ATHENS — March is officially upon us, and that means Southeast District boys basketball inside Ohio University’s Convocation Center in Athens —a.k.a. the “Roundhouse on Richland”.
Wheelersburg was a Division III Sunday semifinalist, and on Tuesday night, Scioto County neighbors New Boston (vs. Leesburg Fairfield) and South Webster (vs. Trimble) will face separate semifinal opponents in Division IV.
It’s the goal — and even dream — of every high school boys basketball player in the Southeast District to have an opportunity of a lifetime and play in “The Convo”, which has been the annual home of the district tournaments, and regional tournaments, in Divisions II, III and IV for years.
Still, the game of basketball — at The Convo or elsewhere —is all about making shots, and making more shots worth one, two or three points than your opponent.
It’s often amusing, albeit the folks mean well and it’s worth-while discussion, all the analysis of the Convocation Center games along Internet message boards.
Play this defense, play that defense.
Match up man-to-man. Full-court zone press. Gotta turn teams over. Gotta guard whomever, however.
And, as always, have to rebound well.
All of those aspects are important and do play key roles, but ladies and gentlemen and children of all ages, you still have to make shots to win.
And, unlike any ordinary high school gymnasium — from Logan’s Purple Palace of Jim Myers Gymnasium to Waverly’s historic Downtown Arena to Wellston High School’s deep sea of Navy Blue — shooting in the Convocation Center just isn’t the same.
Legendary and newly-retired Oak Hill head coach Norm Persin has always said The Convo “is a great place to shoot”.
He would know, for plenty of Persin-coached clubs —at Chesapeake and Oak Hill — have won and shot well in the building.
But the shooting background and depth perception at The Convo are much different, and often times —especially if you’re a newbie to the larger and wider floor —there is a learning curve.
However, that same curve needs to be a quick one —and shooters should be, better be, fast learners there.
Otherwise, missed shots piling up with those rolling baskets ultimately lead to elimination.
Wheelersburg will be among the first to testify to that for this season.
The Pirates, which lost to Chesapeake 54-51, misfired on their opening 11 shots from the field —and went 1-of-15 in the opening quarter.
They went just 8-of-28 in the entire half and only 5-for-17 from three-point range for the entire game.
That’s just 29 percent for those two tallies, although the Pirates did finish at 36 percent overall on 19-of-53.
However, as Eli Swords sank his three-pointer in the final seconds to make it 54-51 —just think had one of the previous dozen Wheelersburg misses from beyond the arc went in.
Perhaps a different Convo convo for the Pirates.
Ironton — on the other hand — in the nightcap semifinal on Sunday night, made seven first-half threes in leading Eastern Brown 23-11 at halftime, en route to a 56-41 win.
Of course, the pressure playing in the rounds at The Convo is amplified, and so shooting — set, squared and not rushed or ill-advised — becomes even more critical.
Some players, especially younger ones, can handle it —while others, even older ones, it still gets to them.
New Boston advanced all the way to the regional championship bout last season, but this is a new team in The Convo competing on Tuesday night — in an entirely new game.
Same with South Webster, which — spearheaded by senior shooting specialist Brayden Bockway — will likely put up plenty of trifecta attempts against the Tomcats.
Whether Bockway’s, or Kyle Sexton’s or Tanner Voiers’ shots for New Boston, go in is a different story.
Indeed, life in the Convocation Center is simply about making shots.
Not to mention, making more than your opponent.
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved