game, but his teammates stepped it up and filled the gap. A three-pointer by Robinson, a three-point play by Weston Browning, two Blake Smalley free throws, and a bucket at the horn by Blake Hawes all added up to 16-7 Peebles lead after one quarter of play.
“I can’t say enough about the job that Wade Shiveley did for us in that first quarter,” said Coach Arey. “He may not have scored a point but just to come in and help take care of the basketball and be solid defensively was huge for us. Even when we put Tanner back in, he had to be smart about what he was doing and he was able to get through the game with only those two fouls.”
The Indians extended their lead to 14 points early in the second period with Robinson hitting a triple from deep, Smalley banking one home from the elbow, and Colten Ball driving the lane through traffic for the left-handed score. The Hornets crashed the boards for consecutive put backs by Jed Jones and Aaron Music to creep closer, but a Robinson score in the final minute sent Peebles to the locker room still up by double digits at 25-15.
A 10-2 run by the Hornets in the third frame made a game of it, as Coal Grove sliced the Peebles lead down to just four at 29-25, but now back in the game and ready to go, Arey went on a personal 7-0 run, capped by a three-pointer that put his team up 36-25. A basket in the final seconds by the Hornets’ Jaylen McKenzie sent the two team into what would be a memorable final quarter with Peebles on top 36-27.
The Indians had the opportunity to really put a dagger into the Coal Grove hopes as the fourth quarter began but four missed free throws opened the door for a Hornets comeback. The talented Hornets began to chip away at the Peebles margin, using a 7-0 run to pull within 42-41 with 2:40 left in the game.
Weston Browning hit a pair from the charity stripe to push the lead back to three, but Sam Angelo hit the only Coal Grove three-pointer of the night (in 17 attempts) and the game was deadlocked at 44 with two minutes to play.
The Hornets had not led at any point in the contest but that changed when two free throws by Jones gave them a 46-44 advantage with 1:36 remaining.
The only Coal Grove lead of the night lasted a total of 14 seconds as Arey was fouled and calmly sank both attempts to tie the game at 46, setting up a finish that was not for the faint of heart, especially on the Peebles side.
With 50.5 seconds to play, the Indians made a defensive stop when Music was called for a charge and his fifth foul.
The Indians took over, spread the floor, and held for the last shot. With under 10 seconds to play, Arey had the ball on the right side of the court and made his move to the basket. As he went between two Hornet defenders for the shot, he was fouled by Angelo. The Peebles senior guard missed the first shot, but swished the second to give the Indians a one-point lead with 4.9 seconds left.
What happened next will long be remembered-for stopping the hearts of the Peebles faithful and breaking the hearts of the Coal Grove fans. After both teams used timeouts, the Hornets inbounded, needing to go the length of the court for a game-winner. The ball came into Angelo, who took about three dribbles and passed to a teammate streaking towards the rim, the final pass went to Cory Borders, who found himself wide open for a layup that could have sent his team to the finals, but Robinson raced back to get just enough of the shot to alter it, and the layup bounced wide of the rim, causing the Peebles fans to let out a collective sigh of relief and a jubilant celebration to break out on the floor as the Indians 47-46 victory moved them to the regional championship game.
“I wasn’t worried about Tanner hitting that second free throw,” said Coach Arey of his son’s game-winner. “If he makes it, we’re up one and if he doesn’t we still have a shot at overtime. The end was definitely a heart-stopping moment, Bostin got his hand on the shot just enough to alter the trajectory.”
“I thought our kids were very sound defensively tonight, our goal was to keep them out of the paint and plug the middle, and we were able to do that.”
With their exciting victory, the Indians will make the trip back to Athens on Friday night for a 7 p.m. match up with a team straight out of Ohio’s Amish country, the Berlin Hiland Hawks, who easily handled Fairfield Christian in the first game on Tuesday night.
“They are a very good, extremely well-coached team and we will have our hands full,” says Coach Arey. “But we are in the regional finals and anything can happen here.”
In the win over Coal Grove, Arey led the Indians, now 21-5 overall, in scoring with 18 points, 16 of those coming in the second half. Robinson scored 12, all in the first half, and hauled in 6 rebounds. Point guard Weston Browning again played all 32 minutes, scoring 7 points and going in among the tall timbers to grab 6 boards. Blake Smalley added 6 points while Blake Hawes pulled down a team-high 7 rebounds.
Coal Grove was paced by 16 points from Jed Jones and 14 from Sam Angelo.
7 8 12 19 –46
16 9 11 11 –47
Coal Grove (46): Jones 7 2-2 16, Angelo 6 1-2 14, Music 4 1-2 9, Harmon 1 0-0 2, McKenzie 2 1-2 5, Team 20 5-8 46.
Peebles (47): Hawes 1 0-2 2, Smalley 2 2-2 6, Arey 5 7-10 18, Robinson 5 0-0 12, W. Browning 1 5-7 7, Ball 1 0-0 2, Team 15 14-21 47.
Coal Grove (1): Angelo 1
Peebles (3): Arey 1, Robinson 2
(UPDATE: The Indians saw their season come to an end on Friday, March 16 with a 63-31 loss to Berlin Hiland in the Division IV regional championship game. For a complete report on that contest, go to maysville-online.com and read the game report from Jared MacDonald.)