SOUTH WEBSTER — When South Webster’s execution on the offensive and defensive ends is clicking, the Jeeps show glimpses of the team head coach Brenton Cole hopes they’ll be by season’s end.
When the Jeeps struggle, they can — at times — be vulnerable.
In Tuesday’s 58-50 home loss to Southern Ohio Conference Division II newcomer Eastern, the Jeeps’ vulnerability played out as it has since their season-opening win over East just over three weeks ago. Tuesday’s loss was South Webster’s sixth-straight as they fell to 1-6 (0-4 SOC II).
Don’t fret yet, Jeep fans. There’s still plenty of basketball to be played and plenty of time to improve.
For now, however, Cole and his players are tasked with a turnaround from their sub-par start.
“Our defense, we gave up 17 points to them in the first quarter and 19 points in the third quarter after halftime, but we were on fire so it didn’t look as bad in the third,” Cole said following the loss. “We’ve got to hold teams under 50 if we plan on winning.”
In addition to their defensive struggles Cole mentioned, South Webster was without Brayden Bockway, the team’s leading scorer (17.2 ppg), for most of Tuesday’s loss — but it wasn’t due to injury.
The senior forward couldn’t manage to stay on the floor due to foul trouble, playing less than a full quarter of game-action and managing just one point on a free throw and zero made field goals.
“Bockway playing two or three minutes didn’t help, and he committed the fouls I’m not disputing that,” Cole said. “We need some leadership there and definitely need him on the floor.”
With Bockway sidelined for more than three quarters of official game action, other Jeeps were required to step up if they hoped to knock off the Eagles without their leading scorer.
Trae Zimmerman fit the bill, even in defeat.
The sophomore guard finished with a season-high 18 points, 13 of which came in the third quarter after the Jeeps trailed Eastern 22-16 at the halftime break.
Zimmerman scored 13 of the Jeeps’ 24 third-quarter points in addition to two Andrew Smith threes, a Brady Blizzard three, and a Gabe Ruth bucket which brought South Webster to within one at 41-40 heading into the final quarter of play after winning the third 24-19 over the Eagles.
“Trae’s been great here lately; He’s a spark plug for us,” Cole said. “He starts hitting shots and he feeds off his defense, getting hands on balls and getting deflections. It’s good to see his growth as a sophomore, really stepping up and playing hard.”
Eastern rode its horse in the final quarter in the form of senior Hunter Cochenour, whose 27 points led all scorers with 10 coming in the fourth on eight-for-eight free-throw shooting and a made field goal.
As a team, the Eagles combined to shoot 13-for-16 from the charity stripe in the fourth with a 16-for-20 clip for the entire game.
With just one game standing between them and the new calendar year, it’s safe to say the Jeeps have plenty of time to work on the things Cole believes will ultimately have them headed in the right direction.
“We need to work on our defense,” Cole said matter-of-factly. “Giving up almost-20 in two quarters is almost-40 and if our goal is to hold them under 50 to win, it’s tough to win that way. We have to improve on the defensive end, and our execution is something we need to get better at.”
South Webster hosts Symmes Valley on Friday in a non-league game beginning at 6 p.m.
Eastern 17 5 19 17 — 58
South Webster 7 9 24 10 — 50
EASTERN 58 (5-2, 2-2 SOC II)
Drake Ferguson 0 0-0 0, Dillon Mattox 3 1-4 7, Gabe McBee 4-4 4, Hunter Cochenour 7 8-8 27, Neil Leist 2 3-4 9, Brennon Slusher 2 0-0 5, Chase Carter 3 0-0 6, Gage Denny 0 0-0 0, Jake Tribby 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 17 16-20 58; Three-point field goals: 8 (Hunter Cochenour 5, Neil Leist 2, Brennon Slusher 1)
SOUTH WEBSTER 50 (1-6, 0-4 SOC II)
Trae Zimmerman 6 2-4 18, Gabe Ruth 3 3-3 10, Andrew Smith 3 0-0 9, Devyn Coriell 2 2-2 6, Brayden Bockway 1-2 1, Brady Blizzard 1 0-0 3, Will Collins 1 1-4 3, Aidan Andrews 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 16 9-15 50; Three-point field goals: 9 (Trae Zimmerman 4, Andrew Smith 3, Brady Blizzard and Gabe Ruth 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2019 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved