NEW BOSTON — Before and after Saturday’s matinee of a Southern Ohio Conference Division I boys basketball makeup matchup, the New Boston Tigers first celebrated their winter Homecoming —then simply celebrated their second consecutive SOC I outright championship by cutting down the nets in some dazzling red-clad shirts.
In between, the Red simply had its way with visiting Green, as — for the second time this season against the Bobcats — the talented and highly-touted Tigers notched 94 or more points.
That’s because the Tigers tallied the opening six counters, including an omen layup right off the opening tipoff — and never trailed in ultimately winning by a 94-64 count inside a socially-distant and unusually sun-soaked Homer Pellegrinon Gymnasium.
That’s right, Saturday’s sunshine shown through the large upper corner window of the gym —and spotlighted on the Tigers taking their SOC I win streak to 28 games.
New Boston, which went undefeated in the division last year and won the smaller-school SOC side for the first time since the 1996-97 campaign, boosted this year’s SOC I tally to a perfect 12-0.
The Tigers, which finished ranked sixth in the final Division IV Associated Press statewide poll, raised their record to 18-2 —and completed the season sweep of the Bobcats.
Clear back in their SOC opener at Green in early December, the Tigers torched the nets for a season-high 102 points — while the Bobcats did score 75 themselves.
On Saturday, however, the Tigers amassed at least 21 points in all four quarters — including dashing out to a 21-8 advantage in which the closest Green got was a 6-1 deficit only a minute and 26 seconds in.
The Tigers amounted a 45-27 halftime lead, and nearly netted that second century mark against Green —going for 25 third-period points followed by 24 more in the fourth.
Four Tigers tallied at least 15 points, including a team-high 33 from Kyle Sexton — a frontrunner for state Player of the Year in Division IV.
Sexton scored on the easy driving layup off the opening tip, and to be frank, from there — as NewFound Glory once sang — it was all downhill from here.
The Tigers dominated on the glass, and turned multiple Bobcat turnovers with the full-court pressure into transition baskets on the other end.
It was actually New Boston’s first tilt in 11 days, but by the Tigers’ performance and head coach Adam Cox’s confidence in his club, you would never know it.
Cox said his New Boston boys are treating every game as if each is a tournament bout, even though the top-seeded Tigers’ Division IV sectional championship duel is not until Saturday night.
“We worked hard while we were off. In fact, the hardest practices we’ve had all year were the last four days. Just preparing to not play until Saturday (Feb. 27) for the tournament was what we were planning on. But you could tell our kids came to play today and we treated it like a tournament game. There’s no junior varsity. You warm up, the ball goes up, and it’s like a tournament game. We’re trying to prepare for every game from here on out as if it’s tournament style,” said Cox.
Sexton scored his 33 points — with 20 in the opening half — on 16 two-point makes with 23 attempts, as he also tried one three-point goal.
He also made 1-of-4 free throws, as the only true negatives New Boston endured on Saturday were 1-of-11 first-half three-point shooting —and 10 first-half team fouls to Green’s four.
Sexton also completed a double-double with a dozen rebounds.
Tanner Voiers tallied two-thirds of Sexton’s points with 22 of his own —including nine two-point goals through the opening three quarters, followed by a fourth-quarter three and split of charity tosses.
Grady Jackson and De’Von Jones each added 15 points —as both made six baskets, including one trey by the junior Jackson and two by the senior Jones.
“I thought Kyle (Sexton) did a great job offensively of distributing the basketball and scoring it. Tanner did a good job of taking advantage of mismatches. All in all, it was a great team effort that all started with Grady’s and De’Von’s defensive efforts. They got after the ball early, and got us some early buckets,” said Cox. “Proud of them today.”
Jackson meshed a pair of first-stop free throws, while Jones split a pair in the fourth.
The Tigers burned the nets for 41 field goals including five threes — as Brady Voiers got in the act with one in the first, followed by sinking two fourth-frame foul shots.
Chase Clark, who missed most of the final canto and overtime period in the dramatic division-clinching win at Notre Dame, returned for the first time in two weeks —and scored two baskets.
