MINFORD — If it hadn’t happened in front of a socially-distant crowd and been recorded in the scorebooks, Minford’s 33-point first-quarter scoring barrage may seem more fantasy than non-fiction.
From the opening tip in Friday’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II rematch, it seemed quite clear that the Falcons — two-point victims (55-53) at ‘The Rock’ two days prior — weren’t going to be satisfied with another sluggish start.
By the 1:50 mark of the first quarter, Minford had exploded out to a 31-3 lead over the Senators — forcing eight West turnovers in that six-minute span and capitalizing in big ways on the other end.
Junior Trenton Zimmerman, seniors Skyler Knore and Matthew Risner, and sophomore Adam Crank each cashed in on a three apiece in the opening frame — as the Falcons shot 12-of-25 from behind-the-arc.
Twelve field goals and a 5-of-5 free-throw shooting stretch helped Minford to a 33-6 lead after the game’s first period, as coach Josh Shoemaker’s team won the final 24 minutes by one point.
While the difference was in large part Minford’s hot start, it was all possible thanks to its aggression — something Shoemaker himself feels they didn’t have enough of in Wednesday’s meeting between the two at West.
“We were aggressive today,” Shoemaker said. “The other day, and credit to West’s 1-3-1, we were just so passive and turned it over and didn’t get anything out of it. If we were going to turn it over, I at least wanted us to be aggressive. I thought Matthew Risner set the tone running point, Elijah (Vogelsong-Lewis) and Trenton (Zimmerman) really got after it. Our defense led to offense and transition points; Adam Crank came off the bench and gave us a really big first half after being out the last two games. The biggest thing was intensity on the defensive end and pushing it in transition.”
In the first half of play, Minford committed just five turnovers — a far cry from its 13 first-half turnovers against West’s 1-3-1 zone which the Senators used to make the Falcons uncomfortable in their prior meeting.
Zimmerman’s hot stretch for the Falcons versus West continued in a big way, scoring a season-high 31 points on 12 makes (five threes) and two made free throws.
In their two games against the Senators, Zimmerman had game-highs of 24, and yes, Friday’s season-high 31.
The junior made strides for Minford over the course of his sophomore season, but Shoemaker attests this year’s version of the six-foot-four forward is a much more all-around player.
“It’s night and day. He’s stronger, he’s so much more confident,” Shoemaker said. “The biggest thing I see is that he’s scoring inside, and he’s hitting the three-ball. He’s got a stronger build, worked on his game — especially tonight, at times running the point. He’s scoring in all aspects in the basketball game, really being patient and hitting the open shots.”
Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis scored 11 points — all of which came in the first half — after scoring 20 in their first meeting with West.
Knore and Risner each had eight, as Crank came off the bench and added nine of his own.
West was led in scoring by Jesse Dixon, who had a team-high 16 on six made field goals.
Dixon and Senator senior Tanner Cantrell each connected on three three-point field goals, as West shot six-of-16 from deep.
Minford will attempt something on Tuesday it’s yet to be able to do thus far in the 2020-21 campaign — win back-to-back games.
To do so, Shoemaker’s Falcons will need to hand two-time defending SOC II champion Wheelersburg its first loss of the season.
And to do that, Minford’s coach believes it all begins — and ends — with their level of aggression on both sides of the ball.
“I think the biggest thing is being aggressive without fouling,” Shoemaker said. “Our first loss we got in foul trouble and didn’t shoot the ball well. But it’s okay to be aggressive and to make mistakes. We have to be aggressive — it’s who we are.”
Port. West 6 9 23 12 — 50
Minford 33 12 22 11 — 78
WEST 50 (1-3, 1-3 SOC II)
Ryan Sissel 3 1-4 7, Eli Adkins 0 0-0 0, Luke Howard 0 0-0 0, Tanner Cantrell 3 0-0 9, Jesse Dixon 6 1-2 16, Marion Phillips 1 0-0 2, Steven Sadler 0 0-2 0, Noah Coleman 2 1-2 5, Luke Bradford 0 0-0 0, Brandon Koch 0 0-0 0, Andrew Jones 1 0-0 2, Brennan Overby 0 0-0 0, Jacob Davis 0 0-0 0, Rodney Moore 4 1-2 9; TOTALS 20 4-12 50; Three-point field goals: 6 (Jesse Dixon 3 and Tanner Cantrell 3 apiece)
MINFORD 78 (3-2, 2-2 SOC II)
Trenton Zimmerman 12 2-2 31, Elijah Vogelsong-Lewis 3 5-5 11, Skyler Knore 3 0-0 8, Matthew Risner 3 0-0 8, Drew Skaggs 1 0-1 2, Devan Parker 0 1-2 1, Levi Coriell 1 0-2 2, Adam Crank 4 0-0 9, Nathaniel Knight 2 0-0 6, Ethan Connally 0 0-0 0; TOTALS 29 8-12 78; Three-point field goals: 12 (Trenton Zimmerman 5, Skyler Knore, Nathaniel Knight and Matthew Risner 2 apiece, Adam Crank 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