West wins over Mohawks in sectional


Senators take rubber match with Mohawks

By Paul Boggs - [email protected]



West junior Ryan Sissel (23) goes up for a layup against Northwest senior Austin Newman (20) during Tuesday night’s Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal game at West High School.

West junior Ryan Sissel (23) goes up for a layup against Northwest senior Austin Newman (20) during Tuesday night’s Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal game at West High School.


Courtesy of Joey Shupert

West senior Jesse Dixon (10) drives to the basket during the Senators’ Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal game against Northwest on Tuesday night at West High School.


Courtesy of Joey Shupert

WEST PORTSMOUTH — They say that two out of three isn’t bad.

For the West Senators, and in their season series against an archrival in the Northwest Mohawks, Tuesday night’s sectional tournament triumph was indeed a good thing for them.

It can also be easily argued, despite slaying some Fairland Dragons back on Dec. 29, that Tuesday’s tilt —and its outcome —was West’s most valuable victory of the year to date.

That’s because the Senators’ sectional championship bout is actually a return trip to the Dragons’ lair —after West went wire-to-wire in defeating the visiting Mohawks 51-37 in a Division III sectional semifinal.

That’s correct —as now 9-12 and 15th-seeded West, which stunned Fairland 56-53 in that non-league meeting between Christmas and New Year’s, will play for a second consecutive sectional championship, with last year’s being the first for the program since 1998.

As for facing the Mohawks a third time, it was going to be much different than the initial two matchups —the first of which was a 62-27 West runaway, as Northwest was without standout sophomore Connor Lintz and the Senators without six-foot three-inch senior scoring machine Jesse Dixon.

Northwest — now 8-12 — won the second contest 52-42, and entered Tuesday having played better basketball in the month of February.

But this time, the young Mohawks ran into the Senators’ active half-court zone —as West never trailed, tallied the opening 10 points, blanked Northwest for the first five minutes and 10 seconds, allowed only four third-period points, and finally led by at least 18 points four times over the final eight minutes and 23 seconds.

While West pretty much had everything going its way, Northwest never got closer after the opening 6:39 than quarter-end deficits of 13-9 (first) and 27-21 (second).

The Mohawks rallied with seven straight points over a minute-and-a-half to trail 10-7, but Dixon dialed up one of his two first-half trees with 38 seconds left in the opening stanza —and Northwest never got closer than 13-9 from there.

While West lacks the size and depth it had a year ago in excelling at its 1-3-1 full-court zone press, it’s half-court look was the difference this time around.

“We can still cause fits in it (zone defense) whenever we play it hard. It’s an exhausting defense when we play it hard, because of the demands we have with it. You have to rotate a lot of guys with it and keep guys fresh,” said West coach Caleb McClanahan.

The Senators’ significant damage done to Northwest’s comeback bid came in the third frame —when West outscored the Mohawks 16-4.

Brayden Campbell converted a basket just a minute and four seconds in, but Northwest never scored another field goal in the salvo —instead only getting a pair of splits on foul shots by Lintz.

By those junctures, back-to-back baskets by Ryan Sissel —off back-to-back Noah Coleman steals —had the Senators extending their lead to double digits at 34-23.

Sissel scored on a drive a minute later at the 4:13 mark, and the Mohawk deficit didn’t drop below a dozen from that point on.

McClanahan said his Senators should understand situational basketball, and did a better job of finishing off the third quarter — than they did the second.

“That was a big stretch there. We didn’t finish the first half well. We were up 10, wanted to get it up to at least 14, and instead they cut it to six (27-21). We talked at halftime about the situation, so it was big for us to grow on that lead,” said the coach. “By the third quarter, our defense can get exhausting. The longer a team sees it, it can wear on you the longer the game goes on.”

And, the larger the Senator lead can grow.

West held 18-point advantages at the end of the third (43-25), then muddled through a lolly-gag fourth frame — in which neither club scored for the opening four minutes and 41 seconds.

The Senators secured three more 18-point leads —at 45-27, at 47-29, and finally 49-31 with a minute and 11 tics remaining.

Northwest coach Rick Scarberry said simply that his Mohawks struggled from start to finish, highlighted by their inability to make shots against the Senators’ zone.

And, unfortunately for the Mohawks, “we came out flat all three times against these guys”.

“We get behind the eight-ball and then you have to battle to get back in the game. We probably missed 14 shots from two or three feet. Missed a lot of shots that we’ve been making and we weren’t as sharp defensively as we needed to be,” said Scarberry. “We had guys that just didn’t play well tonight. We’ve been playing well, but tonight we didn’t. We didn’t value the ball, we threw it all over the place and did things we don’t teach. We did things tonight that you don’t do if you’re going to be successful at any level. We worked hard in practice, but tonight we just weren’t mentally ready to go. They came at us, and we didn’t respond.”

Perhaps Northwest appeared to finally find its footing late in the opening half —when it sliced a 27-14 deficit in half over the final 2:20.

