McDERMOTT — If the old cliché, “Save your best for last” has any bearing, the seniors on the South Webster boys basketball team certainly saved their best for what could have been their final game.
In their down-to-the-wire win over the No. 6-seed Symmes Valley in Wednesday’s Division IV sectional final, South Webster’s four seniors — Brayden Bockway, Andrew Smith, Devyn Coriell and Gabe Ruth — combined to score 43 of the Jeeps’ 56 points in their 56-54 win over Vikings.
It wasn’t the No. 11-seed Jeeps’ largest margin of victory this season, nor was it a win over the best team South Webster has faced this season.
Rather, it was the best case of South Webster doing exactly what it took to win a game by any means necessary — something that has certainly been the case over the last month as Jeeps coach Brenton Cole’s group are now winners of eight of their last nine contests, also clinching their fourth straight trip to the Convocation Center in Athens for next week’s Division IV district tournament.
Four seniors, four-straight sectional titles.
Following the narrow two-point victory, Cole spoke glowingly of each of what his four seniors brought to the table.
“Brayden (Bockway) struggled a little bit from three, which wasn’t necessarily expected, but when you have to work that hard to keep Jack Leith off the boards, it’s going to take a toll on your body. Our season turned around when Gabe (Ruth) started attacking, looking to finish at the rim. He’s really a spark plug for us — it’s great to have that fourth scorer. Devyn (Coriell) was so amp-ed up for this game. When you get a senior that doesn’t want to lose, it shows on the floor. He brings that energy on both ends, and our team feeds off of that. Andrew Smith is such a leader on the court, we’re late in the game and he joked and gave me permission to switch up defenses as we tried to match-up with them. It’s a fun night, it was stressful — but the win makes it that much sweeter.”
Wins do in fact have a tendency to make the ensuing celebration that much sweeter, as Cole alluded to.
In Wednesday’s victory — South Webster’s second this season over Symmes Valley after a 75-67 home win back on Dec. 21 — the Jeeps have punched their fourth consecutive trip to ‘The Convo’ with their fourth consecutive Division IV sectional title win.
Devyn Coriell scored a season-high 19 points for the Jeeps on seven field goals and three-for-three foul-shooting, Gabe Ruth scored 14 on five field goals and four-for-five free-throw shooting, and Brayden Bockway and Andrew Smith each scored five as the pair made two field goals apiece.
Trae Zimmerman — the lone non-senior to score for South Webster in its two-point win — scored 13 points with four field goals and five-for-nine free-throw shooting.
“Trae’s going to be a name we’re going to keep hearing,” Cole said of Zimmerman. “Made it to ‘The Convo’ now twice as a sophomore, and he continues working.”
One of Cole’s main focuses heading into its matchup with the Vikings was how his team would do rebounding the basketball.
Strikingly enough, the Jeeps were out-rebounded by Symmes Valley 41-14 despite narrowly edging those from Lawrence County in the final score.
“I heard that one of the teams last night got out-rebounded by three and still won, I thought that we might get out-rebounded by 10 and still hope we would win,” Cole joked. “It comes in waves with them. They’ll take three or four rebounds on one possession if you let them, and we let them. We’re going to have to box out more, especially with this Trimble team coming up.”
Jack Leith led the Vikings with a team-high 18 points on eight-made field goals while Logan Walsh scored 17 with six-made field goals, five of which were three pointers.
One stat that did favor South Webster was one that favored Cole’s patented defense: turnovers.
By game’s end, the Vikings surrendered possession to the Jeeps 22 times, while South Webster turned the ball over just 10 times.
“The turnovers got us extra possessions,” Cole said. “We came up empty way more than I liked with the long-ball. Getting back into rebounding and how we did, it definitely helps when you’re able to force them to give you the ball back.”
South Webster now advances to Tuesday’s nightcap Division IV district semifinal versus No. 3-seed Trimble — 61-42 winners of Eastern Meigs in its sectional final on Wednesday.
Trimble finished its season as Division IV district runners-up a year ago in a 64-53 defeat to eventual regional runner-up New Boston.
“We’re going to keep practicing, getting ready for the bigger floor there,” Cole said. “It’s a different atmosphere, but it’s an awesome one. Our kids have gotten to go there a few times, hopefully that experience helps us when we get there.”
South Webster and Trimble will play in their Division IV district semifinal on Tuesday, March 3 with tip-off scheduled for 8 p.m. at the Convocation Center in Athens.
South Webster 10 17 11 18 — 56
Symmes Valley 13 12 14 15 — 54
SOUTH WEBSTER (12-12)
Trae Zimmerman 4 5-9 13, Gabe Ruth 5 4-5 14, Cam Carpenter 0 0-0 0, Andrew Smith 2 0-0 5, Devyn Coriell 7 3-3 19, Brayden Bockway 2 0-0 5, Aidan Andrews 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 20 12-17 56; Three-point field goals: 4 (Devyn Coriell 2, Brayden Bockway and Andrew Smith 1 apiece)
SYMMES VALLEY (14-9)
Logan Brace 0 0-0 0, Caden Brammer 1 1-2 3, Luke Leith 3 0-0 6, Josh Ferguson 3 1-2 8, Jack Leith 8 2-4 18, Logan Walsh 6 0-0 17, Drew Scherer 1 0-0 2, Eli Patterson 0 0-0 0, Tobey Smathers 0 0-0 0; TOTALS: 22 4-8 54; Three-point field goals: 6 (Logan Walsh 5, Josh Ferguson 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