OAK HILL —Minford freshman Myles Montgomery, albeit briefly, played one offensive possession out of his shoe during the Falcons’ boys basketball season opener on Friday night.
However, truly from opening tip to final buzzer, Montgomery simply played out of his mind.
That’s correct, as Montgomery erupted for a game-high 29 points in his high school debut — splashing seven deuces and popping five treys —as Minford almost hit for 50 first-half points, as part of a 70-53 victory over Oak Hill inside the Oaks’ “Nuthouse”.
The contest also marked the Southern Ohio Conference Division II opener for both teams, as perhaps the Oaks were simply the first of what will be many opponents the highly-touted ninth-grade guard goes off on.
He hit for 15 first-half points, splitting six two-pointers in those two quarters — and made his first three-pointer with two-and-a-half minutes left in the initial canto.
Those 16 minutes saw him beat defenders off the dribble, whether on the baseline or down the lane.
In the third quarter, Montgomery made his presence known from deep —hitting four consecutive three-balls to make it 57-39, after the Oaks opened the period with seven straight points to cut their halftime deficit down to 43-36.
Finally, with 2:52 to play, the quick-as-a-cat Montgomery drove in for a left-handed layup for his 29th point and final field goal —making it 67-47, which tied the Falcons’ largest lead and which had previously been 59-39.
No doubt, the 5-10 speedy soccer forward and quality Falcon football placekicker continued his hot high school sports start.
And, while 6-4 senior Trenton Zimmerman and 6-6 junior Joe Hannah combined for 35 Minford points, nobody could ignore the electricity which Montgomery manufactured for the Falcons.
Montgomery made 12 of 21 shots for a fiery 57-percent, with nine of those attempts coming from beyond the arc.
He also tied Devin Parker for four assists, part of Minford’s 14 helpers on 30 total field goals — on 52 total attempts for a sizzling 58-percent.
“I’ve seen Myles his whole life. I wasn’t necessarily surprised he could do that, but for this to be his first varsity game, it was pretty incredible. But more credit to his teammates for making sure he had the ball,” said Minford coach Josh Shoemaker. “In the second half, Oak Hill came out and just jumped us. But Myles hitting those four threes in the third quarter, we needed those.”
Shoemaker also referenced two second-half plays involving Montgomery, which he highlighted were “two plays of the night” — and symbolic of the Falcons’ unselfishness.
Ethan Connally, instead of easily driving in for a tough transition layup, chose to jump-stop and pitch the ball back to Montgomery — for a winged and wide-open third-quarter three.
In the fourth frame, Montgomery had an opportunity at a layup and a 30-plus point game — but he lobbed the ball to Zimmerman for his final field goal of eight, and 20 total points.
Zimmerman finished with eight total field goals on 13 shots including a pair of second-stanza triples, and made two of his three foul shots — plus pulling down a team-high nine rebounds.
Hannah hit for 15 points on seven buckets and seven shot attempts, and the other Falcon free throw and three attempts —as Parker (first quarter), Connally (second quarter) and Jeffrey Pica (fourth quarter) posted one basket apiece.
“Our kids were completely unselfish all night, but we don’t care who scores, as long as we get the win,” said Shoemaker.
The athletic, tall and wing-spanned Falcons forged ahead with a half-court at midcourt trapping defense, turning Oak Hill turnovers into eight steals —and subsequently points.
The Oaks shot just 6-of-20 (30-percent) from three-point range, were out-rebounded 30-20 including 23-13 defensively, and quickly fell behind 16-10 following the Falcons’ nine unanswered points in the opening quarter.
“When we switched to the trap, Ethan Connally and Joe Hannah came in and really started to speed it up and get us some possessions,” said Shoemaker. “As the game went on, our length played a role, we got some high-low looks, got a lot of assists tonight, and kids shared the ball well.”
An Aidan Hall jumper with three-and-a-half minutes left in the first salvo made it 10-7 —which was Oak Hill’s largest lead.
Braylon Howell hit his first of three threes to make it 16-13 two minutes and 10 tics later, but the Oaks got no closer the rest of the way —despite scoring the first seven points of the third frame.
On the strength of 21 and 22-point opening quarters, the Falcons held advantages of 43-29 at halftime and 59-40 following the third.
“I was pleased with our execution and effort, and now that we know we can compete better, we need to clean some things up. They put Hannah out on top of that trap, and they have three guys on the floor at 6-3 or better. It’s a hard thing to match when you are smaller like we are, and can’t quite match it out front,” said OHHS coach Heath McKinniss. “I thought we did a good job of settling in and trying to get to the ball under the middle and into the high post, got some buckets and knocked down some threes, but we just didn’t make the plays right when we needed to and their players did.”
Howell (five total field goals and 1-of-2 free throws) and Hall (seven field goals) had 14 points apiece to pace Oak Hill, as Kade Kinzel (three total field goals and 2-of-2 free throws) and Evan Fisher (three field goals and 4-of-5 free throws) finished with 10 points apiece.
Kinzel and Howell hit threes inside the second quarter’s final two minutes to immediately answer Zimmerman’s two triples, which gave the Falcons their largest leads of the opening half at 40-23 and 43-26.
Baskets by Hall and Fisher, followed by Kinzel’s second of two trifectas, finally got the Oaks back to within 43-36 — only a minute and 55 seconds into the second half.
But a Howell corner three with a minute-and-a-half left, and a split of Fisher free throws, were the Oaks’ only other third-period points.
All told, Minford held Oak Hill scoreless for a critical four-minute and 35-second stretch.
The same span in which Montgomery made his four straight threes, and simply played out of his mind.
“He is a special freshman. He is really is,” said McKinniss. “Him and Zimmerman and Hannah, they are just really difficult to guard. They run their stuff, they are well-coached, and they are just very good.”
The Oaks are indeed improved under the second-year mentor McKinniss, who replaced the legendary Norm Persin at Oak Hill — after serving seven seasons on his staff.
So Shoemaker is well-aware of Friday’s important triumph, in which Montgomery made quite the impressive debut.
“It’s a good first win for us. Coach McKinniss gets everything he can out of those kids. We had to work for everything we got,” said Shoemaker. “Oak Hill came out in the second half and really smacked us in the mouth, but luckily we woke up and Myles made four threes and got it going again.”
The Falcons return to the road, and return to SOC II action on Tuesday night, at archrival Valley.
Minford 21 22 16 11— 70
Oak Hill 15 14 11 13 — 53
MINFORD 70 (1-0, 1-0 SOC II)
Trenton Zimmerman 8 2-3 20, Joe Hannah 7 1-3 15, Adam Crank 0 0-0 0, Myles Montgomery 12 0-0 29, Devin Parker 1 0-0 2, Bailey White 0 0-0 0, Jeffrey Pica 1 0-0 2, Luke Oakes 0 0-0 0, Ethan Connally 1 0-0 2; TOTALS 30 3-6 70; Three-point field goals: (Myles Montgomery 5, Trenton Zimmerman 2)
OAK HILL 53 (1-1, 0-1 SOC II)
Connor Clark 1 0-0 2, Braylon Howell 5 1-2 14, Kade Kinzel 3 2-2 10, Nathan Hall 0 0-0 0, Aidan Hall 7 0-2 14, Gavin Howell 1 0-0 3, Blade Reese 0 0-0 0, Reagan Michael 0 0-0 0, Evan Fisher 3 4-5 10; TOTALS 20 7-11 53; Three-point field goals: 6 (Braylon Howell 3, Kade Kinzel 2, Gavin Howell 1)
Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at email@example.com, or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2021 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved