WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg Pirates handed the defending SOC champion Minford Falcons their first conference loss of the year by a score of 55-46. Minford was behind all night and could never get in an offensive rhythm as the Pirates disrupted their shooters throughout the evening.
The first half was a defensive battle. Tanner Holden was in foul trouble much of the night for the Pirates and Brandon Rowe scored only two points before the break. To further Minford’s woes, Trey Kelly was held scoreless in the first half and managed only two points throughout the entire of the contest. Neither team shot the ball particularly well, but Wheelersburg did manage to get to the free throw line 27 times, while the Falcons only managed four shots from the charity strike.
Cameron Dalton was a rebounding machine for Minford early, as he netted them more than a few second chance opportunities. Despite that, Wheelersburg went into the break with a 21-16 lead over Minford.
Wheelersburg came out of the break and chose to go inside early and often. Kaden Coleman scored the first seven points of the third of the Pirates and Austin Lotspeich was a strong presence on both offense and defense. He would lead Wheelersburg in scoring with 19 and add in four blocks as well. Brandon Rowe came alive in the second half, scoring 25 of his 27 points.
Despite being down double digits with four minutes remaining, Minford managed to cut the lead to just four points after a Matthew Gullett three pointer. The deafening Wheelersburg gymnasium energized the Pirates though, and they finished the game on a 5-0 run for the final score of 55-46. After the game, Pirate Head Coach Steven Ater was very pleased with his team’s effort.
“I’m very proud of our kids,” said Ater. “Defensively we were phenomenal. They key to the game was that they only shot four free throws and we had 27 on the night. We kept them off the glass, especially later in the game, and we stayed in our stances. Rowe is a great player, he had 27, and tremendous players are going to score their points. But we did a really good job at defending their other guys. We gave them no easy baskets and they had to work for everything they got.”
“Minford is a great team. But I think we are showing that we can be pretty good, too. I think we are joining the discussion. Now we have to keep taking care of business. Austin Lotspeich and Kaden were great for us tonight. We have to play inside out. That doesn’t mean we are taking anything away from our guards. It means that if we play through our post players that it will open up driving lanes and perimeter shots. Kyle Davis is so good for us as well. His leadership, his shooting, his defense: that is what you want. We have to stay hungry and continue to get better every day as a team. Every game still matters.”
“Our community, our student section, and our fans were phenomenal tonight. This place was rocking and this is exactly what Wheelersburg basketball should be about. When you win it’s easier to get behind but I am so thankful to be part of this community and this school where you have this kind of support every night.”
Wheelersburg travels to Oak Hill to face the Oaks on Tuesday. Game time is 7:30. Minford will host the West Senators Tuesday, tipoff is also 7:30.
Wheelersburg 14 7 16 18 55
Minford 10 6 14 16 46
Wheelersburg: Lotspeich 19, Coleman 17, Davis 9, Bivens 5, Holden 3, Lewis 2
Minford: Rowe 27, Alley 6, Dalton 6, Gullett 5, Kelley 2
Reach Derrick Parker at firstname.lastname@example.org or on twitter @DC__Parker