NEW BOSTON — Once again, Green senior standout Levi Sampson scored well below his 25 points per game average.
But once again, the Bobcats got a key Southern Ohio Conference Division I victory —and gained ground even in the division championship chase —on Tuesday night.
In fact, the Bobcats —believed to be for the first time since the 2018-19 campaign and at the beginning of New Boston’s boys basketball revival —won inside the Tigers’ den of Homer Pellegrinon Gymnasium, as they never trailed in a 49-40 wire-to-wire win.
The Tigers thrice tied the game in the final 10 minutes —at 30-30, 32-32 and 37-37 —but never led once, and Green actually outscored Glenwood 6-0 over the final 75 seconds.
Levi Blevins’ runout layup to beat the buzzer, off an Abe McBee assist, boasted the final score to 49-40 —and for the Bobcats’ largest lead all night.
With the win, the Bobcats completed the first half of the SOC I’s double round-robin play a perfect 7-0 —part of 10-3 all told.
But that wasn’t all on Tuesday night, as Green gain great news for itself in regards to the league’s championship race —as Bobcats are now at least two games up on everyone in the loss column, following Notre Dame’s (4-2 SOC I) defeat (53-52) against Ironton St. Joseph (4-2 SOC I).
The Bobcats, which hosted Western for Friday night, lead by two games over the Indians, Ironton St. Joseph and Notre Dame.
However, winning at New Boston isn’t easy —and so the Bobcats cleared a major hurdle for themselves.
The Bobcats didn’t shoot the ball as well as they did against Notre Dame, but their defense once again won the day —per first-year head coach J.D. King.
In their past three games, the Bobcats have now defeated Ironton St. Joseph (44), Notre Dame (43) and now New Boston (40) —never allowing any more than 44 points.
“We’ve talked a lot with these guys about good defense, and good defense carrying you. When other things maybe aren’t going great. You need that on the road and in tough environments like this,” said King. “I’m super proud of our defensive effort. To come here and hold these guys to 40 points, two of the quarters we held them to single digits. First quarter was six and last quarter was eight. That’s a good start and good finish defensively. Our guys are really buying in on that end.”
King commented specifically on senior Gabe McBee, taking the assignment of defending New Boston senior and the Tigers’ top player Myles Beasley.
“I can’t say enough Gabe McBee. All year, we’ve put him on other teams’ best scorers, he’s been phenomenal,” said the coach. “He’s ran through the gamut. I don’t think anybody we’ve put him on have had double figures.”
All Beasley managed was a first-quarter two and a fourth-quarter three, the latter of which tied the game at 37-37 with 5:25 remaining.
But the Bobcats outscored the Tigers 12-3 the rest of the way —with New Boston’s basket coming via way of a winged three-pointer from Devin Maynard exactly four minutes and 10 tics later.
And, for the second consecutive contest, the six-foot and four-inch senior Sampson scored barely into double digits —but definitely no worries.
Sampson scored 13 in the Bobcats’ win over Notre Dame, then tallied 10 Tuesday night —on four first-half field goals and 2-of-2 third-quarter free throws.
But balance buoyed the Bobcats yet again, spearheaded by 15 points from Abe McBee —on six buckets and 3-of-4 free throws.
Levi Blevins bagged five field goals towards 11 points, including a corner-pocket three-pointer with time winding down in the first canto for a 13-6 advantage.
Sampson scored his 10, Abe McBee buried seven second-half points including 5-of-6 free throws, and freshman Jon Knapp nailed a corner triple to break the 32-32 tie by the end of the third frame.
Knapp meshed 3-of-4 second-half freebies as well, giving Green a 13-of-16 performance from the charity stripe.
King said his squad “wasn’t sharp offensively”, but “we were great from the free-throw line” — and the Bobcats did get those late timely scores and stops.
“After the last couple of games shooting poorly from the foul line, we couldn’t afford that tonight. So we were good there,” he said. “Part of putting together a championship run you hope is that you need timely plays. Timely baskets, timely stops, and we got a lot of both of those tonight.”
Both teams scored 13 third-quarter points after the Tigers won the second stanza 13-9, but the Tigers trailed at every turn —including 22-19 at halftime.
Then, down the stretch, New Boston —trailing 43-40 with only a minute and 15 seconds —never scored again, beset by missed shots and untimely turnovers throughout the majority of the fourth-quarter crunch time.
Instead, Abe McBee bucketed both of a one-and-one free-throw situation with a minute and six tics to go, then made a steal and layup with 24 seconds for the 47-40 lead.
He then assisted on Blevins’ basket for the final score.
For New Boston and sixth-year head coach Adam Cox, it’s once again “the little things” which separate winning and losing.
“If you would have said we were going to hold Sampson to 10 points, and him not score in the fourth quarter of a one-possession game, I would say we would probably win. Our kids rose up and followed the gameplan, and we stuck with it. I thought we had a great gameplan, but unfortunately again it’s those little things,” said Cox. “We can not win games until we rebound the basketball efficiently, until we stop giving up inside position, until we limit our turnovers, especially when we’re really not pressured. Missed free throws, missed layups, didn’t execute well down the retch, flat-footed on defense on a couple of possessions cost us. We had the ball numerous times inside and we didn’t make shots.”
Cox commented as well the Bobcats’ boxing in on Beasley —and the need to value each and every offensive possession.
“We couldn’t get Myles going tonight,” he said. “They face-guarded him and played good defense on him. When he did get good looks, I thought he was rushing his shot from not getting looks. A couple of shots that he took normally go in but didn’t today. We had a chance to win with Myles not playing well. That’s where all the little things we talk about all the time we have to do right. We were down a possession with a minute and 15 to a team that’s 7-0 in the league. I thought that if we could get the lead, we would get that momentum. We were tied three times. I counted nine possessions we had where we were either tied or down two or less. We’re in a one-possession game, so we need to realize that EVERY possession matters.”
Freshman point guard Tyreke Lewis paced the Tigers with 11 points —often knifing through the lane for two-point baskets, combined with a second-quarter three-pointer.
But no other Tiger reached double figures —as two Tigers had six, three finished with five, and Mark Rivers recorded 2-of-2 second-quarter foul shots.
Five Tigers each accounted for a three-point make.
The loss left the Tigers at an even 6-6, and below .500 in the SOC I at 3-4 —with unfortunately for them four losses in a row.
“We’re 12 games in. I can’t emphasize enough what all these little things mean to you, and what you have to do to be able to pull through and win those games,” said Cox.
Which, conversely for the Bobcats, they are doing —even again when Sampson scores well below his 25 points per game.
“Usually, Levi (Sampson) leads us in scoring, and it’s not close. Tonight he had 10, but we had a lot of balance. Five of our six main contributors are right there, all contributing scoring,” said King. “I can’t say enough about our defense, we stressed rebounding tonight and we did a pretty good job there. We knew this stretch of the schedule was going to be tough, possibly makes or breaks us being in contention for the league championship. We’re in the driver’s seat and we’ve earned that, but we’re not going to stop working. We’re getting everybody’s best shot right now.”
* * *
Green 13 9 13 14 —49
New Boston 6 13 13 8 — 40
GREEN 49 (10-3, 7-0 SOC I)
Levi Blevins 5 0-0 11, Levi Sampson 4 2-2 10, Jon Knapp 1 3-4 6, Abe McBee 6 3-4 15, Levi Waddell 0 0-0 0, Gabe McBee 1 5-6 7; TOTALS 17 13-16 49; Three-point field goals: 2 (Levi Blevins and Jon Knapp 1 apiece)
NEW BOSTON 40 (6-6, 3-4 SOC I)
Devin Allard 2 0-0 5, Devin Maynard 2 1-2 6, Tyreke Lewis 5 0-0 11, Myles Beasley 2 0-0 5, Luke Henson 0 0-0 0, Jacob Cahill 3 0-0 6, Mark Rivers 0 2-2 2, Dalton Jackson 2 0-0 5; TOTALS 16 3-4 40; Three-point field goals: 5 (Devin Allard, Devin Maynard, Tyreke Lewis, Myles Beasley and Dalton Jackson 1 apiece)