With West leading 21-14 at the four-minute mark of the second canto, Dixon drained his other three-point goal —and Sissel attacked the Mohawk zone with an inside old-fashioned three-point play.

The Mohawks scored the final seven points of the quarter, but Coleman’s corner-pocket three-ball 30 seconds into the third made it 30-21 —and Northwest never was within seven points again.

A key reason why was West stymieing Northwest to only four third-period points.

“We have lulls, but that’s because we miss layups,” said Scarberry. “Third quarter, I think we missed seven. That’s 14 points, so going into the fourth quarter, instead of being down two or four or maybe even up two, we’re down 16.”

Speaking of 16, that’s how many points Dixon dropped in —tying Tanner Bolin of Northwest for game-high honors.

Dixon netted a dozen in the opening half, as Sissel and Coleman chipped in nine points each — on four field goals including a trifecta.

“We challenged Jesse, and I thought he just went out there tonight and just played, and didn’t get into that side stuff with somebody trying to be so physical with him and face-guarding him,” said McClanahan. “The last game, the (Brayden) Campbell kid was real physical with him, and Jesse just kept looking for calls. This game, I was proud of how tough Jesse was mentally throughout.”

Jeffery Bishop scored six of his eight in West’s fourth frame —as Cole Tipton (first quarter), Mitchell Irwin (second) and Jake Davis (second) all made two-point baskets, with Brennan Overby adding a third-period three.

The three standout sophomores for the Mohawks —Bolin, Lintz (eight points) and Jay Jenkins (seven) —combined for all but six of their 37 points.

But Northwest’s shooting struggles — and some defensive breakdowns — hindered in their second loss at West this season, and unfortunately for the Mohawks —their elimination from the tournament.

The Senators held a 22-12 advantage in total field goals, despite the Mohawks meshing 10-of-16 free throws.

“We missed some easy shots and that was the difference in the game,” said Scarberry. “And we missed some defensive assignments, losing guys on hedges (off screens). When that happens, because West has a good group and knows where to be, it’s just tough. We played gym class basketball tonight.”

Northwest will travel to Wheelersburg on Tuesday night for its regular-season and SOC II finale, while West will travel to second-seeded Fairland for Friday night’s sectional championship.

Tip time is set for 7 p.m. inside the Carl York Center —as the Senators seek to upset the Dragons, the seven-time Ohio Valley Conference champions, for a second time in two months.

Indeed, in this instance, two out of two would not be bad at all.

“We beat Fairland right before the New Year, and right before we had that COVID break and we were playing really good basketball at that time. Our defense was outstanding that game,” said McClanahan. “We gave them a lot of fits, forced them to take tough shots, and our physicality really wore on them. This time, we need to do a lot of the same. Make them take tough shots, contest those threes, be physical with them, and not allow anything in the paint.”

* * *

Northwest 9 12 4 12 —37

West 13 14 16 8 — 51

NORTHWEST 37 (8-12)

Connor Lintz 2 4-6 8, Caleb Lewis 0 0-0 0, Zane Fry 0 0-0 0, Jay Jenkins 3 1-2 7, Brayden Campbell 1 0-0 2, Tanner Bolin 5 4-4 16, Austin Newman 0 0-0 0, Kory Butler 1 0-0 3, Evan Amburgey 0 0-0 0, Alex Baer 0 0-2 0, Federico Lentini 0 1-2 1; TOTALS 12 10-16 37; Three-point field goals: 3 (Tanner Bolin 2, Kory Butler 1)

WEST 51 (9-12)

Jack Jordan 0 0-0 0, Trevor Fike 0 0-0 0, Jesse Dixon 7 0-1 16, Jeffery Bishop 3 2-2 8, Cole Tipton 1 0-0 2, Noah Coleman 4 0-0 9, Mitchell Irwin 1 0-0 2, Ryan Sissel 4 0-0 9, Eli Sayre 0 0-0 0, Brennan Overby 1 0-0 3, Jake Davis 1 0-1 2; TOTALS 22 2-4 51; Three-point field goals: 4 (Jesse Dixon 2, Noah Coleman and Ryan Sissel 1 apiece)

West junior Ryan Sissel (23) goes up for a layup against Northwest senior Austin Newman (20) during Tuesday night’s Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal game at West High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/02/web1_NW-West-Boys-Sissel-.jpgWest junior Ryan Sissel (23) goes up for a layup against Northwest senior Austin Newman (20) during Tuesday night’s Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal game at West High School. Courtesy of Joey Shupert

West senior Jesse Dixon (10) drives to the basket during the Senators’ Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal game against Northwest on Tuesday night at West High School.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/02/web1_NW-West-Boys-Dixon.jpgWest senior Jesse Dixon (10) drives to the basket during the Senators’ Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal game against Northwest on Tuesday night at West High School. Courtesy of Joey Shupert
Senators take rubber match with Mohawks

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