Falcons fall late to Tigers


Waverly wins 48-44 in defensive epic

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



Minford senior Ethan Connally (44) launches a three-point shot during the Falcons’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball game against Waverly on Friday night.

Minford senior Ethan Connally (44) launches a three-point shot during the Falcons’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball game against Waverly on Friday night.


Courtesy of Brad Prall | Pike County News-Watchman

Minford freshman Myles Montgomery (10) is guarded by Waverly’s Trey Robertson (4) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball game at Waverly’s Downtown Arena.


Courtesy of Brad Prall | Pike County News-Watchman

WAVERLY — The Minford Falcons almost led wire-to-wire at Waverly on frigid Friday night.

In addition, the Falcons almost got to the desired free-throw bonus situation — and ultimately, ALMOST, forged a tie in the loss column atop the Southern Ohio Conference Division II.

The operative word, of course, was “almost”.

That’s because the league-leading, talented and highly-touted Tigers took their only lead over Minford with 32 fateful seconds remaining —and made it stand up with a series of defensive stops in the final 30 tics.

As a result, Waverly prevailed in an intense defensive epic inside its historic and fantastic Downtown Arena —winning 48-44, and taking a full two-game loss-column advantage over both Minford and Valley in this truly unpredictable and cutthroat conference.

That’s right.

While Waverly lost at Minford 64-58 on Dec. 10 for its only SOC II setback, and only other loss except for Division I powers Upper Arlington (59-50 on Dec. 30) and Newark (60-56 in OT on Dec. 18), the Tigers are now two losses clear of the Lucasville-Minford Road rivals —which split their season series, while South Webster vanquished Valley on Friday night 52-50 (see related story).

In other words, Waverly leads the league at 9-1 —while Valley (8-3 SOC II) holds a half-game lead on Minford (7-3 SOC II), following Friday night’s affairs.

Before Waverly won over Oak Hill (66-27) on Saturday in an SOC II makeup matchup, both the Tigers and Falcons stood at 11-3 overall.

But the Falcons did indeed have the Tigers on the ropes —definitely through three quarters anyway.

Despite three ties at 18-18, 20-20 and finally 44-44, the Falcons never trailed —until the Tigers tallied the final eight points over the final two minutes and 13 seconds.

The Falcons’ largest advantage stood at six points three times —including twice in the opening stanza at 10-4 and 12-6, and finally following three frames at 38-32.

To be honest, it was a physical, hotly-contested and nip-and-tuck rockfight with a bevy of uncalled contact —where the officials whistled only three first-half fouls on both squads, and six on the Tigers in the second half while the Falcons were called for five.

Waverly veteran coach Travis Robertson admitted as much.

“They (Falcons) are so long and physical, and if the game is not being called tight, it plays to their advantage around the rim. I thought it played to their advantage tonight,” said Robertson. “They (officials) didn’t call a whole lot and let us play on both ends.”

Minford coach Josh Shoemaker concurred, as the Falcons desperately tried to force a seventh or more second-half foul on Waverly —which would have put them in the one-and-one bonus situation.

But that never happened, and the Falcons only shot five free throws —despite the likes of scoring machines Trenton Zimmerman and Myles Montgomery making moves to the basket and attempting to draw contact.

The senior Zimmerman only shot three first-half freebies and converted an old-fashioned three-point play, while fellow senior Devin Parker converted 2-of-2 in the third.

Montgomery, the outstanding Falcon freshman, never did see the charity stripe on Friday night.

“It got physical, and we tried to get to the bonus by working the ball and making aggressive moves to the rim, but we couldn’t get there (bonus),” said Shoemaker. “We missed a lot of shots there that were good shots, even layups under a minute. And Waverly was able to hit some shots at their end.”

Especially the Tigers’ senior standout and all-time career scoring leader Trey Robertson.

The defending Southeast District Division II Player of the Year and first-team all-Ohioan poured in a game-high 19 points —including half of his eight total field goals in the fourth quarter alone.

First, he tied the tilt at 44-44 with a minute-and-a-half remaining — with an acrobatic up-and-under move that followed a Will Futhey blocked shot of Montgomery on the other end, and Robertson rebounding and racing off in transition.

Then, on a Joe Hannah for Minford miss, Robertson rebounded and drove all the way —leaping and lofting and scoring from the lane’s left side with 32 seconds showing.

The Falcons faced now a first-time deficit, but had 30 seconds in which to play for the tie —or even attempt and connect for the game-winning three-pointer.

But Parker missed an off-balance elbow jumper, then Montgomery misfired from the wing with a three-ball — as Ethan Connally corralled an offensive rebound with 5.2 seconds left.

Shoemaker called a timeout, drawing up a high-low post play perhaps —which is what Coach Robertson speculated Minford might try.

However, Parker’s pass on the inbounds attempt was intercepted by the defensive end in football Futhey, who passed ahead upfloor to Hudson Kelly — and whose lay-in beat the buzzer for the dramatic 48-44 final.

“They called timeout to set something up, but we wanted to make it as difficult as possible for them to get it in. So we went faceguard and tried to switch screens. He (Parker) was wanting to go right, and the ball was coming left, and Will (Futhey) was right there and stepped in front,” said the coach.

It was Waverly’s sixth consecutive victory in fact, and one in which Robertson added that his Tigers indeed found a way to win.

“They were whoopin’ us. Seriously, they came out and came right at us. We didn’t have an answer early. The Zimmerman kid was a load, kicked our rear ends on the glass and they owned the paint. It was tough through three quarters there. But what makes this group special is that even though we made a lot of mistakes and did a lot of things poorly, we continue to keep fighting and working,” he said. “Ultimately, in the end, we were able to pull it out by getting stops and then getting into transition, and that’s why you play all 32 minutes.”

That defensive-turned-into-offensive mindset changed, the coach continued, around the five-minute mark of the third quarter —and with the Falcons leading anywhere from one to five points.

Waverly threw a triangle-and-two faceguard at Zimmerman and Montgomery, as Zimmerman had scored 11 first-half points —including five baskets.

After Adam Crank canned his third — and the Falcons’ third — three of the game to make it 38-32, the Tigers outscored them by 10 (16-6) in the final canto.

Zimmerman scored just two fourth-quarter points for his team-high 15, while Montgomery only amounted eight points — four in each half.

Montgomery struggled shooting, going 4-of-17 from the field including 0-of-5 from three-point territory —part of a team 37-percent (19-of-51), but only 19-percent (3-of-16) from beyond the arc.

“I thought we attacked well all night. We really wanted Myles to get to the rim, and we were disappointed we weren’t able to get more opportunities to get them in foul trouble. Waverly was guarding hard, with two of them (defenders) on Myles coming off ball screens, or Trenton if he had the ball in the post with three or four guys going at him,” said Shoemaker. “You’re not going to see many teams that are as aggressive defensively as Waverly is.”

Or willing to take such risks.

“We decided to take a gamble about three minutes into the third quarter, go to an inverted triangle, faceguard Myles (Montgomery) and (Trenton) Zimmerman, and try to make things real difficult on them to even catch the basketball and get to the blocks. We wanted to force other guys to take shots. I thought it worked,” said Coach Robertson. “We got four or five straight possessions where they had misses, and it catapulted into our transition. When you have us moving in transition, that’s when we’re our best.”

Crank (nine points) connected for triples in the opening two periods as well, while Connally equaled Montgomery with eight points.

Zimmerman nearly notched a double-double with nine rebounds.

Zimmerman was defended by the six-foot-five Futhey for the majority, who actually scored 16 points on eight field goals — despite his overly-difficult defensive assignment.

The Tigers tallied three threes as well —one apiece by Braylon Robertson, Trey Robertson and Mark Stulley —and three free throws, with Trey Robertson recording a second-stanza 2-of-2.

The Robertson brothers’ father, Travis, said Friday night’s series splitter with the Falcons “feels pretty good”.

“Minford was our only other loss. To get it back, you’re talking about putting yourself in a good spot for the league (championship),” he said.

Shoemaker said simply shots not falling was indeed the difference —and the end result ALMOST going Minford’s way.

“I told our guys that they played really hard to come up here and play with a chance to be in first-place in the league. Late in the game, and there at the end, great players make plays and they made a couple more than we did. Our kids executed the gameplan, played hard, rebounded the ball well and attacked the rim hard. We just missed a lot of shots at the rim. The last possession, we had a shot to win, but we had a turnover,” said Shoemaker. “Would have been nice to execute that and get the look we wanted. It was just a great game here at their place. To lose by four, we just have to regroup and move ahead.”

* * *

Minford 14 13 11 6 —44

Waverly 9 17 6 16 — 48

MINFORD (11-3, 7-3 SOC II)

Trenton Zimmerman 7 1-3 15, Joe Hannah 0 0-0 0, Adam Crank 3 0-0 9, Myles Montgomery 4 0-0 8, Devin Parker 3 2-2 8, Ethan Connally 2 0-0 4; TOTALS 19 3-5 44; Three-point field goals: 3 (Adam Crank 3)

WAVERLY (11-3, 9-1 SOC II)

Mark Stulley 1 1-2 4, Hudson Kelly 2 0-0 4, Trey Robertson 8 2-2 19, Wade Futhey 0 0-0 0, Braylon Robertson 1 0-0 3, Penn Morrison 1 0-2 2, Will Futhey 8 0-1 16; TOTALS 21 3-7 48; Three-point field goals: 3 (Mark Stulley, Trey Robertson and Braylon Robertson 1 apiece)

Minford senior Ethan Connally (44) launches a three-point shot during the Falcons’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball game against Waverly on Friday night.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/01/web1_Minford-Wavery-Connally-1.jpegMinford senior Ethan Connally (44) launches a three-point shot during the Falcons’ Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball game against Waverly on Friday night. Courtesy of Brad Prall | Pike County News-Watchman

Minford freshman Myles Montgomery (10) is guarded by Waverly’s Trey Robertson (4) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball game at Waverly’s Downtown Arena.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/01/web1_Minford-Waverly-Montgomery-1-1.jpegMinford freshman Myles Montgomery (10) is guarded by Waverly’s Trey Robertson (4) during Friday night’s Southern Ohio Conference Division II boys basketball game at Waverly’s Downtown Arena. Courtesy of Brad Prall | Pike County News-Watchman
Waverly wins 48-44 in defensive epic

By Paul Boggs

[email protected]

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Paul Boggs at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1926, by email at [email protected], or on Twitter @paulboggssports © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved