NEW BOSTON — Defense may win championships, but it also has a habit of winning games.
In its battle atop the Southern Ohio Conference Division I standings Friday night, New Boston (9-0, 5-0 SOC I) held Ironton St. Joseph (8-2, 4-1 SOC I) to just 38 points in its 50-38 home win, a far cry from the Flyers’ 72.2 points per game average through their first nine games.
In fact, New Boston limited Ironton St. Joe to just five points through the first 11 minutes of game action in Friday’s win.
Through New Boston’s first nine games in its unbeaten start to the season, the Tigers are outscoring their opponents by a 20.8 points per game (ppg) margin, while holding their opponents to a 44.7 ppg average.
“First half we really stepped up defensively,” New Boston coach Adam Cox said following the win. “Applied some pressure, tried making them play at an up-tempo pace. Had a very good game plan, wanted to contest their shooters because we knew how they can shoot the basketball.”
While Cox surely liked the Tigers’ ability to cut their opponents’ scoring average nearly in half — a preposterous stat in itself — New Boston’s offensive performance in Friday’s win was somewhat off-script for teams in Cox’s tenure.
It wasn’t for a lack of shooting, though — but rather a lack of making.
The Tigers managed just one made-three in Friday’s win — a second-quarter splash from Marcus Saunders which gave New Boston a 16-5 lead early in the period.
Aside from Saunders’ second-quarter three, New Boston went 0-for in three-point attempts while finishing 19 field goals from inside the three-point line.
“I just think we’re not shooting with confidence,” Cox said of his team’s shooting woes. “Shooting afraid to miss rather than shooting to make. Got to get better at shooting and being able to defend at all positions.”
Junior first team all-Southeast District forward Kyle Sexton was dominant on the glass and in the scorebook in Friday’s win. ‘
Sexton posted a game-high 26 points, 14 rebounds, and four steals in the Tigers’ 12-point home win over the Flyers, a performance ‘The Mailman’ Karl Malone himself would have been proud of.
“We knew that Kyle was going to have a size mismatch for anyone that guarded him,” Cox said. “Kyle’s just Kyle. He’s a gamer, he’s going to play his heart out to try and win every game.”
Jerome McKinley scored eight points and grabbed 13 rebounds in Friday’s win, Tanner Voiers scored five, Chase Clark and Grady Jackson scored four apiece, and Marcus Saunders scored three.
Ironton St. Joe’s J.C. Damron finished with a team-high 15 points in Friday’s loss.
Cox’s group will have a quick turnaround before one of its more highly-anticipated games this season — a road trip to Peebles to face the perennial Division IV threat Indians this Saturday evening.
Peebles coach Josh Arey and Cox are friends off the court, meaning that happens between the lines of a court typically stays that way. Knowing that, Cox is doing his best to get his team geared for a must-win game in hopes of keeping its unbeaten start alive.
“When the ball goes up, we’ll be fierce competitors, coaching and trying to do the best things for our teams,” Cox said. “I think if you ask anybody, it’s a match-up of top 10 teams in the state (in Division IV). It’ll be a big game for seeding purposes, first and second seeds are kind of up for grabs. It’s a big game for us, we’re going to have to play better than what we did tonight if we want to win.”
Ironton St. Joe 5 11 13 9 — 38
New Boston 11 14 17 8 — 50
Ironton St. Joe 38 (8-2, 4-1 SOC I)
Jackson Rowe 0 0-0 0, Matthew Sheridan 0 0-0 0, Zac Roach 2 0-0 4, Ryan Payne 5 2-6 15, J.C. Damron 3 3-6 9, Jared Johnson 3 0-0 6, Jimmy Mahlmeister 2 0-0 4, Max Weber 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 15 5-12 38; Three-point field goals: 3 (Payne 3)
New Boston 50 (9-0, 5-0 SOC I)
Malachi Potts 0 0-0 0, Grady Jackson 2 0-0 4, Tanner Voiers 2 1-2 5, Kyle Sexton 10 6-7 26, De’von Jones 0 0-0 0, Devin McLaurin 0 0-0 0, Blake Grant 0 0-0 0, Levi Bowman 0 0-0 0, Brady Ector 0 0-0 0, Marcus Saunders 1 0-0 3, Jerome McKinley 4 0-1 8, Chase Clark 1 2-2 4, Brady Voiers 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 20 9-12 50; Three-point field goals: 1 (Saunders 1)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved