FRANKLIN FURNACE — The pressure Green applied during the first half of Wednesday night’s Division IV sectional semifinal versus Southern helped set the stage for the game’s final outcome.
By game’s end, the Bobcats had forced 18 turnovers by the Tornadoes — 13 of which came in the first 16 minutes.
An early-season meeting with Southern gave Green (10-10) an idea that if its applied pressure had any effect, it would be a positive one, Bobcats coach Scott Blankenship said following the win.
“That was our gameplan coming in. We knew they didn’t have many kids who could handle the ball, handle the pressure, so we wanted to get out to a fast pace and fast start,” Blankenship said, after the game. “Then Coach (Jeff) Caldwell made some defensive changes that took us out of what we wanted to do. Just happy to get out of here with a win. A win is a win, especially here in the sectional semis.”
After trailing Southern 12-11 in the late stages of the first quarter, No. 14-seed Green closed the first half on a 20-7 run to enter halftime with a double-digit lead.
The No. 19-seed Tornadoes tried their best to cut into Green’s lead in the late stages, but the Bobcats typically had a response for any punch thrown.
The five-point final margin was the closest Southern got to Green’s lead after trailing 17-12 after one, but the Tornadoes did cut it down to seven points on several occasions during the second half.
Blankenship accredited that main difference in Wednesday’s win and their 76-56 win on Dec. 19 earlier this season to Southern’s own defensive pressure which forced 10 Green turnovers.
“Differences between that meeting and tonight was their pressure in the second half. They were coming up, taking us out of our offense — hats off to their group and Coach Caldwell for doing that,” Blankenship said. “He (Caldwell) does an exceptional job and his kids always come ready to play.”
Anytime the Tornadoes looked as if they’d dig in even more to Green’s lead, Bobcat senior Levi Singleton stepped up and knocked down a huge three.
Singleton connected on four threes as part of his 12-point performance — accounting for each of Green’s long-range makes in the five-point decision.
“Levi Singleton passes up more shots than anybody in the league. If he’d be ready to step into those shots more, he’d score a lot more because he’s that good of a shooter,” Blankenship said. “The shots he hit tonight were crucial.”
Of their 19 made two-point field goals, sophomore Levi Sampson made 12 of them while also knocking down seven-of-12 free throws to account for his game-high 31 points.
Sampson had 25 through the game’s first three quarters, scoring over half of the Bobcats’ points by the time the final buzzer sounded.
“Sampson inside, I don’t know what else you can say about the kid as a sophomore,” Blankenship said. “He understands about 40-percent of the game right now, when it fully clicks for him, it’s going to be scary. Putting up these numbers, and every time he comes down with a rebound or goes up to finish it seems like someone’s hanging all over him. But he’s still able to produce.”
Green, now at the .500-mark for the first time all season, will continue its season with a trip to Stewart on Saturday night to face No. 3-seed Federal Hocking.
The Lancers have the benefit of playing on their home court in the Division IV sectional championship tilt, and Blankenship says he believes the Bobcats will need their best performance of the season to come away with a win.
“We know we’re going to have to handle the pressure and take care of the basketball right off the bat. That’s something we’ve struggled with all year. Federal Hocking’s a really good basketball club — they got the No. 3-seed for a reason. We’re going to have to go and play our best game, and execute.”
Southern 12 7 18 19 — 56
Green 17 14 17 13 — 61
Isaac McCarty 0 0-0 0, Chase Bailey 1 1-2 3, Aiden Hill 0 0-0 0, Ryan Laudermilk 0 2-2 2, Tanner Lisle 0 0-0 0, Cade Anderson 3 0-0 9, Cruz Brinagfe 1 0-0 3, Luke Mullens 0 0-0 0, Lincoln Ross 8 0-1 16, Arrow Drummer 10 2-3 23; TOTALS 23 5-8 56; Three-point field goals: 5 (Cade Anderson 3, Cruz Brinagfe and Arrow Drummer 1 apiece)
GREEN 61 (10-10)
Levi Sampson 12 7-12 31, Ethan Huffman 3 1-3 7, Levi Blevins 0 1-3 1, Levi Waddell 0 0-0 0, Levi Singleton 4 0-0 12, Wiley Sanders 5 0-0 10; TOTALS 24 9-18 61; Three-point field goals: 4 (Levi Singleton 4)
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved