By CODY LEIST
PDT Sports Writer
JACKSON — The theme of this year’s version of the Wheelersburg boys basketball team has been youth.
A year after a regional appearance, Pirates coach Tom Barrick said something was needed to help the confidence of his ballclub as they entered their Division III Southeast Sectional Semifinal at Jackson High School. That boost was an 8-for-10 performance from the floor in the first quarter, which helped No. 10 Wheelersburg to a 61-39 win over No. 7 Coal Grove.
“I thought it was huge because I really felt I didn’t know what I was going to get out of our kids early because almost every one of those kids have never been in a tournament,” Barrick said. “Very few of them had significant roles last year.”
Among some of the newcomers from a year ago has been Eddie Miller. The sophomore led all scorers with 20 points on 9-of-13 shooting from the floor. Three of Miller’s four rebounds came off rebounds, which led to putbacks.
The one thing that concerned Barrick took place in the third when the Hornets’ trap led to turnovers and forced shots. The Pirates watched their lead go from 20 early in the frame to 10 to start the fourth.
“We didn’t do a really good job of getting people in the right spots,” Barrick said. “That was our fault as coaches. We know what we should’ve done, the kids knew what they should’ve done.”
Barrick shrugged it off as as not having the experience in the environment and scenario. He said his team was able to respond in the fourth with a 22-point stanza.
But Barrick did admit those feelings have to be taken care of when Wheelersburg returns Saturday to Jackson for a rematch with No. 2 Portsmouth. The Trojans won the regional semifinal contest 45-39 last March and the meeting during the Christmas holiday 63-32.
“Portsmouth is obviously going to up the tempo and they’re going to try to do it for 32 minutes,” Barrick said.
Another thing the Pirates have to do is guard the perimeter. Coal Grove connected on eight 3-pointers in the game. Three of those came in the third.
Wheelersburg had three others reach double figures and six total figured into the scoring column. Coal Grove was led by Alex Bare with 14.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 242, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Wheelersburg 17 11 11 22 — 61
Coal Grove 7 5 17 10 — 39
Wheelersburg — E. Miller 9-0-20, Cowgill 2-2-6, Massie 5-0-13, Hood 0-2-2, D. Miller 5-0-10, Moore 4-2-10, Totals 25-6-61.
Coal Grove — Beals 3-0-9, Bare 6-0-14, Markins 3-0-8, Steele 3-0-7, Doyle 0-1-1, Totlas 15-1-39.
3-Point Goals — Wheelersburg 5 (Massie 3, E. Miller 2); Coal Grove 8 (Beals 3, Bare 2, Markins 2, Steele).
Records — Wheelersburg 8-13; Coal Grove 12-9.