WEST PORTSMOUTH — In the game’s final 30 seconds, and with things tied up at 53-all, West junior Noah Coleman made the game’s biggest — and last — shot in the Senators’ two-point win over Minford.
Senior Marion Phillips found a wide-open Coleman underneath the basket, allowing the junior guard to lay in the game’s go-ahead bucket with just 20 seconds to play.
Now needing just one stop to solidify first-year coach Caleb McClanahan’s first career victory at the varsity level, West’s defense forced Minford into a turnover — halting the Falcons’ chances at the game-tying or go-ahead shot.
With the 55-53 win, West improves to 1-2 (overall and SOC II) after back-to-back season-opening losses to the Southern Ohio Conference’s (Division II) top two clubs a season ago — Waverly and Wheelersburg.
The third time was in fact the charm for McClanahan and the Senators, whose win on Wednesday night may have opened their own eyes — and those around the conference — for where they hope to finish in this year’s SOC II race.
“To have a game like that against a well-established program like Minford, to have it (first win) happen in a game like that is awesome. I’m just so happy for these kids, this senior class,” McClanahan said, after the win. “We’ve talked about being special, wanting to do special things here — hopefully this is a start. We needed the confidence coming off the Waverly and Wheelersburg games, now they’re seeing the results of their hard work and it’s a great thing to see.”
West’s defensive stand in the final seconds was one of its many over the course of the game, as the Senators forced Minford into 23 turnovers.
When the Falcons were getting their shots on the offensive end, they did fall with some regularity.
Minford finished 18-of-36 from the field — including an 11-of-12 mark from inside the three-point line — while tossing in seven threes on 24 attempts, five of which came from junior Trenton Zimmerman who had a game-high 24 points.
West attempted 13 more shots than the Falcons, shooting at a 21-of-49 clip, or 43-percent from the field.
The Senators only had 15 turnovers, eight less than their league opponent.
That type of defensive efficiency is what McClanahan believes will win his team games this season.
“We preach be active on the defensive end — if you’re going to rest, do it on offense,” McClanahan said. “Getting stops is what high school basketball is about. They were active getting deflections — really proud of their effort on the defensive end.”
Zimmerman’s game-high 24 was just ahead of senior Falcon Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis’ 20 points.
Zimmerman and Vogelsong-Lewis indeed accounted for 44 of Minford’s 53 points, as four other Falcons made up their remaining nine.
Senior Luke Howard led West with a team-high 15 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while senior Rodney Moore and junior Jesse Dixon each had 10.
Moore and fellow senior Andrew Jones were active for the Senators on the offensive glass — combining to grab eight of West’s 15 offensive rebounds as it outrebounded Minford 23-21.
“Luke Howard has to play like that for us to do the things we want to do. He comes back with the most experience, one of our better players and is a captain,” McClanahan. “And we’ve just got to keep feeding the big man Rodney (Moore) the ball. He does great things with the basketball when he has it, just have to keep working on our post feeds and getting him involved.”
COVID-19 quarantines and subsequent postponements and cancellations around southern Ohio have hampered some teams’ ability to practice and play their originally-scheduled games.
Although these two programs just faced off against one another, they will be right back on the hardwood this Friday (Dec. 18) night for the second leg of their doubleheader.
Thanks to some quick schedule maneuvering, West and Minford (2-2, 1-2 SOC II) will be back playing in Muletown just two days after their meeting at ‘The Rock’.
This go-around, McClanahan says his team will be planning to do a better job of limiting the Falcons’ two leading scorers — in hopes of a season sweep and an overall improvement to a .500 record.
“I don’t know how many teams have played the same team twice in three days. They’re going to be ready for what we do, and we’ve got to know where Zimmerman and Vogelsong-Lewis are,” McClanahan said. “We’ve got to do a better job of recognizing their players and getting out to contest their shots.”
Minford 11 16 16 10 — 53
Ports. West 15 14 11 15 — 55
MINFORD 53 (2-2, 1-2 SOC II)
Trenton Zimmerman 9 1-2 24, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 5 8-9 20, Skyler Knore 1 0-0 2, Matthew Risner 0 0-0 0, Drew Skaggs 1 0-0 2, Devan Parker 0 1-2 1, Levi Coriell 2 0-0 4, Nathaniel Knight 0 0-0 0, Ethan Connally 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 18 10-13 53; Three-point field goals: 7 (Trenton Zimmerman 5, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 2)
WEST 55 (1-2, 1-2 SOC II)
Ryan Sissel 1 1-4 3, Luke Howard 7 0-0 15, Tanner Cantrell 0 0-0 0, Jesse Dixon 3 3-6 10, Marion Phillips 2 2-3 6, Noah Coleman 2 1-2 5, Luke Bradford 0 1-2 1, Andrew Jones 2 1-2 5, Rodney Moore 4 2-2 10; TOTALS 21 11-21 55; Three-point field goals: 2 (Luke Howard and Jesse Dixon 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