Falcons hold on against Jeeps


Minford junior Bennett Kayser (41) battles South Webster junior Eli Roberts (1) for a rebound during last Tuesday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division III boys basketball game at Minford High School.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

MINFORD — While indeed the Minford Falcons, as it turned out needed every point it earned against the visiting South Webster Jeeps, whom necessarily needs twos — when you can score via ones and threes?

That’s because junior Myles Montgomery meshed 11-of-14 free throws, the Falcons found the range from three-point territory seven times, and Minford maintained the wire-to-wire lead last Tuesday night —edging the Jeeps 58-55 in a key Southern Ohio Conference Division III clash inside the Falcons’ Nest.

That’s correct, the Falcons never trailed —even thrice holding dozen-point advantages of 23-11, 25-13 and 27-15 in the second stanza.

But South Webster would rally, not once but three times to be exact, including cutting those 12-point deficits down in half (29-23) at halftime.

In fact, the Jeeps got as close as 35-34 with two minutes and 26 seconds left in the third quarter —the closest they came since a 3-2 deficit in the opening minute and 38 tics.

However, depending on your winter perspective, it was like a bumpy for South Webster —or often times smooth for Minford — sleigh ride all game.

Over the next eight minutes, the Falcons forged another double-digit lead with 2:33 remaining — 53-43 to be precise —before an interesting ending in the final 1:52 to say the least.

More on that momentarily, as the experienced and talented Falcons raised their record to 9-1 —and to 2-0 in the brand-spanking new SOC III.

Minford’s lone loss you ask?

Against Division I New Albany on Dec. 9 in the Battle of The 740 at Shawnee State University.

The Jeeps, as first-year SWHS but longtime and legendary head coach Norm Persin missed his second consecutive contest due to hospitalization from illness, fell to 9-2 —and to 0-2 in the SOC III, with a 71-61 home loss against Wheelersburg preceding the Minford defeat.

Persin missed that game as well, as the 2009 Division IV state championship head coach with Oak Hill needs just 13 wins (787 current) to reach the milestone 800 all-time.

For the Falcons, which vanquished Valley 63-50 in its SOC III opener, there were some two-point goals — 12-of-29 for 41-percent to be precise.

But in likely a more unconventional way of winning, the Falcons made 13 free throws —with Montgomery making 11.

Then there was fellow junior and six-foot and four-inch Jackson Shoemaker —stepping out and stepping up by splashing four of seven three-point shots he took.

Then there was the defensive effort, which limited the Jeeps to 32-percent shooting on 18-of-56, including 29-percent (11-of-38) from inside the three-point line.

In fact, “that is where” veteran Minford head coach Josh Shoemaker said “we won the game”.

Bennett Kayser, the six-foot and five-inch Minford junior big man, kept the Jeeps’ junior standout —the six-foot and seven-inch Eli Roberts —at bay, and pulled down a double-double 10 rebounds.

Roberts, a prolific scorer, had just 14 points —on 3-of-13 shooting that included only 2-of-9 from inside the arc.

“It was a gritty win,” said the coach. “Every time we tried to throw the knockout punch, South Webster just kept clawing back and fighting back. We knew Eli Roberts was scoring a lot of points coming in, but Bennett (Kayser) just focused on trying to contain him. I thought Bennett guarded him as best as he possibly could. Going into the fourth quarter, Eli had six points. He made only one shot before then. So proud of Bennett and the defensive effort that he gave us tonight.”

Although, Kayser committed a foul on Roberts which jump-started an eventful final two minutes — in which the Jeeps went on a 12-5 finishing kick, and almost came back and stole the victory.

With 1:52 left, Roberts was fouled on a three-point attempt — over 25-feet from the basket in fact — and made all three foul shots.

Roberts then swished his only three-pointer with 38 seconds left, making it 53-49.

With the Jeeps forced to foul to extend the game and time, they did so on Montgomery —who first split a pair of freebies with 26 seconds showing, for a 54-49 edge.

South Webster senior Tyler Sommer made his fourth three-pointer in response, off the wing with 18 seconds left, but on the inbound attempt Montgomery got fouled again —this time away from the basketball.

This time, Montgomery made both for a 56-52 cushion —and the Jeeps’ next possession resulted in a bad pass out of bounds for a turnover.

Finally, Montgomery was fouled once more with 5.3 seconds to play —securing the triumph this time with two more charity tosses.

Sommer made the final score 58-55 —burying a buzzing-beating half-court heave.

For the 5-10 and scoring machine Montgomery, the reigning Southeast District Division III Player of the Year (per Ohio Prep Sports Writers Association), he did struggle shooting from the field —making only 4-of-14, including only a first-quarter three on eight total attempts.

Minford junior Myles Montgomery (10) saves possession of the ball as South Webster’s Hunter Barnard battles him during last Tuesday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division III boys basketball game at Minford High School.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

And, that was with only 1:55 elapsed — for a non-descript 6-2 score.

He then had two-point goals in each of the following three frames.

But he still grabbed eight rebounds including seven defensive, dished out seven of the Falcons’ 13 assists, and made both of Minford’s two steals.

Most importantly, he bookended the opening and closing cantos with 5-of-6 free throws apiece —plus a split of third-quarter attempts.

In all, he still spearheaded all scorers with 20 total points.

“I still thought everybody stepped up for us tonight and made big plays, especially at the end of the game,” said Coach Shoemaker. “Myles didn’t have his greatest shooting game, because he’s giving so much energy to everything all over the floor. At the big time, when he has to step up in the fourth quarter, he wanted the ball in his hands and he gripped down and found that extra energy.”

