MCDERMOTT – From the tip, it seemed somewhat evident that Green was in trouble.
Despite their best effort to stave off the upset bid from seven seeded Whiteoak, the second seeded Bobcats ultimately fell in overtime, 59-56 in a Division IV sectional final at Northwest High School.
“We were up five, slowed things down a little bit, but we weren’t very patient with the basketball after that,” said Green head coach Dirk Hollar following the loss. “It was just the little things I’ve stressed all year. Kids played their tails off tonight, I can’t ask for anymore from them. Down ten and came back to take the lead. We had chances, just couldn’t get over that hump. They hit two big threes, and it felt like that was the difference in the game.”
After tying things in the late stages of the first at 8-8 thanks to four points from Tayte Carver, who would eventually finish with a game high 29 points to go along with seven rebounds, Whiteoak was able to get two quick buckets before the first period would end to extend their lead to 12-8 after the first eight minutes.
It wasn’t the prettiest of opening periods, a theme that would remain constant through most of the first three periods for both sides. In the opening frame, Green and Whiteoak combined for 13 turnovers. By game’s end, Whiteoak and Green finished with 19 and 16 turnovers respectively.
In the second period, Whiteoak would extend their lead thanks to the play of Hunter Ruckel. Ruckel scored eight of his team high 19 points in the second period to give the Wildcats a 27-17 lead going into the lockeroom.
Green’s largest deficit of the game came in the early third quarter when Whiteoak would push their lead to 31-19. But, the Bobcats wouldn’t go down without a fight.
Thanks to the continued efforts of Carver who scored 14 of his 29 points in the third frame alone, Green scored 23 points in the third period to cut the Whiteoak lead to just two points at 42-40. If it weren’t for Bradley Ashbaugh’s buzzer beating three to end the third, Green would have led by one entering the fourth.
“Tayte was getting to the rack, getting hammered once he got there,” said Hollar. “He was making his shots, maybe should have got a couple calls when he got to the rack, but this time of the year they let them play physical. He had a great game, got us where we needed to be, and that’s what seniors like him do.”
In the fourth quarter and overtime, ill-timed shots and costly turnovers down the stretch ultimately cost the Bobcats a chance at their second consecutive sectional final.
As Carver’s excellent look that would have sent the game into double overtime barely rimmed out, so ended the careers of Green seniors Carver, Tanner Kimbler, Zach Huffman, and Caden Blizzard.
“You can’t ask for a better group than that,” said an emotional Hollar when lamenting on what his seniors mean to him and the Bobcat program, “They’re fun, they’re goofy, they play hard. It’s an emotional time for me right now. I’m going to miss those four more than anything in this world. Sky’s the limit with those four.”
Green returns junior Gage Sampson, sophomore Ethan Huffman, sophomore Levi Singleton, amongst other rotation players, something that Hollar is looking forward to when next season rolls around.
“After I talked to the seniors I talked to the underclassman and said, ‘I don’t ever want to feel this way ever again’, And they don’t ever want to feel this way ever again. Gage Sampson agreed and Ethan Huffman both agreed, Levi Singleton gave us some good minutes tonight off the bench which helps him. We’ve got some bigs coming back so we’ll have to change our game a little bit, pound it inside. Sampson’s little brother is a monster, so there’s a lot to look forward to, but this one hurts. That’s a good group of seniors.”
Whiteoak: 12-15-15-10 (7) – 59
Green: 8-9-24-12 (4) – 56
Whiteoak: 20 FG, 8 3PT (Ashbaugh 3), 11/17 FT, 19 turnovers. Scoring: Ruckel 19, Ashbaugh 11, Rand 10, Hamilton 7, Roberts 6, Cumberlan 3, Carr 3
Green: 22 FG, 4 3PT (Carver 4), 8/11 FT, 16 turnovers. Scoring: Carver 29, Sampson 14, Blizzard 6, Kimbler 5, Huffman 2
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT