FRANKLIN FURNACE — Typically, a basketball team’s longest break between games during the season is a matter of days, maybe a week or more at the most during the holidays.
Unless of course ‘Flu Week 2020’ happens. In the Green Bobcats’ case of dealing with the previous week-and-a-half’s cancellations, coach Dirk Hollar’s group hadn’t seen the court for game action in 17 — yes, 17 — days.
The long layoff may have been the reason for the Bobcats’ rust in their 65-57 Senior Night loss to Coal Grove on Tuesday night, but Hollar isn’t making excuses for his team’s unfavorable result.
“We missed eight layups in the first half. I can’t tell ya how many we missed in the second half; missed free throws, missed box-outs,” Hollar said. “You get what you get when you can’t play for 17 days, but that’s not an excuse. We scouted them, watched their film. We did a bad job coming off screens, bad job chasing. When they did miss, we couldn’t grab any rebounds. It didn’t help that Gage and Levi (Sampson) got in foul trouble, and we continued to turn the ball over in big moments.”
When Green tried taking advantage over the Hornets, it often resulted in a quick response by their visitors. In each of the quarters in Tuesday’s game, Coal Grove managed to win each frame by one possession — totaling their eight-point win by game’s end.
The Bobcats managed to take the lead from the Hornets on two separate occasions in the first half — 7-6 and 26-25 — but were never able to establish more than a one-point lead.
Midway through the third quarter when it appeared as if Green might pursue its third lead of the game, senior Gage Sampson picked up his fourth foul while brother Levi picked up his third — forcing both players to the bench to avoid disaster.
Coal Grove would take its biggest lead of the game at 62-48 late in the fourth, before ultimately holding onto its eight-point win.
Sampson finished with a team-high 15 points, Ethan Huffman scored nine of his 13 points in the second half, Levi Singleton scored nine of his 12 points during the first half, and Levi Sampson and Alec Smith combined for 15 points.
Senior Caden Brammer connected on two free throws during his valuable minutes in the third quarter when both Sampsons were sidelined due to foul trouble.
Prior to tip, Green honored its five basketball seniors — Sampson, Smith, Brammer, Trevor Darnell and Nathan Weigand, each of which also started as is a Senior Night custom — during their Senior Night festivities.
“Gage is one of the best players in the area, Moose (Brammer) and (Nathan) Weigand are great, coachable kids who do everything we ask. I’m so glad Alec and BBop (Darnell) played this year, they’ve made us a completely different team,” Hollar said. “We were projected to finish at the bottom of the league, and today we’re right there in the middle. Great group, coachable group, fun to be around — they play their butts off.”
Green will continue the last week of its regular season Wednesday in a make-up versus Western, its regularly-scheduled home game versus Symmes Valley for Friday, and a to-be-determined date in its make-up game versus Notre Dame.
In the released Division IV tournament seeding Sunday, Hollar’s Bobcats were slated as the nine seed in a postseason path that includes their sectional semifinal game versus No. 24 East on Feb. 18 at Northwest and, pending a win over the Tartans, a sectional final game versus No. 8 Crooksville at Wellston on Feb. 25.
“I didn’t really want the eight or nine seed because we wanted to avoid Crooksville and Peebles, but it is what it is,” Hollar joked. “Our guys have to be focused and ready. I like that we drew East so we have a game before that sectional final. We’ve heard Crooksville is good, they play mostly D2 and D3 teams. Can’t play like we did tonight, but also can’t have 17 days off before then. Just have to keep battling and keep playing.”
Coal Grove 12 17 23 13 — 65
Green 10 16 20 11 — 57
COAL GROVE 65 (6-14)
Perry Kingery 0 0-0 0, Cory Borders 7 4-6 21, Evan Gannon 7 0-1 17, Peyton Smith 5 0-4 10, Tait Matney 2 1-2 5, Luke Ferguson 0 0-0 0, Malachi Wheeler 2 1-2 6, Jarren Hicks 2 2-2 6; TOTALS: 25 8-17 65; Three-point field goals: 7 (Cory Borders and Evan Gannon 3 apiece, Malachi Wheeler 1)
GREEN 57 (9-10)
Alec Smith 3 1-2 7, Ethan Huffman 6 1-6 13, Levi Singleton 4 0-0 12, Gage Sampson 5 5-7 15, Levi Sampson 2 3-4 8, Trevor Darnell 0 0-2 0, Caden Brammer 0 2-2 2, Dawson Damron 0 0-0 0, Wiley Sanders 0 0-0 0, Nathan Weigand 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 20 12-23 57; Three-point field goals: 5 (Levi Singleton 4, Levi Sampson 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