McDERMOTT — It’s on to the next one for the New Boston Tigers, but not without a scare.
Tuesday night’s 43-40 Division IV sectional championship win over Whiteoak is a scare rather than an upset in the No. 2-seed Tigers’ favor largely because of their ability to make shots at the perfect time — particularly Chase Clark.
After the Tigers trailed Whiteoak 21-18 at halftime — scoring just nine points apiece in the first two quarters of play — the junior big man stepped up to score 11 of his team-high 13 points during the second half, as New Boston kept Whiteoak at an arm’s length for the final 10 minutes of the game.
“I put him back in the game with four minutes left in the fourth quarter and I said ‘Chase, you’re going to hit some very big shots,” New Boston coach Adam Cox said, relaying an in-game conversation with Clark. “‘They’re going to leave you open, step up and knock it down with confidence.’”
Knock down shots, he certainly did.
After Carson Emery scored his only two free-throw makes to bring Whiteoak within two, Clark connected on his only three-point make to give New Boston a 39-34 lead — a deficit the Wildcats just couldn’t overcome.
Seven of his 11 second-half points came in the fourth quarter, as both teams managed 11 points apiece in the final frame.
“Chase played amazing,” Cox added. “I’m glad he decided to step up and hit those shots.”
Bradley Ashbaugh’s would-be half-court heave that would have sent Tuesday’s sectional final to overtime just missed, as New Boston escaped with its tightest margin of victory since its SOC I championship — clinching a 63-60 road win over Ironton St. Joe.
The Wildcats — who end their season at 9-15 — established their early lead by trying to limit New Boston’s top two scoring options in juniors Kyle Sexton and Tanner Voiers with box-and-one and triangle-and-two defenses.
Sexton and Voiers combined for 16 points on six field goals in the win — with Voiers’ second of two-made three-pointers giving New Boston a 30-29 lead late in the third.
Prior to that, Marcus Saunders connected on his lone three-pointer to cut the Tigers’ deficit to just two at 29-27.
Sexton cleaned the glass more-than efficiently, finishing with a game-high 13 boards (seven offensive).
“I’m sure that people are going to see the score and see that they slowed us down, but our shot selection, shooting percentage, and defense in the first half is really why they had the lead,” Cox said. “It wasn’t really anything they did defensively, just our shot selection really put a hindrance on us early. But we’ll be ready — we’ll have something better prepared for that if we do see it again.”
The Tigers forced 12 Whiteoak turnovers while surrendering possession just nine times in their most recent grind-it-out affair.
The win over Whiteoak clinches the Tigers’ third straight trip to ‘The Convo’ in Athens for next week’s Division IV district tournament — a sentence that Cox admits sounds even more surreal with each passing year and each accompanying net-cutting ceremony.
“I never dreamed that back-to-back sectional titles would require a third, but it does. It comes with the territory of the program we’ve built… Three years ago, if I had said we would be one of the best Division IV teams in the state, have people shoot to win the SOC, be 22-1, no one would have ever dreamed that. There’s a lot of pressure that comes with that; I’ve got one of the better groups of kids to be able to step up and handle the pressure,” Cox said of New Boston’s third-straight sectional title and the pressure for his team that follows. “Tonight was just one of those nights where they weren’t ready for the season to end and we were able to pull it out.”
New Boston, the No. 2-seed, will now re-adjust following Tuesday’s scare to face No. 7-seed Fairfield — 63-43 winners over No. 10-seed South Gallia in its sectional final at Wellston High School.
The Tigers and Lions will meet in their Division IV district semifinal at the Convocation Center in Athens on Tuesday, March 3 with tipoff scheduled for 6:15 p.m.
Whiteoak 11 10 8 11 — 40
New Boston 9 9 14 11 — 43
WHITEOAK 40 (9-15)
Bradley Ashbaugh 0 0-0 0, Nick Bailey 2 5-6 9, Carson Emery 2 2-2 6, Landon Barnett 3 0-0 8, Josh Hughes 6 0-0 12, Brayden Yeager 2 1-2 5; TOTALS: 15 8-10 40; Three-point field goals: 2 (Landon Barnett 2)
NEW BOSTON 43 (22-1)
Malachi Potts 1 0-0 2, Grady Jackson 0 0-0 0, Tanner Voiers 2 0-1 6, Kyle Sexton 4 2-3 10, De’von Jones 2 1-2 5, Marcus Saunders 2 0-0 5, Jerome McKinley 1 0-0 2, Chase Clark 6 0-3 13; TOTALS: 18 3-9 43; Three-point field goals: 4 (Tanner Voiers 2, Chase Clark and Marcus Saunders 1 apiece)
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