The highly-touted Jeeps, just about, found that extra gear in staging a couple of comebacks —in front of a full house inside the Falcons’ Nest, and against a solid state-ranked Minford squad.

Persin’s top assistant, former SWHS head coach Ryan Fenton, was once again the acting mentor last Tuesday night.

Minford’s last loss at home came two years ago to the Jeeps —when Fenton was an assistant to Brenton Cole, and Roberts was a standout freshman.

Fenton thought that if his Jeeps could ever gain the lead, then the outcome could’ve quite possibly been different.

“I think we were definitely wearing them down, but the problem was digging such a big hole for ourselves so early. And a lot of that hole was from defensive miscommunication,” he said. “We knew exactly what they were trying to do, and we were sagging back on the shooters and giving them open shots. After they hit one, we were sagging back again. We were having to burn some timeouts to even talk about those things, we know better. If a guy hits a shot, you have to crowd him more. You can’t keep giving him those shots. We did a lot of good things, but at the end of the day, we dug ourselves too big of a hole. We missed seven free throws in a close game, combine that with those defensive miscues and missed assignments, that’s how you lose ballgames. It’s an old cliche thing, but it’s true.”

Jackson Shoemaker was actually the prime shooter for the Falcons —four three-pointers all told from the top of the key.

He hit his first on the game’s opening possession, his next two came consecutive in the second quarter to turn a 17-11 lead into 23-11, and finally his third made it 38-34 —and kept the Jeeps from seriously taking the lead at that juncture.

Shoemaker, with 14 points and eight rebounds including six defensive, tied Kayser in points —who had six field goals and a pair of first-frame free throws.

“We let him (Shoemaker) get free, and they do a good job of screen-to-screener action. Whether it be a ballscreen or a downscreen, they are going to screen for him,” said Fenton. “It’s a lot of movement. You’re trying to make your bigs jump at Myles (Montgomery) and your guards jump at Shoemaker. When we actually made our adjustments, we did a really good job on it. We just did it a little too late.”

Coach Shoemaker made mention of his son’s shooting exhibition against the Jeeps.

“When Jack is out there, it stretches the defense out,” he said. “So when their center has to come out and guard him, it just gives everybody else more room to operate. That’s key, and he was feeling it tonight.”

Jeffrey Pica popped a pair of second-half triples as well —both times to make it a double-digit lead (35-25 and 47-36) — en route to eight points.

The other Minford senior —Troy Rhodes —rounded out the club’s scoring with a fourth-quarter basket.

Kayser converted a couple of quarter-end buzzer-beaters of his own —in the middle two periods to be exact — ultimately offsetting Sommer’s shot at the end.

South Webster senior Tyler Sommer (14) goes up for a basket against Minford junior Bennett Kayser (41) during last Tuesday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division III boys basketball game at Minford High School.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

His five three-pointers on 10 attempts, along with a second-stanza two and 2-of-4 free throws, netted him a team-high 19 points — as Roberts’ double-double was of 14 (points) and 12 (rebounds).

Jack Timothy, on four field goals and a split of second-quarter foul shots, notched nine in the first half —to supplement six boards.

Afterward, as Fenton reflected upon, it was the little details that all added up to a league loss.

South Webster junior Dylan Shupert (3) goes up for a basket as Minford senior Troy Rhodes defends during last Tuesday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division III boys basketball game at Minford High School.

Ed Litteral | Daily Times

“Just a bunch of little things. I’m really not into rah-rah after a loss, because I’m interested in what we did wrong and how can we fix that for the next game,” he said. “We gave up two buzzer-beaters to Kayser, four points which were not greatly contested. We left seven points out on the free-throw line, and probably two or three more possessions where we miss box outs. That’s 17 points right there where we just gave them. Those are the things we have to clean up. We know what we need to do, sometimes we’re just not executing and doing them. So it has to be better.”

On this night, the Falcons found enough points —via ones or threes or even defensive stops —to emerge on top.

“Just a great team effort. I thought Coach Fenton, who was put in a tough spot, absolutely had them (Jeeps) prepared tonight. We knew they were going to bring it to us and they absolutely did. Just a great game between Minford and South Webster and hopefully, we can use this and focus on ways to continue getting better,” said Coach Shoemaker. “We took their best shot, and luckily we were able to pull it out by three.”

* * *

South Webster 11 12 13 19— 55

Minford 15 14 11 18 – 58


Eli Roberts 3 7-9 14, Christian White 0 0-0 0, Dylan Shupert 3 0-1 7, Owen Mault 1 0-0 2, Hunter Barnard 1 2-3 4, Brock Campbell 0 0-0 0, Jack Timothy 4 1-2 9, Tyler Sommer 6 2-4 19; TOTALS 18 12-19 55; Three-point goals: 7 (Tyler Sommer 5, Eli Roberts and Dylan Shupert 1 apiece)

MINFORD 58 (9-1, 2-0 SOC III)

Troy Rhodes 1 0-0 2, Kade Glockner 0 0-0 0, Myles Montgomery 4 11-14 20, Jeffrey Pica 3 0-1 8, Jackson Shoemaker 5 0-2 14, Bennett Kayser 6 2-6 14; TOTALS 19 13-23 58; Three-point goals: 7 (Jackson Shoemaker 4, Jeffrey Pica 2, Myles Montgomery 1)

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on X @paulboggssports © 2024 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

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