McDERMOTT — The West Senators are simply “the Winators” right now.
That’s because the senior-heavy, and defensive-oriented, Senators captured their fifth consecutive victory on Wednesday night —going wire-to-wire and winning at Northwest 44-27 in a Southern Ohio Conference Division II makeup matchup.
The Senators, buoyed by an aggressive 1-3-1 half-court defense with a midcourt trap, scored several times in which the possession began with a Mohawk turnover —as Northwest was guilty of 24 total turnovers while scoring just 27 points.
When West wasn’t able to force a Northwest giveaway, the Senators muddied the Mohawks into an ugly shooting performance —as the young hosts hit just nine of their 40 (22.5-percent) field-goal attempts, including only one three-point make on 18 tries.
West was tied twice at 2-2 and 4-4, never trailed, and outscored the Mohawks 19-8 over the first half’s final 10 minutes and 38 seconds to lead by double figures from halftime on.
In the third quarter, the Senators surged ahead to their largest lead at 37-15 by canto’s end —as Northwest’s lone third-period points were a Brycen Carver split of free throws just 13 seconds in and a Caleb Scoggins basket just two-and-a-half minutes later.
That made it 29-15, as Northwest would not get any closer — sans another 14-point deficit at 37-23 with 3:26 left to play.
With the win, the Senators raised their record to 6-3 —and 4-3 in the rugged SOC II.
Caleb McClanahan, the first-year West head coach, said his Senators are buying into what his staff is teaching them and its philosophies—beginning on the defensive end.
“Our defense was phenomenal tonight. I thought our kids really came to play. The energy level was really high. And when it is high, we play really good defense. The kids are working hard, we’ve had really great practices here lately and the kids have bought into that side of the floor,” said the coach. “We play the defense that we do because of our length and energy, we can run in about 10 deep with it, and there’s not a lot of dropoff between the guys. If they are able to play defense, they will be able to stay on the floor for us.”
The loss left the young Mohawks, which have been unfortunately impacted by a couple of coronavirus quarantines, at 2-4 and 1-3 (SOC II).
Northwest head coach Rick Scarberry said such starts and stops kills continuity and rhythm, which the Mohawks need to develop in order to improve.
“That’s been our biggest thing. We got one (preseason) scrimmage in for an hour, then we got quarantined for 14 days. We come back and play two games, then get quarantined 10 more days. We miss 24 practices at the beginning of the season when we needed them. You usually have four or five scrimmages in that time, and with young kids, that’s crucial,” he said. “You can’t simulate the opposing team’s speed and size and skill sets and pressure in practice.”
Scarberry praised West Wednesday night for its play, and that the Mohawks’ offense — of course — isn’t used to seeing such different defenses as the Senators’ 1-3-1 zone.
“We knew what we were getting coming into tonight. You try to prep the kids and get them ready for that (1-3-1 zone), but you can’t replicate that in practice. When your two starting guards are freshmen, it’s really tough. We had three freshmen out there the whole second half. It’s tough when you’re playing seniors that are athletic, long and strong and have great anticipatory skills,” he said. “They really move, jump to the ball well and anticipate that next pass. They have two point guards and two shooters and they have a good team. I give them a lot of credit, but thought we could have played them a lot tougher. We missed shots and a lot of them were easy ones we normally make. And as a shooter, it’s frustrating to miss shots, but our decisions with the ball were bad tonight. We didn’t value the ball and threw it all over the gym.”
For West, McClanahan said he would like to see its offense finish its opportunities better —because low-scoring and defense-first encounters allows for fewer scoring chances.
“Once we start figuring out offense and executing on offense and finishing around the rim, I think we’ll be able to take the next step we need to take,” he said. “We’re getting good looks in the paint and around the rim, but we have to start finishing. We have to be tough and we have to finish.”
Against Northwest, the Senators shot 41-percent on 18-of-44, which was lowered by making only one of their seven three-point attempts.
However, that was an important three-point make, as Noah Coleman canned it off a Jesse Dixon assist to make it 10-4 and beat the first-quarter buzzer.
It jump-started the Senators scoring 27 points over the next two quarters —matching Northwest’s total for the entire game.
“That was a big shot Noah hit for us,” said McClanahan. “Jesse Dixon made a really good pass to him. We needed that at that time.”
Eleven separate Senators played and nine scored at least two points apiece, as Luke Howard had five field goals for 11 points —including eight points on four deuces in the opening half.
Andrew Jones scored seven in the closing half — on three baskets and a split of third-quarter free throws.
Howard shot 5-of-11 from the field, while Jones was 3-of-9 with nine of West’s 31 rebounds and three of the team’s 10 assists.
Carver, the Mohawks’ six-foot seven-inch senior center, paced all scorers with a dozen on four field goals and 4-of-8 free throws.
He also grabbed eight of Northwest’s 27 rebounds, as the Senators simply shut down standout freshman Connor Lintz, forcing him into 1-of-12 shooting —including not making any of his seven three-point tries.
Lintz and Scoggins scored four points apiece, while Landen Smith splashed the Mohawks’ only trifecta.
Northwest’s next two games are against arguably the top two SOC II squads — hosting Waverly on Friday night and traveling to Wheelersburg for a makeup matchup on Saturday night.
Scarberry stated the season is about improving with every single practice and every game.
“I’m happy that we stuck in there and kept playing. We’ll work on things again tomorrow in practice and get ready for this weekend,” he said. “That’s all we can do.”
Meanwhile, West — known more for its football success — is winning on the hardwood this season.
And “the Winators”, McClanahan said, are savoring that moniker — and feeding from it.
West will host South Webster on Friday night in another SOC II affair.
”The kids have bought into what we’re trying to do and they are seeing the results,” he said. “Practices have been phenomenal. We have nine seniors on this team and they’ve talked ever since I was hired in the summer about wanting to do something special and change the program and be the foundation of the future. It’s been a good start, but we aren’t satisfied with just winning six games. We have to keep them hungry and wanting more wins.”
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Ports. West 10 13 14 7 — 44
Northwest 4 8 3 12 — 27
WEST 44 (6-3, 4-3 SOC II)
Ryan Sissel 3 0-0 6, Eli Adkins 0 0-0 0, Luke Howard 5 1-2 11, Tanner Cantrell 1 1-2 3, Jesse Dixon 1 1-3 3, Marion Phillips 0 2-3 2, Steven Sadler 0 0-0 0, Noah Coleman 1 1-2 4, Luke Bradford 2 0-2 4, Andrew Jones 3 1-2 7, Rodney Moore 2 0-4; TOTALS 18 7-16 44; Three-point field goals: 1 (Noah Coleman 1)
NORTHWEST 27 (2-4, 1-3 SOC II)
Connor Lintz 1 2-2 4, Dakota Secrest 0 0-0 0, Kyle Butler 0 0-0 0, Landen Smith 1 0-0 3, Jay Jenkins 0 2-2 2, Brayden Campbell 0 0-0 0, Tanner Bolin 1 0-0 2, Brycen Carver 4 4-8 12, Austin Newman 0 0-0 0, Caleb Scoggins 2 0-0 4; TOTALS 9 8-12 27; Three-point field goals: 1 (Landen Smith 1)
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