He missed the Tigers’ most recent game before Saturday —their 92-85 loss against Division III rival Minford.
Cox said he believed the Bobcats wanted to run with the Tigers, and they had practiced against that all week.
“We knew it was going to be an up-and-down game, and we knew Green was one of the teams that liked to run with us,” said the coach. “They have (Levi) Sampson, who is fast as lightning and is quick and can jump and can rebound. Then you have (Ethan) Huffman, who is probably one of the fastest kids in the league. They have those two, but we felt like if we could run our six at those two, our numbers were going to favor us at the end. Fortunately, we were able to jump on them early and turn them over and get some easy baskets that way.”
For the Bobcats, which fell to 9-10 and 6-7 in the SOC I, sophomore scoring machine Levi Sampson poured in a game-high 37 markers — on 11 deuces, a second-stanza trifecta and a hefty 12-of-15 free throws.
Ethan Huffman hit for 17 points on eight buckets and a foul shot — as Levi Blevins with a third-quarter three and a fourth-quarter two, Wiley Sanders with a second-period basket and Levi Singleton with a fourth-quarter three-pointer rounded out the Bobcats’ scoring.
Green coach Scott Blankenship re-stated all of those strong qualities which New Boston exhibits, but said Saturday’s result all began with the Tigers dictating tempo.
“They (Tigers) are a really solid basketball team. They are well-coached, disciplined and they have that senior leadership that’s been here. But I told my kids that if we didn’t take care of the basketball, that it would be a long day. That’s what happened,” he said. “They started it early with the press and we weren’t able to handle it. Just turned it over. And it goes to show our inexperience with this team.”
But, Blankenship said his young Bobcats still played hard until the end —and the prolific scorer Sampson tallied 20 of his 37 after halftime.
He scored 16 in the third quarter alone, including seven of his 11 two-point goals.
“My team always plays hard for me. When we were down 25-plus, we never quit. That’s all you can ask of them,” said Blankenship. “Levi Sampson takes a beating inside. It seems like every time he is at the basket and scoring, there are guys all over his arms. Sometimes he gets the calls and sometimes he doesn’t. He is a really hard fighter and a competitor. He’s a sophomore and it shows sometimes, but he always steps up and today he battled all the way to the end.”
Speaking of not giving up, the Bobcats have turned around from a 1-8 beginning to now 9-10.
Green will return home, and compete in Division IV sectional semifinal action, on Wednesday night against visiting Southern.
In fact, the Bobcats defeated the visiting Tornadoes 76-56 for their initial victory of the season.
Now, they need another win on Wednesday — in order to reach Saturday’s sectional final.
“We were 1-8, and we lost some games that we shouldn’t have lost. But New Boston is the only team who we’ve lost to twice. It’s been a learning process being a first-year coach coming in and these guys adapting to me and me adapting to them,” said Blankenship. “We were successful against Southern the first time this year, and we did some good things in getting that win. But Coach (Jeff) Caldwell will have them ready to play as always, and it will probably be a good game. But we have to take care of the basketball, or else it’s going to be another very long game for us.”
* * *
Green 8 19 24 13 — 64
New Boston 21 24 25 24 — 94
GREEN 64 (9-10, 6-7 SOC I)
Levi Sampson 12 12-15 37, Ethan Huffman 8 1-4 17, Levi Blevins 2 0-0 5, Levi Waddell 0 0-0 0, Levi Singleton 1 0-0 3, Wiley Sanders 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 24 13-19 64; Three-point field goals: 3 (Levi Sampson, Levi Blevins and Levi Singleton 1 apiece)
NEW BOSTON 94 (18-2, 12-0 SOC I)
De’Von Jones 6 1-2 15, Grady Jackson 6 2-2 15, Tanner Voiers 10 1-2 22, Kyle Sexton 16 1-4 33, Luke Henson 0 0-0 0, Seth Perry 0 0-0 0, Chase Clark 2 0-1 4, Brady Voiers 1 2-2 5; TOTALS 41 7-13 94; Three-point field goals: 5 (De’Von Jones 2, Grady Jackson, Tanner Voiers and Brady Voiers 1 apiece)
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