PDT Sports Contributor
ATHENS – Cinderella stories are always great to follow in any sport.
Unfortunately for South Webster, their seven-game winning streak and their hopes at making a deeper postseason run ended Friday night as the eighth-seeded Jeeps fell by an 84-47 margin to the fourth-seeded Paint Valley Bearcats in a Division IV District Semifinal held at Ohio University’s Convocation Center in Athens Thursday evening.
It was a tough loss for South Webster coach Ryan Fenton, who said that he was hoping for a better outcome for his seniors (Tyler Fields, Denver Fuller, Levi Cook, Brody Queen and Dakota Yates).
The Jeeps were outrebounded 44-27 in the contest and were held to five field goals in the first half.
“… The keys to victory were boxing out and keeping the guards out of the paint, and we didn’t do either of those things tonight,” Fenton said.
However, Fenton said that he was proud of the leadership and the resiliency that his team showed throughout the season despite having to deal with adversity over the course of the campaign.
“I’m really proud of the seniors,” Fenton said. “They led us the whole season. We dug ourselves a big hole with injuries and losses, but we battled back from losing by 40 (points) to competing with teams that beat us by 40 and then shocked the region by winning seven games in a row, winning a sectional title and getting to the Convo.”
Fenton also added that the seniors taught the underclassmen about the importance of winning over individual play.
“… I’m proud of all of those things and I contribute all of that to the seniors for working hard, pushing these underclassmen and letting them know that winning matters and keeping everybody hungry. The seniors – Dakota Yates, Levi Cook, Tyler Fields, Brody Queen, and Denver Fuller – just led us the whole season. I’m unbelievably proud of them and I’m going to miss them. I hate to see them go out like this.”
Cook got the ball rolling for South Webster early as he scored the game’s opening bucket to start off the contest, and Shane Zimmerman followed that bucket up with a 3-point basket to put the Jeeps up by a 5-0 count with around two minutes gone in the first quarter of play.
However, Paint Valley would answer the bell with a deuce by Anthony McFadden and a trey by Clay Stratton to tie the score at five apiece.
Those buckets would light a fire under the Bearcats as Paint Valley went on a 29-4 run off of the two aforementioned baskets to take a 29-9 lead midway through the second quarter of play.
McFadden and Stratton proved to be thorns in South Webster’s side for the entire half as the guards would combine to hit all five of Paint Valley’s 3-point baskets in the half – and in the game – on their way to combining for 28 of Paint Valley’s 37 points in the first set of quarters.
Cook would try to keep South Webster in the contest as the senior scored nine points in the half to lead the Jeeps. However, no one else was able to get on track as Cook was the only player to hit more than one field goal in the half as the Bearcats opened up a 21-point advantage by the halftime break.
The second half featured McFadden and Mason McCloy as the players who would do the majority of the damage after the intermission as Paint Valley continued to build upon its lead.
The pair scored the first 10 points in the quarter for the Bearcats and eventually finished with 22 of Paint Valley’s 28 points in the frame to push the lead to a 65-29 margin by the end of the third quarter.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, Paint Valley had stretched the lead to a 78-35 tally as McCloy and McFadden would combine to score 11 of the Bearcats’ opening 12 points in the quarter before both teams began making mass substitutions prior to the game’s conclusion.
Overall, McFadden finished as the game’s high scorer with 31 points, while McCloy and Stratton would add 22 and 19 points, respectively.
Cook fittingly finished off his illustrious career at South Webster by scoring a team-high 26 points, with 17 of them coming in the second half of play.
South Webster 7 9 13 18 – 47
Paint Valley 16 21 28 19 – 84
South Webster – Fuller 0-1-1, Ruark 0-1-1, Cook 9-7-26, Zimmerman 1-0-3, Winters 2-0-4, Rawlins 1-0-2, Blevins 0-2-2, Queen 1-0-2, Hadinger 2-0-4, Yates 1-0-2, Totals 17-11-47.
Paint Valley – Archer 1-1-3, McFadden 11-7-31, Sparks 0-1-1, Crabtree 2-0-4, Draise 0-2-2, Williams 1-0-2, Stratton 8-0-19, McCloy 8-6-22, Totals 31-17-84.
3-Point Goals – South Webster 2 (Cook, Zimmerman); Paint Valley 5 (Stratton 3, McFadden 2).
Records – South Webster 11-13, Paint Valley 10-14.