JACKSON — Simulating an opposing team’s defensive looks can take you as far as your counter-acting execution.
Entering Saturday’s Division III sectional final versus Chesapeake, the Minford Falcons knew they would be going against the Panthers and coach Ryan Davis’ daunting 2-3 match-up zone.
During the first half — particularly the second quarter — of the eventual 59-49 season-ending loss for Minford, coach Josh Shoemaker coudn’t have asked for a better scenario for his team than a nine-point halftime lead on 9-for-14 three-point shooting with eight makes coming in the second.
However, the Panthers — as good teams do — adjusted defensively with an even more daunting man-press to force 22 Minford turnovers by game’s end, winning the second half 39-20 after the Falcons took as large of a lead as 15 in the early third.
“Our preparation for the match-up zone, our kids did everything we asked,” Shoemaker said, following the 10-point defeat. “Had the confidence to step up and make the shots and took care of the basketball. Then they switch to the man-press, which has been our Achilles’ heel. Can’t turn it over against quick teams like Chesapeake, and when you do turn it over, you can’t give up layups.”
After trailing Chesapeake 10-5 after one, the Falcons simply caught fire, maybe more so than at any other time this season.
Minford’s game-high 24 points in a quarter came with junior guard Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis scoring 14 of its 29 first-half points.
Fellow junior Skyler Knore connected on two three-point makes during the first half before finishing the game with nine points.
Sophomore Trenton Zimmerman, who was responsible for one of the Falcons’ first-half three-pointers during their scoring barrage, scored Minford’s first eight points of the second half and its lone third-quarter points to take a 37-22 lead with six minutes left in the period.
That, however, would be the exact moment things would change.
By the end of the third after Zimmerman’s fourth field goal of the period, Chesapeake finished the frame on a 15-0 run by forcing Falcon turnovers and, as Shoemaker alluded to, taking advantage of opportunities after gaining possession.
“At halftime, we knew it was probably going to be man-press. They wanted to get up in us because they’re quicker than us, got a little tired and just had way too many turnovers,” Shoemaker said. “Another thing is that the turnovers then led straight to layups. Very tough loss, really proud of our kids for laying it all out there. You don’t want to blame or point fingers — we win or lose as a team. It’s just tough because I thought they did everything we wanted, just got a little tired and turned the ball over too much.”
Chesapeake captured the fourth 22-12 after both teams entered the final eight minutes tied 37-all.
Vogelsong-Lewis scored a team-high 16 in the loss, while Zimmerman scored 11.
For the Panthers, Dilen Caldwell scored 13 of his game-high 22 in the second half, while Levi Blankenship scored 15 on seven made field goals.
Minford, one of the pleasant surprise threats in the Southern Ohio Conference Division II race during the regular season, will graduate three seniors following Saturday’s season-ending loss in Nathan McCormick, Hunter Davis and Andy Crank.
While a win to get back to ‘The Convo’ for the first time since 2017 would have been the ideal result, Shoemaker wants the best for his three seniors while hoping they instill lessons learned into the Falcon underclassmen.
“We wanted to send our seniors off with a win, get them back to ‘The Convo’; they went their freshman year,” Shoemaker lamented. “We had the seniors talk to our underclassman, ‘What would you have done differently?’. They’re three great kids, better students in the classroom first and foremost. Great student-athletes who have really represented our school and community well.”
Chesapeake advances to a Division III district semifinal versus Wheelersburg on Sunday, March 1 at ‘The Convo’ in Athens with tipoff scheduled for 3:45 p.m.
Minford 5 24 8 12 — 49
Chesapeake 10 10 17 22 — 59
MINFORD 49 (13-10)
Hunter Davis 2 0-0 5, Trenton Zimmerman 5 0-0 11, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 5 2-2 16, Skyler Knore 3 0-0 9, Nathan McCormick 3 0-0 8, Drew Skaggs 0 0-0 0, Matthew Risner 0 0-0 0, Adam Crank 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 18 2-2 49; Three-point field goals: 11 (Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 4, Skyler Knore 3, Nathan McCormick 2, Hunter Davis and Trenton Zimmerman 1 apiece)
CHESAPEAKE 59 (19-3)
Travis Grim 1 0-0 2, Levi Blankenship 7 1-2 15, Dilen Caldwell 6 7-7 22, Austin Jackson 1 0-0 2, Trent Dearth 2 2-4 6, Josh Cox 1 0-0 2, Ethan Taylor 3 2-4 10; TOTALS: 21 12-17 59; Three-point field goals: 5 (Dilen Caldwell 3, Ethan Taylor 2)
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