WHEELERSBURG — The Wheelersburg Pirates led throughout much of Friday night’s SOC II home contest versus South Webster, but they needed a heroic play on the game’s second-to-last possession to ultimately secure the victory.
After a go-ahead three-point attempt by senior Jackson Schwamburger was off the mark, fellow senior Kaden Johnson was waiting patiently for his opportunity.
Johnson rebounded the miss and put the ball on the glass, and into the basket all in one motion — giving ‘Burg a 50-48 lead with 1.2 seconds remaining.
Needing to go the length of the court for a game-winning attempt of their own, the Jeeps had a turnover on their inbound attempt following Johnson’s bucket, giving the Pirates back the ball to secure the two-point win (50-48) in SOC II play.
Wheelersburg coach Alex Prater praised Johnson’s work ethic and practicing what his coaching staff preaches on its final offensive possession.
“Kaden has done an unbelievable job of working his way back, coming off an ACL injury last year. The kid does everything right, works his tail off,” Prater said, after the game. “We work a lot on being in offensive rebounding positions. Kaden attacks the ball, goes back up and gets it — huge play for us. Great play for him and working to be in a position to help the team be successful.”
On the other end of it, SW coach Brenton Cole discussed with his team their defensive mindset heading into that possession.
“The last play there was kind of a scramble play. Before that possession, we told them this has got to be your best defensive possession of the game and maybe the season,” Cole said. “We wanted to make it a tough shot which we did, but also secure the rebound and try and get the timeout because we had one left.”
Johnson finished with 10 points on four field goals and a pair of free throws.
When asked about the play, Johnson discussed it, but also made sure to give his teammates some of the spotlight.
“I was just on the backside, watching Jackson as he shot it. I went up and got it off before I came down to get it off in time,” Johnson said. “Really it doesn’t come down to that last shot, it comes down to our teammates. Jackson, Nolan, Connor hitting shots, Caleb and Zavier working in the paint. It’s a family and we’ve got to work together.”
The Pirates led by as many as 11 points in the first half and seven points in the fourth quarter.
South Webster took their first lead of the game at 35-34 with 7:45 left in the fourth on a basket by senior Will Collins.
Collins made a three and converted an and-one to tie the game at 48-all — after the Jeeps trailed by six with 2:40 to play.
“A few of their rotations left Will open and he knocked down some shots for us,”Cole said. “Eli, when no one’s wanting to score the ball, he’s a scorer. He hit a couple threes to keep us in the ball game.”
South Webster sophomore Eli Roberts led all scorers with a game-high 21 points.
Roberts caught fire in the third period, scoring 11 of his 21 in the frame — as he sank three three-pointers to narrow the Pirate lead.
In the fourth, Collins scored scored 11 of the Jeeps’ 15 points.
The other four belonged to sophomore Dylan Shupert, who reached double figures with 11 points.
“We kept talking about that it was going to be a game of runs. South Webster’s a good team, they’re going to make plays and make runs,” Prater said. “To win the game, we were going to have to defend and rebound. Credit to the kids for sitting down on defense and executing.”
Wheelersburg was led in scoring by senior Caleb Arthur, who finished with 11 points.
Junior Connor Estep scored 10, as did Johnson.
Eight different Pirates made their way into the scoring column in a balanced offensive effort.
“Extremely unselfish group. We talk all the time that Wheelersburg basketball is a family, sacrificing for each other,” Prater said. “I thought our guys really did that tonight, whether it was offensively or defensively. They were willing to make the right play for the team.”
South Webster (2-1) hosted Jackson in a non-league game on Saturday night —and won 57-47.
On Tuesday, it’ll head to Lucasville to face Valley (1-1) in SOC II play.
“We’ve got to have a short memory — It doesn’t get any easier moving forward,” Cole said. “We have things to fix and stuff to take care of.”
Wheelersburg (2-0) faced off with Coal Grove in the Buckeye Elite Classic on Saturday night at Shawnee State University, and won 63-34.
“Coal Grove’s a good team with a good player. We’ll celebrate this one tonight, turn the page. We’re excited that we’re going to be in an adverse situation with an emotional win tonight and second night of a back to back. We feel like that’s a good thing to put our kids in those situations and see how we respond.”
South Webster 8 13 12 15 — 48
Wheelersburg 12 12 10 16 — 50
South Webster (2-1, 1-1 SOC II): Connor Bender 0 0-0 0, Christian White 0 0-0 0, Dylan Shupert 3 5-7 11, Owen Mault 0 1-2 1, Jaren Lower 0 0-0 0, Tyler Sommer 0 0-0 0, Eli Roberts 6 6-10 21, Will Collins 6 1-1 15; TOTALS: 15 13-20 48; Three-point field goals: 5 (Eli Roberts 3, Will Collins 2)
Wheelersburg (2-0, 2-0 SOC II): Braylon Rucker 2 0-0 4, Connor Estep 4 0-1 10, Xander Mowery 1 1-2 3, Nolan Wright 2 0-0 6, Luke Swords 0 0-0 0, Jackson Schwamburger 1 1-2 4, Caleb Arthur 5 1-3 11, Kaden Johnson 4 2-3 10, Zavier Stanley 0 2-6 2; TOTALS: 19 7-17 50; Three-point field goals: 5 (Connor Estep and Nolan Wright 2 apiece, Jackson Schwamburger 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved