MINFORD — Instead of the Falcons laying a trap for their conference rival ahead of their likely SOC II title deciding game this Friday, it was Wheelersburg who managed to limit Minford by playing some of their best defense this campaign.
In Tuesday’s 68-47 win over the host Falcons (10-8, 7-7 SOC II), the Pirates (16-2, 12-1 SOC II) played defense and rebounded in a similar style to that of their 37-point home win over Portsmouth on Jan. 18th.
While Trenton Zimmerman scored a game-high 24 points — including five-made threes (four in second quarter) — Wheelersburg held all other Minford scorers to seven points or fewer as their lead grew to as many as 29 half-way through the fourth.
“Outside of letting Zimmerman get free there in the second quarter, I don’t think there’s much to complain about,” Wheelersburg coach Steven Ater said post-game of his team’s defensive effort. “We got out, pressured hard, denying and pushing them off the three-point line which is where they’re really good and comfortable. We did a nice job of limiting to one shot for most of the night. It’s a six-point game at halftime, but if we finish some shots in the second quarter it could have been a bigger lead.”
Zimmerman’s 24 led all scorers, but the Pirates themselves did the majority of their scoring on the inside, putting three scorers in double-figures. Junior J.J. Truitt finished with a team-high 19 points (three-made threes), Matthew Miller scored 17, and Carter McCorkle scored 14. Each of Miller and McCorkle’s 11-made field goals were of the two-point variety while the pair combined to shot 9-for-12 from the foul line.
After holding a six-point lead at half, Wheelersburg won the second half 40-25 to roll past Minford in their 21-point win.
“We’re now to the point in the season where we’re trusting one another, knowing where to look for each other,” Ater said of the Pirates’ offensive execution. “Our guys are finding each other and realizing that one guy might have an open look, but the next guy has a better look. The ball’s moving better, and when you’ve got different weapons that can hit shots, it makes you really tough to defend.”
Wheelersburg’s win over Minford sets up a likely conference title deciding game between the Pirates and Waverly (15-4, 12-1 SOC II) this Friday.
Back on January 7th in their first meeting, Waverly handed the at the time No. 1 Pirates their first loss of the season, 67-58. In that meeting, Waverly sophomore Trey Robertson scored a game-high 36 points on 14 field goals while Will Futhey scored 16 to lead the Tigers. J.J. Truitt scored a team-high 15 for the Pirates in the nine-point loss.
Ater acknowledged that their early-January loss to Friday’s opponent was the Pirates giving the Tigers opportunities and Waverly seizing them. For that early season-result to flip in their favor and for Wheelersburg to get a leg-up in the race for a second-straight SOC II title, a defensive effort such as the one seen in Minford, Tuesday, will be required.
“We’ve learned to guard better,” Ater said looking ahead. “We didn’t guard them well the first time we played: they hit shots, got to the rim, and got offensive rebounds. So they hurt us in all three phases in the half-court side of things. For us to go up there and beat them, we’re at least going to have to fix a few of those phases — we can’t lose all three to them.”
Wheelersburg 7 15 9 16 — 47
Minford 18 10 23 17 — 68
Wheelersburg 68 (16-2, 12-1 SOC II)
Aaron Jolly 0 0-0 0, Matthew Miller 5 7-10 17, Eli Swords 2 0-0 5, Carter McCorkle 6 2-2 14, J.J. Truitt 7 2-3 19, Gage Adkins 2 1-2 5, Mason Montgomery 0 0-0 0, Brayden Wilson 1 0-0 3, Corey Maxie 0 0-0 0, Kenny Sanderlin 2 1-2 5; TOTALS: 25 13-19 68; Three-point field goals: 5 (Truitt 3, Wilson, Swords 1 apiece)
Minford 47 (10-8, 7-7 SOC II)
Hunter Davis 1 0-0 2, Trenton Zimmerman 7 5-6 24, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 2 2-2 7, Skyler Knore 1 1-2 3, Nathan McCormick 2 0-0 5, Drew Skaggs 0 2-4 2, Matthew Risner 1 0-1 2, Adam Crank 0 0-0 0, Andy Crank 1 0-1 2; TOTALS: 15 10-16 47; Three-point field goals: 7 (Zimmerman 5, Vogelsong-Lewis, McCormick 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved