LUCASVILLE — The Wheelersburg Pirates weren’t in the business of panicking following a less than stellar first-half performance in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II road game versus the Valley Indians on Tuesday night.
Valley took a 30-20 lead at halftime after using a 22-0 run to take as much as a 15-point lead over ‘Burg, and still the Pirates managed a comeback win.
In the second half, the Pirates outscored the Indians 41-24 — turning their double-digit deficit at the break into a 61-54 road victory.
‘Burg coach Alex Prater credited his player’s resolve and coaching staff for their execution in the win.
“We had such a poor first half. At halftime we just said we have to get back to being who we are. Very proud of the kids, there was no panic in the locker room,” Prater said. “It was, ‘What do we need to fix? What adjustments do we need to make?’. Proud of our coaching staff — Derek Lewis got us in situations offensively to be successful in the second half, Dirk Hollar and Jared Alley with the situational stuff really helped us.”
Trailing 41-39 entering the fourth quarter, Wheelersburg saw four of its seniors score all of their points in the final eight minutes.
The first two Pirate buckets in the fourth — a pair of three-pointers by Nolan Wright — gave them their first lead at 45-41 since it was 7-6 in the early stages.
Wright led all scorers with a game-high 18 points, sinking four three-pointers as part of seven total field goals.
Jackson Schwamburger was lights out at the foul line, going eight-of-eight in the fourth quarter as part of his 15-point outing.
“No panic. We knew we were right there with them in the first game,” Wright said. “Just knew we had to get more physical on the defensive end, get more pressure and get out in transition. We did that, got some stops on defense and hit some big shots to close it out.”
“No panic in our mind. We knew we didn’t play a good first half, down 10 at halftime,” Schwamburger said. “We went into the locker room and knew if we got stops on defense and came down and hit our shots we’d be alright.”
Connor Estep scored six points in the final frame, while Zavier Stanley added a layup for the Pirates in the fourth.
“Big time players make big time plays in big games,” Prater said, of his seniors. “Nolan has a knack for hitting big shots for us, very happy for him tonight. Jackson to close it out at the line going eight-for-eight is phenomenal. Reflects the hard work these two young men have put in.”
Valley was led by seniors George Arnett and Colt Buckle, who both finished with 16 points.
Jace Copley added 14 points and Levi Stewart eight to round out the Indians’ scoring.
Wheelersburg (15-5, 11-3 SOC II) rounds out its regular season with home games versus Minford and Northwest.
“Big game on Friday with Minford coming to our place. They got an overtime win with them at their place, felt like one got away. Excited for that challenge. That’s another step to help prepare us for the tournament. We’re really excited about our group right now. I just told them in the locker room it’s the most unselfish group I’ve ever coached. It doesn’t matter who’s getting shots or whose getting minutes, it’s 15 guys happy for each other.”
Valley (15-6, 10-5 SOC II) will host Waverly in its Senior Night game this Friday night (Feb. 10).
Wheelersburg 7 13 19 22 — 61
Valley 15 15 11 13 — 54
Wheelersburg (15-5, 11-3 SOC II): Braylon Rucker 2 3-8 8, Connor Estep 2 2-4 6, Xander Mowery 0 0-0 0, Nolan Wright 7 0-0 18, Kenyon Evans 0 0-0 0, Jackson Schwamburger 2 10-10 15, Caleb Arthur 4 1-4 9, Kaden Johnson 0 0-0 0, Zavier Stanley 2 1-1 5; TOTALS: 19 17-27 61; Three-point field goals: 6 (Nolan Wright 4, Braylon Rucker and Jackson Schwamburger 1 apiece)
Valley (15-6, 10-5 SOC II): George Arnett 6 0-0 16, Hunter Edwards 0 0-0 0, Colt Buckle 6 4-5 16, Parker Lute 0 0-0 0, Carter Nickel 0 0-0 0, Jace Copley 4 4-6 14, Levi Stewart 3 2-3 8; TOTALS: 19 10-14 54; Three-point field goals: 6 (George Arnett 4, Jace Copley 2)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 370-0713 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2023 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved