WHEELERSBURG — If Waverly could’ve stopped either Tanner Holden early or J.J. Truitt late, the Tigers would’ve escaped Wheelersburg with a win Tuesday evening.
But Waverly couldn’t stop Tanner Holden or J.J. Truitt — early, late or anywhere in between.
The Pirates’ senior-sophomore duo combined to score 51 points and bring down 24 rebounds — of the team’s 31 total — in a 75-57 win over the Tigers in Southern Ohio Conference action.
“Just the win overall is huge. It’s a momentum changer,” Holden said. “[Waverly] is a great team. They like to run fast. The arena, it was crazy all night. So it’s a huge win and it really puts us in a good spot in the SOC race.”
That it does.
Wheelersburg (4-0, 3-0 SOC II) now owns wins over Northwest, Oak Hill and Waverly in conference action. In between those three, there’s a victory over Ironton as well.
“I think we said early on that this team could have a very high ceiling,” Wheelersburg coach Steven Ater said. “But we’ve got a lot of growing left. As we get more experienced, I think we can be really good. If you told me, when you looked at our schedule, that we’d be 4-0 after at Ironton, at Oak Hill and Waverly coming in here, I’d tell you it’s going to take a lot to get there. So I give the kids credit.”
Holden starts hot
Right away, Holden made his presence known.
The future Wright State Raider tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds … in the first half alone. Holden scored seven straight points between the 4:35 and 3:17 marks in the first quarter and six more consecutive points between the 4:45 and 3:39 marks in the second.
“I think our guys did a really nice job of recognizing some size mismatches and going at [Holden],” Ater said. “And Tanner was patient, he was catching and it and going to the rim and then he was on the offensive boards. That was the big thing early on. Our offensive rebounding and our transition points got us going.”
Truitt seals the deal
While Holden had the pleasure of opening the contest on a hot streak, Truitt closed on one.
Down the stretch, the sophomore put the game into his own hands, hit his free throws and knocked down shots when his team needed it most.
“J.J. is kind of like our closer,” Ater said. “He’s 6-foot-3, he can shoot it from anywhere and he’s so strong and physical with his drive. He can make his free throws so we just put the ball in his hands, late in the game, and he’s going to work it and gets us into our offense while protecting the lead.”
Although early, Truitt made sure it was known that the Pirates are nowhere near the level they could potentially be at. There’s work to do but each day comes with more reps, which equals fine-tuning the little things.
“I feel like we haven’t even reached our peak yet,” Truitt said. “Sometimes, we’ll show signs of rustiness because we started [basketball season] so late because of [a playoff] football [run]. But once we continue to get around each other, it’s all about the brotherhood. That’s what’s special about us.”
Tale of the tape
Behind Holden, Wheelersburg shot out to a 16-9 lead after the first eight minutes and, using the same formula, the Pirates took a 35-21 lead into halftime.
But just when it looked as if Wheelersburg would coast to victory, the Tigers (3-2, 2-2 SOC II) clawed their way back into things.
Trailing 37-23, Trey Robertson hit a 3 with 6:41 left in the third before Cody Remington later followed suit, trimming Wheelersburg’s advantage back to 11 at 47-36.
Robertson then drove to the lane and was fouled, and was also awarded two additional free throws when the Pirates were whistled for a technical foul. The freshman hit three of four attempts, cutting the lead to 47-39. After forcing a turnover on the defensive end, Remington hit another 3, with less than three minutes left until the fourth, making it 47-42 and closing a 9-0 run.
The Pirates took a 53-48 lead into the fourth before Haydn’ Shanks brought Waverly to within three points, thanks to a putback, at 53-50.
But that was as close as Waverly would get.
Leading 58-54, Wheelersburg was awarded six consecutive free throws — two on a blocking foul and four more on back-to-back technical foul calls against the Tigers. The Pirates converted 3-of-6, seizing a 61-54 advantage, and then looked to Truitt to put a stamp on the win.
Holden led all scorers with 34 points alongside a game-high 17 rebounds. Truitt followed with 17 points and seven boards while Justin Salyers finished with nine points. Trent Salyers also chipped in, scoring seven points, while Connor Mullins ended with four points, four boards and three assists.
For Waverly, Remington and Ethan Dunn both scored 13 points while Robertson finished with nine. Cobe Marquez was also a factor, scoring eight points and grabbing four rebounds.
What’s on tap
The Pirates look to stay undefeated Friday evening, traveling to West, while Waverly looks to bounce back the same evening, heading to Minford.
“[West] has five seniors that, I think, they start,” Ater said. “There’s a lot of experience there and they’re guys can shoot the basketball. They’ll be up to playing us. So we have to come in and practice like we’re 0-4.”
BOYS BASKETBALL FINAL: Wheelersburg 75, Waverly 57.@tannerholden_23 (BURG): 34 points, 17 rebounds@jjtruitt_33 (BURG): 17 points, 7 rebounds@Codyremington2 (WAV): 13 points@ethandunn30 (WAV): 13 points#PDTsports pic.twitter.com/buDOM1WsAr
— Derrick Webb (@dw1509) December 19, 2018
Waverly: 9-12-27-9 — 57
Wheelersburg: 16-19-18-22 — 75
Waverly: 18-45 FG, 18-23 FT, 3-18 3pt. (Remington 2), 18 rebounds (Shoemaker 4, Marquez 4), 20 turnovers, 9 assists (Remington 3). Scoring: Remington 13, Dunn 13, Robertson 9, Marquez 8, Wolf 6, Shanks 4, Smallwood 2, Shoemaker 2.
Wheelersburg: 29-53 FG, 15-20 FT, 2-10 3pt. (J. Salyers 1, Truitt 1), 31 rebounds (Holden 17), 19 turnovers, 8 assists (Mullins 3). Scoring: Holden 34, Truitt 17, J. Salyers 9, T. Salyers 7, McCorkle 2, Miller 2.
Reach Derrick Webb at (740) 353-3101, ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter at @dw1509.