ATHENS - It looked like it was finally going to happen.
For the first time since 1995, it appeared Minford was going to the district final. With three minutes to play in the Division III District Semifinal game between Minford and Huntington Ross, the score stood -Falcons 54, Huntsmen 51.
At that point, Minford had trailed for just the first 1:25 of the fourth quarter. From that point, the Falcons would score only once, losing 63-56 at the Convocation Center at Ohio University.
A Huntington 3 with 2:44 to play tied the score and a Minford turnover led to a layup by the Huntsmen's Cory Vickers to take the lead. After that, Minford was forced to foul to stop the clock and Huntington showed no mercy from the foul line. The Huntsmen were 6 of 7 from the line in the final 48 seconds to advance.
“Toward the end we just had some turnovers that hurt us,” said Falcons coach Kyle Copley. “It's been a great year for our seniors to be able to get back to the Convo. We wanted to get them (a win).”
Minford loses six seniors to graduation this year and three of them combined for 37 points and 17 rebounds. Kyle McGraw led that group with 18 points and 10 rebounds for his fifth double-double this season. Sean Childers scored 11 points with four rebounds and Gary Spradlin scored eight points in the loss. Sophomores Sean Smith and Evan Price scored eight and nine points respectively.
The game started off on a high for the underdog Falcons against the No. 2 seeded Huntsmen. Minford scored first on a McGraw 3 followed by a free throw. Childers added his own 3 to lead 7-2. Minford held the lead until the final score of the period.
In the second quarter, Huntington stayed on top but neither team developed a large lead. Huntington's largest lead of the game, six points, came during the second quarter, but Minford rallied back in the third, to trail by one heading into the deciding period.
Minford might have taken the lead in the third quarter had it not been for the Kelloughs. Josh and Justin Kellough, both juniors, led the Huntsmen all night. Josh scored 17 and Justin scored 18 points with seven rebounds.
It was the latter that kept the Huntsmen from getting behind, scoring seven straight points for Huntington in the closing seconds of the third quarter and into the early part of the fourth. Justin Kellough scored 11 of his points in the first half.
“We left him open there a couple of times in the first half,” said Copley. “If you leave a kid like that open, he's going to hurt you.”
This wasn't the first meeting between the schools this season. They met in Minford's 17th game of the season with the Huntsmen emerging victorious 73-61. This time around Copley said the Falcons scouted individual plays and tried to prevent the Huntsmen from running their sets.
Minford finishes the season at 11-11.
Huntington is now 17-4 and will play Wheelersburg at the Convo on Saturday.
JOHN STEGEMAN can be reached at email@example.com
Minford 19 11 14 12 - 56
Huntington Ross 20 14 9 20 - 63
Minford - McGraw 5 6 18, Smith 4 0 8, Childers 4 2 11, Reynolds 1 0 2, Price 3 2 9, Spradlin 3 2 8. Totals 20 12 56.
Huntington Ross - Sams 1 1 3, Jo. Kellough 5 6 17, Cottrill 5 0 10, Vickers 2 3 8, Trusty 1 0 2, Riley 1 2 4, Ju. Kellough 8 1 18. Totals 23 13 63.
3-pointers - Minford 4 (McGraw 2, Childers, Price); Huntington Ross 3 (Jo. Kellough, Vickers, Ju. Kellough).
Records - Minford 11-11; Huntington Ross 17-4.