SOUTH WEBSTER- The South Webster Jeeps gave everything they had against the defending SOC champion Minford Falcons Wednesday night, and managed to come up just short of an upset. Shane Zimmerman poured in eight three pointers on the night, and led all scorers with 35 points as he joined the thousand point club.
Minford started the game hot, hitting their first three shots from deep. South Webster relied on the shooting stroke of Shane Michael much of the night, and he rarely failed them. The Falcons started to work the ball inside, though, taking advantage of their size. At the four minute mark in the second quarter, Zimmerman hit a three to officially join the 1,000 point club. He would take the ball down court on the next possession and do the same again, as well, totaling 23 first half points. At the half, the Falcons were leading 35-31.
Minford came out showing a zone defense in the second half in an effort to cool down Zimmerman. It worked to an extent, as he found less room to work. Both teams battled back and forth, with Brandon Rowe leading the Falcons. Rowe was fantastic, scoring 32 and driving the ball inside time after time. He shot 14 of 14 from the free throw line and gave the Falcons the boost they needed to maintain their lead.
In the fourth, Alek Blevins hit a three point bucket that would tie the game at 52 all. Minford would once again retake the lead. With just thirty seconds left and a two point lead, Rowe was fouled and would go to the line. He hit both for the Falcons and cemented the victory with the final score, 63-59.
Despite the loss, Jeep Head Coach Ryan Fenton was proud of his club and his leading scorer.
“I thought our kids fought hard all evening,” said Fenton. “Unfortunately, we just came up a little short. Minford is a tremendous team and bigger at every position. We knew we had to outwork them to put us in a position to win. We gave them everything we had but just couldn’t pull off the win in the end. Nonetheless, I am incredibly proud of our kids’ effort tonight.”
“Shane did a tremendous job of leading our offense. His shot was falling early so we tried to run sets to free him up and get him open looks. He handled the rest from there and played extremely well. For us, we’ve had an abundance of close games this year but we’ve just struggled to pull out wins in many of them. We play in a loaded conference and we know it will prepare us for the tournament. We are looking forward to the second season and will continue to work every day with our goal being the district championship.”
South Webster travels to West Portsmouth to play the Senators Friday. Game time is 7:30.
Minford Head Coach Josh Shoemaker was not quite as impressed by his team’s performance, despite the win.
“It was a win,” said Shoemaker. “We were just very fortunate to win tonight. Zimmerman did a great job of getting open off screens and we didn’t do a very good job of guarding him. All the credit to Coach Fenton and the Webster kids for playing a great game tonight. Trey Kelley did a good job looking for his shot tonight by starting from the inside out. But the biggest thing is that until we rebound for four quarters we aren’t going to be able to put teams away. We had a big lead early on but we struggled with rebounding and kept them in the game all night.”
Minford goes to Valley February twelfth for a game that may decide the SOC title. However, Coach Shoemaker is not overlooking their next opponent: the Oak Hill Oaks.
“We have Oak Hill Friday. If we are going to come out and play a four point game tonight our focus has to be on Oak Hill. If we look ahead we will get beat. We have go out there and guard and rebound. It’s the game plan every game and if we don’t do it we will get beat.”
Minford hosts Oak Hill on Friday. Tipoff is 7:30.
Box Score 1 2 3 4 F
Minford 22 13 15 13 63
South Webster 12 19 15 13 59
Minford: Rowe 32, Kelley 15, Alley 7, McCormick 6, Gullett 2, Dalton 1
South Webster: Zimmerman 35, Shonkwiler 9, Blevins 7, Hadinger 6, Bennington 2
Reach Derrick Parker at email@example.com or on twitter @DC__Parker