By BOB STRICKLEY
PDT Sports Editor
ATHENS — After an ugly start to Tuesday’s Division IV Southeast District Semifinal, No. 2 South Webster rolled to a 70-48 win over No. 6 Symmes Valley and reached a career milestone along the way.
“I was satisfied with the win and overall effort but we have a lot of things to get corrected,” South Webster coach Steven Ater said.
The first six minutes of the opening quarter was the Levi Cook (26 points and three assists) show as he scored seven points for the Jeeps. A 3-pointer and a duece from teammate Seth Goddard (Seven points and five rebounds) helped South Webster to a 13-9 lead entering the second stanza.
Austin Baldin (Eight points and six rebounds) led Symmes Valley with three points in the first quarter.
After being shut out for almost nine minutes, South Webster’s Austin Loop (17 points, 11 rebounds, two assists and two steals) broke his silence with a duece with 6:50 left in the second quarter. The layup put him four points away from 1,000 in his career at South Webster.
After a pair of free throws, Loop found himself at the free throw line again only two points away from the career achievement. The senior sunk both with 5:22 in the second quarter to reach 1,000. It was a fitting way to reach the milestone as the senior was a perfect 8-for-8 from the charity stripe.
“Austin started getting around the basket and getting to the free throw line and that helped get him started,” Ater said.
Loop’s eight secound-quarter points were enough to match Cook’s output for the period.
D.J. Miller (18 points) led Symmes Valley with seven points in the second quarter but the Jeeps stretched their intermission lead to 10 points at 35-25.
South Webster shot 41 percent from the field before the break while Symmes Valley kept the game close with an impressive 55 percent from the floor. The difference in the half was turnovers, with the Vikings committing nine and the Jeeps losing only one.
“We played poorly defensively and missed some rotations and things that we said they would do,” Ater said. “For whatever reason it wasn’t our night defensively and if we do that Saturday we will be in trouble.”
D.J. Miller led Symmes Valley with nine points in the first half while Cook had 16 for South Webster.
“Levi made some shots early for us and for a sophomore playing his first game here it was a pretty good performance and I hope it continues,” Ater said.
The Jeeps came out of the locker room and stretched their lead to 44-28. Loop started South Webster off strongly with a 3-pointer and fellow senior David Sutton (14 points and eight rebounds) matched his third stanza scoring with five points.
A pair of driving layups from Symmes Valley junior Alec Herrell (Eight points) gave him the Vikings’ scoring lead in the third but the Vikings were outscored by the Jeeps 14-11 making the score entering the fourth 49-36.
An alley-oop from Cook to Sutton opened the fourth quarter emphatically. With the score standing at 57-45, Cook streched the lead to 15 with a 3-point play with 2:25 to play.
“Over the long run, they had too much size and too much athleticism,” Symmes Valley coach Jerome Fuller said.
Despite the big lead, the Jeeps struggled protecting the ball and had eight turnovers in the second half.
“We had a lot of points in transition tonight but we turned it over and got a little sloppy late in the game,” Ater said. “Some of that was trying to leak out and get easy baskets.”
With a little over a minute remaining in the game, Loop’s intentional high miss off the backboard was slammed in by a following Sutton to make it 66-48 and put a bow on the Jeeps’ Semifinal.
With reserves manning the floor, South Webster cruised to a 70-48 finish and the Div. IV Southeast District Final where they will be facing a Manchester team that was responsible for their postseason departure a season ago.
The Jeeps finished the game shooting 50 percent while the Vikings finished at the same number.
The statistical difference in the game was free throw shooting. Symmes Valley only hit five of their 14 attempts from the line while South Webster connected on 22 of their 26 attempts.
Cook’s performance was a good sign for the Jeeps.
“He was phenomenal,” Ater said. “He did a great job running the floor and hitting his free throws.”
More encouraging was the balanced offensive attack South Webster continued to show with three players finishing in double figures.
“We have to have that,” Ater said. “If you have just one guy, that can be taken away from you but if you have two, three, four options to pick from it makes it more difficult to defend. That will be our problem with Manchester because they really have five guys on the floor that can do something to hurt you.”
Symmes Valley graduates one senior in Tyler Wilson.
Bob Strickley may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 203, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Symmes Valley - Herrell 4-0-8, Miller 6-1-18, Baldwin 3-2-8, Rowe 4-1-9, Corn 2-0-4, Conley 0-1-1, Totals 19-5-48
South Webster - Loop 4-8-17, Swords 1-0-2, Sutton 6-2-14, Goddard 3-0-7, Cook 7-9-26, Salisbury 1-0-2, Ruark 0-2-2, Totals 22-21-70
3-pointers: Symmes Valley 5 (Miller 5), South Webster 5 (Cook 4, Loop 1, Goddard 1)