McDERMOTT — You’d be hard-pressed to find a Division IV team in the Southeast District playing as well at the right time than the No. 11-seed South Webster Jeeps are currently.
With its 67-39 win over No. 22-seed Huntington in Wednesday’s sectional semifinal, South Webster improves to 11-12, becoming winners of seven of its last eight games — including Saturday’s SOC II win over then-ranked Oak Hill — after a less-than-ideal 4-11 start.
It’s tournament time, which typically means teams should be playing their best basketball this time of the year.
Jeeps’ coach Brenton Cole knows that, and admits his group is close to being the level of team he had hoped they would be at the start of the season.
“We said that the ‘Burg and Oak Hill games were scrimmages to help us with things to get better at,” Cole said, following Wednesday’s 28-point win over the Huntsmen. “We definitely learned things from those games. Even tonight, we worked on some presses and different things that they had ran. We didn’t quite get into some of those things like I’d hoped, so there’s still that learning curve of things we need to keep pushing for to get to playing our best basketball.”
In total, 10 of the 12 Jeeps who saw time on the court in their win over Huntington scored.
Each of South Webster’s five starters managed at least seven points, while being led by Brayden Bockway’s game-high 16 and Andrew Smith and Trae Zimmeran’s 13 points apiece.
Zimmerman started his scoring barrage early, connecting on three-of-four threes to start the game with a team-high nine first-quarter points.
Smith scored each of his 13 points in the second half as the Jeeps extended their lead over Huntington to as high as 30.
As a team, South Webster shot eight-for-18 from behind-the-arc — a key mark the Jeeps hope to hit if they plan to claim another sectional title.
“Both of those guys were crucial,” Cole said, of Zimmerman and Smith. “Trae hitting those early spreads out their defense, and having Bockway helps. Now when he catches the ball, teams know to run two or three guys at them. When he doesn’t release it at the rim, he can kick it to guys that are wide open. When they knock down shots like that, we’re dangerous.”
No Huntsmen player managed more than Seth Beeler’s team-high 12 points on four-made field goals.
As a team, South Webster forced the Huntsmen to a 14-for-52 mark from the field.
“We really got after it on the defensive end, something I’m preaching all the time,” Cole said. “We came in at halftime with an 11-point lead and knew that was nothing to them; they’re capable of getting points — the Beeler kid’s a great scorer and is capable of getting them back in the game himself. We came back in the second half, strengthened our defense which led to get us getting buckets on the offensive end. Getting in transition, knocking down threes which always helps.”
With the win, South Webster advances to the sectional title game — where they’ll have to go against a familiar opponent: Symmes Valley.
The Jeeps earned a 75-67 non-league win over the Vikings way back on Dec. 21. At the time of that win, South Webster was in the pits of their season-worst six-game losing streak.
Since then, the Jeeps are 10-6 and are arguably playing their best basketball to date.
According to Cole, rebounding will be more than key if South Webster hopes to advance back to ‘The Convo’ in Athens for the Division IV district tournament for the fourth straight season.
“We have to rebound, those guys are tenacious on the offensive glass,” Cole said. “We’ve got to box them, get the rebound to keep them from getting four or five possessions. If we do that, I like our odds.”
South Webster and Symmes Valley will play their Division IV sectional final on Wednesday, Feb. 26 at Northwest High School with tipoff slated for 8 p.m.
Huntington 7 10 13 9 — 39
South Webster 17 11 25 14 — 67
Gavin Free 10-4 2, Brian Hertenstein 1 0-0 3, Dalton Haubeil 2 0-2 5, Seth McCloskey 1 0-2 3, Seth Beeler 4 3-4 12, Alan Smith 0 0-0 0, Matthew Baker 0 0-0 0, Darius Brown 1 0-0 2, Jarod Bellar 0 0-0 0, Luke Lewis 3 0-0 8, Nick Marion 0 0-0 0, Dalton Black 0 2-2 2; TOTALS: 14 5-14 39; Three-point field goals: 6 (Luke Lewis 2, Brian Hertenstein, Dalton Haubeil, Seth Beeler and Seth McCloskey 1 apiece)
SOUTH WEBSTER 67 (11-12)
Connor Bender 1 0-0 2, Trae Zimmerman 4 2-2 13, Gabe Ruth 3 1-2 7, Cam Carpenter 1 0-0 2, Andrew Smith 4 2-2 13, Jaren Lower 1 0-0 2, Devyn Coriell 3 1-3 8, Brayden Bockway 4 7-8 16, Zander Rawlins 0 0-0 0, Aidan Andrews 1 0-0 2, Will Collins 1 0-2 2, Myles Beasley 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 23 13-19 67; Three-point field goals: 8 (Trae Zimmerman and Andrew Smith 3 apiece, Devyn Coriell and Braden Bockway 1 apiece)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved