The beautiful thing about the Southern Ohio Conference is getting to play conference members twice during the season.
This allows teams to get a second chance if they fall to a team earlier in the season, like the Green Bobcats did to the East Tartans on Dec. 15 by a score of 89-77.
Things changed in a major way for Green in the rematch on Friday night, as the Bobcats bested the Tartans 79-44 the second time around.
Bobcats junior Tanner Kimbler was on fire seemingly as soon as he set foot in the gym.
“I came in about an hour before the game and started shooting, and you just have those days when you come in the gym and just feel it,” Kimbler said after the game.
Kimbler scored a game-high 27 points to follow up a 32-point output the first time the teams met.
Franklin Furnace celebrated homecoming during the game, but the festivities weren’t a distraction once the action started.
“Before, yeah, with everybody here,” Kimbler said when asked if he was distracted by the events. “Escorting the girls and stuff, a little bit before. Once it started, you forget about everything and just go.”
On the court, Green knew they would have their hands full physicality wise with an East team that doesn’t shy away from aggressive play.
“You’ve just got to be tough, this is a physical team,” Bobcats sophomore Gage Sampson said. “They’re going to come at you 100 percent every play.”
Sampson also was a scoring threat for Green during the game, posting 22 points total.
As a team, the Bobcats bought in to playing tough to try and counter the Tartans and their physical play.
“You’ve just got to stand your ground, box out,” Green junior Tayte Carver said. “You’ve got to just own it.”
The Bobcats outrebounded East 20 to 12, and also forced 13 turnovers on the night in what was a stifling defensive effort.
“I thought that the pressure we put on them was key, keeping our hands up and getting our hands on passes to the inside,” Green head coach Dirk Hollar said. “We played defense.”
Even out of the gates, the Bobcats were playing near perfect on the floor.
Kimbler got things going early on with a three-pointer on the opening possession of the game.
East answered back with an and one from Brayden Queen, but after that point the Tartans would trail for the remainder of the contest.
Queen had 10 points for East overall.
As the first quarter transpired, Kimbler established the momentum for his team. Kimbler would score 12 of the team’s first 15 points with four made three-pointers.
After one, Green was already out in front by double-digits with a 24-12 lead.
In the second, the Tartans pulled closer with a 5-0 run after a Queen basket made the score 25-17 with 5:22 to play before the half.
From there, the Bobcats pounced with a 13-2 run the rest of the quarter to take a 38-19 halftime advantage.
“Tanner got going right off the start,” Hollar said. “I looked at Tony, my JV coach and said “Has he missed yet?” He said, “Nope, and he’s not going to.” After that, I wanted to run a couple sets to get Gage going with a couple buckets inside and we did that.”
Out of the locker room and back on the court, not much changed for either side. East continued to search for some offense, and Green continued to fire on all cylinders.
The Bobcats outscored the Tartans 29-17 in the third quarter to take a 67-36 lead after three.
J.D. Hatcher and Will Shope combined for 15 of East’s 17 points in the period. Shope finished with a team-high 12 points, and Hatcher had 10.
Despite the lift on offense from the Tartans, they were still well behind in the contest and too far back to mount a significant comeback.
As a result, Green kept up the pace and went on to win 79-44.
“We pushed the ball up the floor like crazy today,” Hollar said. “I think as soon as Tanner got the ball, he went up the sidelines and we were getting layups, kick outs, and everything. Offensively, we played great tonight.”
The win improved the Bobcats record to 9-7 overall and 5-5 in SOC play. Green’s game against Carter Christian on Saturday was cancelled, as members of Carter Christian’s team were unable to play due to the flu.
Next up for the Bobcats is a meeting with New Boston at home on Friday. Green fell on the road to the Tigers on December 19 by a score of 89-77.
“Adam Cox will have his kids ready, they’re playing absolutely amazing,” Hollar said. “So are we, and I’m already looking forward to Friday and I know Adam Cox is looking forward to Friday.”
East is now 3-8 overall with a 3-6 mark in the SOC I. On the schedule next for the Tartans is a trip to South Webster on Tuesday in what will be a big game for both schools moving forward in the season as each team prepares for tournament play.