NEW BOSTON — It seemed only fitting that for the first time since their clash at the 2019 Division IV district semis, the New Boston Tigers and South Webster Jeeps would meet again with the opportunity to play in a another district title game on the line — exactly two years later.
That epic clash at the Convocation Center in Athens was won ultimately by the Tigers, just as Wednesday’s meeting inside Homer Pellegrinon Gymnasium was by a count of 62-44.
The host and top-seeded Tigers (21-2), after trailing 18-10 in the late stages of the opening period, would go on to outscore the visiting No. 8-seed Jeeps 52-26 over the final three periods and change — after limiting SW to just three made threes over that span.
“Emotional game, and really proud of our kids. I told them I thought if we took Webster’s best punch in the first half, then their legs would get a little tired from playing an up-tempo, physical game. Really proud of our defense especially in the first half, only committed five fouls in the first half of our two tournament games playing six kids,” NB coach Adam Cox said, after the win. “That’s great discipline and game-planning — we did not want them to shoot the bonus in the first half.”
South Webster connected on 4-of-8 made threes in the game’s opening period, but finished just 3-of-13 once New Boston switched defenses to play more man-to-man.
Tigers senior Tanner Voiers said that switching to man-to-man defense was part of the Tigers’ success after their early eight-point deficit.
“I thought we started out bad, let them get some open shots and they can definitely shoot it — especially (Jaren) Lower and (Trae) Zimmerman,” Voiers said. “I think the biggest thing was after they took that big lead, we talked in the huddle that we had to go man-to-man, force them into turnovers and stops and we did that. They’re a great team and we respect that, and they gave us a test in the first half. But we knew if we could get their wheels turning a bit, it could turn in our favor pretty quick.”
Voiers, who played his freshman and sophomore seasons at SW before transferring to New Boston for his final two seasons, played in his last game as a Jeep in that very titanic matchup in Athens two years prior.
The senior Tiger led all scorers on Wednesday with a game-high 19 points, including 10 in the second half.
“Tanner was so pumped up about this week, I thought he might be a little too pumped up. He’s got so many friends and family there at Webster and he attended there, and the last thing he wanted to do was let his old team beat us,” Cox said. “He wore his emotions on his sleeve and came to be a leader. When Tanner’s like that, we’re tough to beat.”
New Boston attempted just eight three-pointers for the course of the game, compared to the 21 from the Jeeps.
With their size advantage on the inside, Cox said the team’s gameplan of scoring from the interior was an emphasis throughout their weekend of preparation.
“We really stuck to our gameplan of what we wanted to do, and they bought in,” Cox said. “We took eight threes tonight. Pounded the ball in the paint, got to the basket, and went to the foul line. Did exactly what we wanted to do on offense and we were able to start breaking it away in the second half.”
South Webster (9-13) shot 18-of-55 from the field in the loss, and were outrebounded by the Tigers 35-24.
Kyle Sexton led NB with a game-high 14 rebounds to go along with his 15 points, four assists and three steals.
An important and-one conversion from sixth-man Brady Voiers just before halftime — and defensive performances by Grady Jackson, De’Von Jones and Chase Clark — helped bolster the Tigers lead and limit the Jeeps to a combined eight points in the second and fourth periods.
“Brady scored seven points in 17 minutes and played huge, huge minutes. Took a charge, multiple putbacks, had a big three-point play before half that gave us a lot of momentum,” Cox said. “You can’t say enough about Grady and ‘Von — I thought they really stepped up their defensive performance on Trae.”
“We’ve been working a lot on that lately, defense and rebounding,” Voiers said. “I thought we definitely brought it out in the quarters we needed it, but Saturday we can’t start out slow. We’ve gotta play defense first through the fourth.”
Trae Zimmerman and Jaren Lower led the Jeeps in scoring, each posting a team-high 13 points on five-made field goals.
SW graduates a lone senior in Lane Bond from their 2020-21 roster — as Bond indeed played in his final game as a Jeep, scoring a third-quarter bucket during his time off the bench as both teams somewhat battled foul trouble in the second half.
With the 18-point win, the No. 1 -seed Tigers advance to just their second Division IV district title game since 1985 — looking to secure the program’s second district championship win since 1960.
To do so, they’ll need to go through another Southern Ohio Conference Division II squad and their legendary coach — the Valley Indians and Norm Persin, the OHSAA’s all-time active coaching wins leader.
Tip time from Northwest High School is set for 7 p.m. on Saturday night (March 6) — as both Cox and Voiers said they’ll need to bring their A-game to come away with a berth in next week’s regional tournament.
“When you have an emotional win like this, I hope we’re able to get over it quick. This game was just the semifinal — the real prize is Saturday against Valley and what we have to do to beat them and prepare for their quickness, their guards, shooting,” Cox said. “We’re really going to have to hit the drawing board and come up with a good gameplan that gives us a chance for our second district championship in three seasons.”
“Valley’s a great team, great coach and we’re ready for the challenge. This means everything going to a district championship. I have a couple in soccer, but I haven’t gotten one in basketball,” Voiers said. “That Leesburg Fairfield banner, we still have it hanging up in the locker room because we fell short last year when we were supposed to make a run. We’re burning that thing tonight.”
* * *
South Webster 18 4 18 4 — 44
New Boston 11 20 14 17 — 62
SOUTH WEBSTER 44 (9-13)
Connor Bender 1 0-1 2, Trae Zimmerman 5 0-0 13, Jaren Lower 5 0-0 13, Cam Carpenter 2 0-0 5, Brady Blizzard 1 0-0 2, Myles Beasley 0 0-0 0, Zander Rawlins 0 1-2 1, Will Collins 3 0-0 6, Lane Bond 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 18 1-3 44; Three-point field goals: 7 (Trae Zimmerman and Jaren Lower 3 apiece, Cam Carpenter 1); Shooting: 18-55 (7-21 from 3-point); Rebounds: 24 (Trae Zimmerman and Brady Blizzard 6 apiece); Turnovers: 9; Steals 3
NEW BOSTON 62 (21-2)
De’Von Jones 3 2-2 8, Grady Jackson 2 1-1 5, Tanner Voiers 6 5-8 19, Kyle Sexton 5 5-10 15, Chase Clark 3 1-2 8, Brady Voiers 2 3-3 7; TOTALS 21 17-26 62; Three-point field goals: 3 (Tanner Voiers 2, Chase Clark 1); Shooting: 21-43 (3-8 from 3-point); Rebounds: 35 (Kyle Sexton 14); Turnovers: 8; Steals: 6
Reach Jacob Smith at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1930, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @JacobSmithPDT © 2020 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved