FRANKLIN FURNACE — As Friday demonstrated, the New Boston Tigers can still run a track meet for a basketball game —and can still score 100-plus points.
The only difference in this season is that the talented and highly-touted Tigers are doing so as defending Southern Ohio Conference Division I champions.
Despite a foul-fest of a contest against the host Green Bobcats, the Tigers turned it up with at least 26 points in the final three quarters — and ran away from the rebuilding Bobcats 102-75 in their first game as SOC I champions since the 1996-97 campaign.
The matchup marked the SOC I opener for both teams, as New Boston is now 2-0 while Green is 0-2.
The Tigers took their third and final lead at 12-11 with 34 seconds remaining in the opening quarter, and aside from Levi Blevins banging in three second-stanza three-pointers for the Bobcats, turned the game into a preferred fast-paced up-and-down free-for-all.
New Boston built a 35-20 advantage in fact midway through the second, then withstood a 15-5 Green rally over the final four minutes and 20 seconds of the half — to truly blow the game open in the third frame.
That’s when the Tigers doubled up the Bobcats 32-16 to lead 72-51, thanks to a Kage Truitt rebound putback at the buzzer.
By then, New Boston had pressed its way well ahead, had forced foul trouble upon the depth-strained Bobcats — and was within striking distance of scoring 100 points.
With a minute remaining, the Tigers — which went 22-2 last season and finished ranked third in the final Division IV Associated Press statewide poll — hit the century mark.
Kyle Sexton, the six-foot five-inch versatile senior and reigning (OPSWA) Southeast District Division IV Player of the Year, assisted to Tanner Voiers for that 100th point.
Sexton then, off a Brady Voiers steal, spinning slam-dunked the Tigers’ 101st and 102nd points with 37 seconds left.
But per fourth-year New Boston coach Adam Cox, Friday’s affair wasn’t about building individual all-state cases for Sexton, Tanner Voiers and Chase Clark —or even scoring 100 points or capturing the attention of statewide AP poll voters.
It was about being hungry all winter long towards defending their outright SOC I championship.
“We said we’re coming in here and showing people that we’re ready to defend our title. I think we did that. Proud of them tonight,” said Cox.
Besides getting the Bobcats into an all-out running game, the Tigers turned turnovers by Green into transition points.
Fouls also added up fast for the dozen-man Bobcats, as Ethan Huffman had four while Levi Sampson and Levi Singleton each had three in the opening half —while Bobcat big men Dawson Damron and Wiley Sanders were whistled for two apiece.
Huffman, Singleton, Damron and Sanders all fouled out — as the Tigers took 34 free-throw attempts and meshed 25.
“We got them in foul trouble early in the first half, and they had (Ethan) Huffman and (Levi) Singleton and their primary ballhandlers on the bench. We switched from pressing to more of a half-court set, and we were able to disrupt and get in the passing lanes and not give them so many easy baskets,” said Cox. “Once they started trying to trade baskets with us, we just kept pressing it up the floor and running. Green didn’t stop running the whole game, and that’s why the score was the way it was. Neither team stopped playing until the buzzer. They were going at us hard. Down 30, they were still running the ball up and down the floor.”
Green’s first-year coach Scott Blankenship concurred.
“We got ourselves in foul trouble early, and we weren’t able to dig out of that hole. Levi Blevins came off the bench and hit three threes to keep us in the game the first half. New Boston is a very good basketball team. They are very well-coached, are fundamentally sound and they return almost everybody,” he said. “We didn’t handle the press very well. Just too passive against it and not being aggressive.”
Speaking of aggressive, that is exactly what the Tigers were —scoring 90 of their 102 points over the final 24 minutes and 34 seconds.
Voiers erupted for a team-high 26 points on nine total field goals and 4-of-5 free throws, Sexton poured in 25 on eight field goals and 9-of-12 free throws, and Clark converted 19 points on six total field goals and a perfect 4-of-4 foul shots.
Voiers with four and Clark with three including a second-quarter pair accounted for all seven of the Tigers’ three-point goals, as Voiers and Sexton scored seven first-half points apiece.
New Boston racked up 35 field goals on 76 shots for 46-percent, and amassed 27 assists while grabbing 34 rebounds.
“I was just proud of our kids’ composure and holding tight. They (Bobcats) cut it to five (40-35) to end the half, then three three times in the third quarter, but we were able to just execute and hits some shots. Our senior leadership really stepped up in the second half. When you can get guys like Kyle (Sexton) and Tanner (Voiers) in the second half going like we did, that’s when our wheels are turning and we’re at our best,” said Cox. “I’m proud of our kids and we shared the ball really well.”
Sexton shot 9-of-12 from the field in often attacking the rim, and ripped down a dozen boards while dishing out a half-dozen assists with two blocked shots and two steals.
Grady Jackson made it four Tigers in double figures, adding 11 points on four field goals and 3-of-6 free throws.
Jackson also assisted on eight buckets, and made off with three takeaways.
De’Von Jones scored seven points on two baskets and 3-of-5 free throws, and hit double digits in rebounds with 10.
Brady Voiers netted eight points on three deuces and 2-of-2 foul shots, while Truitt tallied three field goals for six points.
The sophomore Sampson, the only underclassman starting for the Bobcats, pumped in a game-high 32 points —on 12 field goals and 8-of-13 foul shots.
The Bobcats kept pace for a half with a pair of 24-point quarters including the second, as Sampson’s rebound stickback got Green to within 40-37 only 30 seconds into the third.
He scored again to make it 42-39 just a minute and 10 seconds later, as Huffman had a basket for a 44-41 deficit just 30 seconds after that.
Over the final 4:48 of the frame, though, and sparked by Sexton’s three-point play, the Tigers outscored the Bobcats 28-10.
New Boston ballooned its lead to as large as 102-71 following Sexton’s slam.
But Cox cautioned that for as explosive as the Tigers’ offensive effort was, New Boston better play better defense going forward.
“We wanted to play better defense. Our seniors said we have to play better defense if we’re going to really contend. We got in a trading baskets situation with them, but we don’t want to play that way,” said the coach.
Singleton with 13 on four field goals and 5-of-7 free throws, Blevins with 11 and buoyed by his three treys, Huffman notching nine on three baskets and 3-of-5 freebies, and Sanders adding eight on four buckets all aided in Green’s scoring effort.
The Bobcats were playing just their second game — as they opened with a 69-49 loss at South Webster almost two weeks back.
“We’re in rebuilding here at Green and we have a lot of young people playing. This was our second game, but our first one was 10 days ago. This COVID is hurting people, but hopefully we can get games in and get in a basketball rhythm and a grove,” said Blankenship. “I thought our kids played hard tonight and didn’t give up. I’m proud of that fact.”
The Bobcats, which lost 71-55 at Rock Hill in a non-league matchup on Saturday night, return to SOC I action on Tuesday at Western.
The Tigers, meanwhile, return home —and return to non-league play —on Tuesday night for a makeup meeting with West Union.
New Boston 14 26 32 30— 102
Green 11 24 16 24 — 75
NEW BOSTON 102 (2-0, 1-0 SOC I)
De’Von Jones 2 3-5 7, Grady Jackson 4 3-6 11, Tanner Voiers 9 4-5 26, Josh Tabor 0 0-0 0, Kage Truitt 3 0-0 6, Kyle Sexton 8 9-12 25, Josh Alley 0 0-0 0, Chase Clark 6 4-4 19, Brady Voiers 3 2-2 8; TOTALS 35 25-34 102; Three-point field goals: 7 (Tanner Voiers 4, Chase Clark 3)
GREEN 75 (0-2, 0-1 SOC I)
Levi Sampson 12 8-13 32, Austin Ray 0 1-2 1, Ethan Huffman 3 3-5 9, Levi Blevins 4 0-0 11, Levi Waddell 0 0-0 0, Josh Hammonds 0 0-0 0, Braydon Chaffins 0 0-0 0, Levi Singleton 4 5-7 13, Dawson Damron 0 1-2 1, Wiley Sanders 4 0-1 8; TOTALS 27 18-30 75; Three-point field goals: 3 (Levi Blevins 3)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @BoggsSports © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved