JACKSON, Ohio — It wasn’t as easy as the seedings might have suggested but the outcome was still inevitable.
Overcoming early struggles and a 2-point halftime deficit, the fifth-seeded Minford Falcons beat the No. 12 Crooksville Ceramics 75-60 Thursday night in a Division III Sectional Semifinal match at Jackson High School.
”I’m glad we got the win,” Falcons head coach Josh Shoemaker said. “We didn’t take care of the ball tonight. In the second half, we turned it up and I thought we rebounded the ball well.”
Minford had five players score in double figures, led by Trey Kelley. Coming off a school record 52-point performance Saturday night against Warren, Kelley scored 16 points, 12 coming from beyond the arc on four treys.
Dillon Shepherd, Brandon Rowe, Matthew Gullett and Cameron Dalton were the other Falcons to reach the double-figure plateau. Shepherd scored 15, Rowe 13, Gullett 12 and Dalton finished the night with 11 points.
”It can’t get anymore balanced than that, tournament scoring wise that’s what we want to get,” Shoemaker said.
The Falcons were anything but comfortable to begin the game. Minford allowed Crooksville to shoot 52 percent in the first half while only hitting 46 percent of its own shot attempts. The Falcons also coughed up the rock 10 times in the first 16 minutes of play. The end result was a 32-30 advantage for the Ceramics.
”(They were) just careless passes,” Shoemaker said. “We were careless with the basketball. We just didn’t take care of the basketball.”
In the second half, as Minford began to find its rhythm, a choppy play brought the Falcons together. Dalton, a freshman forward, appeared to have an easy layup attempt when a Ceramics’ player grabbed both of his arms to keep him from releasing the ball.
The officials deemed the play to be flagrant, which gave Dalton two free throws and Minford the ball. However, before that determination could be made, Kelley stepped up for the freshman, drawing a technical in the process.
”There’s a lot of emotion, both teams were really getting after it. I think we’ve got to do a better job of composure there but at the same time, both players were just trying to take care of their teammates. You always want to have your teammate’s back,” Shoemaker said.
Minford will return to Jackson to face No. 4 Alexander on Friday. Tipoff is scheduled at 8:30 p.m.
”We played them earlier this season at their place and got beat,” Shoemaker said. “They’re a very physical, sound defensive team. It’ll be a good game.”
Crooksville 12 20 12 16 — 60
Minford 12 18 18 27 — 75
Crooksville — French 2-1-5, Landon 3-5-11, Dustin 2-0-4, Tamnen 12-5-32, Eric 2-3-8.
Minford — Rowe 5-3-13, Gullett 4-1-12, Dalton 3-5-11, Shepherd 7-1-15, Kelley 6-0-12, Alley 2-4-8
Three-point field goals — Crooksville 4 (Tamnen 3, Eric); Minford 7 (Gullett 3, Kelley 4).
Records — Crooksville N/A; Minford 16-4
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.