Pirates fall in sectional finals

By Chris Slone - [email protected]

JACKSON, Ohio — The Wheelersburg Pirates fell to the South Point Pointers 70-63 in a Division III Sectional Final match Saturday night at Jackson High School.

Wheelersburg (17-6) was led by Kaden Coleman who recorded a double-double, scoring a game-high 27 points to go along with 11 rebounds.

“He’s done that so many times throughout his career but more so this year, he’s just put us on his back,” Pirates head coach Steven Ater said. “Talking about trying to replace something in your lineup, trying to replace him is next to impossible because they just don’t make many guys like him. He’s willing to just go and get the ball, and be so strong and physical. It’s so rare and unique … “

Tanner Holden also recorded a double-double, scoring 16 points and grabbing 11 boards. Cole Lowery sank five shots behind the arc to record 15 points.

Together, the trio of Coleman, Holden and Lowery scored 58 of the Pirates’ 63 points in the losing effort.

The Pirates only trailed by two, 25-23, at halftime but early in the second half found themselves down 30-23 after a quick spurt from the Pointers. However, Wheelersburg countered with a quick 7-0 run to tie the game and the rest of the period was back and fourth with the Pirates holding a 3-point edge going into the fourth quarter.

Late in the fourth quarter, the Pirates continued to lead until Elijah Adams hit a 3-pointer for the Pointers, giving South Point a 62-60 advantage with just under a minute to play. After a couple of quick turnovers by Wheelersburg, The Pirates had to start fouling to try to extend the game, however, South Point knocked down all of their attempts at the charity stripe, spoiling a last-second attempt at a Pirate victory.

“Tip your hat to South Point, they made big plays and shots,” Ater said. “The ball didn’t bounce our way a few times and we didn’t make it bounce our way a few times.”

Adams and Tayshaun Fox scored 18 points apiece to lead the Pointers as South Point hit eight treys on the night.

“We didn’t stop the basketball well enough,” Ater said. “We knew that was going to be a problem with their ability to penetrate. We didn’t guard the ball in the one-on-one battles well. And then once you help with the penetration, you give up the kick-out threes. Then you miss some box outs because of that. I felt like many of their threes came on second-chance opportunities. So, when you’re constantly helping and rotating, you’re kind of playing from behind defensively. We tried to throw somethings in to slow that down but whatever we were in, we just did not do a good job of stopping the ball at the point of attack. When you give up 70 points, you’re going to get beat a lot of times.”

As the season concludes for Wheelersburg, the Pirates will lose Coleman, Daylor Lewis, Tanner Bivens, JJ Stamper, Clayton Meadows, Keaton Newsome, Clint Hatfield, Taylor Doerr and Lyden Collins to graduation.

“That’s a special group of guys,” Ater said. “Six of those guys have been four-year players for us. For me, being at Wheelersburg, I associate Wheelersburg with six of those guys. And for the three seniors that joined us this year, they were unbelievable additions to our program.

“They really set the culture and chemistry every single day. Selfless group of guys; I couldn’t be prouder of the seniors. We came up just short of our goals but those guys deserve some recognition.”

Ater said he was proud to have coached that group of seniors.

“Kaden Coleman has been unbelievable as a person and as a player,” Ater said. “His development over four years, you could write a story about just how far he’s come and he came in as a solid freshman. It wasn’t like he was a bad player but where he got to, and some of the awards and things he’s going to get down the road and what he’s going to be as a person more so than that, he really deserves a lot of recognition.

“But all of those guys. Keaton Newsome’s leadership, Tanner Bivens, they were just phenomenal. I just really appreciate their efforts over the last four years. I love those guys to death and I’m sorry that we didn’t get them where we wanted to go as far as tournament time goes.”

By Chris Slone

[email protected]

Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.

Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.