PREBLE COUNTY — National Trail’s boys’ basketball team picked up a pair of Cross County Conference wins last week, to remain unbeaten and atop the CCC. The Blazers are 5-0 in the conference and 11-2 overall.
The Blazers’ CCC victories last week included wins over Miami East and Covington. They closed out the week with a one-point loss to Brookville, only their second loss of the season.
NT opened with a 54-44 win over Miami East on Tuesday, Jan. 7. The Blazers had to rally after a tough first quarter as Miami East jumped out to a 16-9 advantage. Wyatt House hit three, 3-pointers in the second quarter to get the Blazers back in the game. NT took a 27-25 lead at halftime.
NT built on that lead in the third period, leading 38-33 going into the final quarter and came away with a 10-point win.
Zach Woodall led the team with 19 points and added eight rebounds. Cameron Harrison had 14 points and eight assists. Tyler Weathington added 12 points and 10 rebounds.
On Friday, the Blazers got off to a better start as they defeated Covington, 54-36. Trail led at the end of the first quarter 13-10, and had a double-digit lead going into the locker room at halftime, 35-23.
Harrison paced the Blazers with 27 points, followed by Woodall with 12. Weathington pulled down eight rebounds.
On Saturday NT lost to Brookville, 57-56, only their second loss of the season. The first came against Versailles the previous week, 63-60.
Brookville came out strong to open the game, jumping out to a 13-1 lead. The Blazers, however, battled back and pulled to within three points by the end of the first quarter, and led 27-25 at halftime. NT kept the advantage going into the fourth quarter, up 43-38, but the Blue Devils kept the game close.
“We were able to get the lead to as much as eight early in the fourth,” NT coach Mike Harrison said, “but Brookville kept hitting big shots to stay in it.
“We had a few empty possessions down the stretch which allowed them to keep pecking away at the lead and they finally took the lead at 55-54.”
According to Harrison, a Woodall basket with 20 seconds left to play put the Blazers up by one point. But Brookville’s Daniel Dominique banked in a contested jumper in the paint with 4.9 seconds left which proved to be the game winner.
“We got a good look at the basket at the end but just couldn’t get it to fall.”
Woodall led with 25 points and Cameron Harrison 20. Coleton Everman grabbed 11 rebounds.
Trail is scheduled to play at Bethel on Friday, Jan. 17 and will meet Middletown Madison in the King Classic on Sunday, Jan. 19 at Wade E. Miller Gym at Middletown High School. Tip-off is set for 4:45 p.m.
Arrows knock off Madison
Preble Shawnee continued its move to get back into the race in the Southwestern Buckeye League’ Buckeye Division with a 77-60 win over Madison on Friday, Jan. 10.
The Arrows were led by senior Sam Agee’s 31 points, six rebounds and five assists.
“He controlled the game from start to finish and went 8 for 8 on free throws in the fourth quarter to close it out. His leadership and decision making was very good,” Shawnee coach Dale Spitler Jr. said.
Gunner Powers added 17, including several NBA range three-pointers to keep the momentum going. Jake Green finished with 12 on 4 of 8 three-point shooting.
“Our defense did a nice job limiting their good looks and we rebounded well considering their size. We knew Grant Whisman would be a problem and he was. He’s a heck of a player,” Spitler Jr. said.
With the win, Shawnee improved to 4-2 in the Buckeye Division and and 6-5 overall. Madison dropped to 10-2 overall and 4-2 in division.
“We have been playing good basketball lately and this stretch of Oakwood, Milton-Union, Franklin, and Madison has really put the pressure on us and made us figure out things quickly,” Spitler Jr. said. “Our guys have responded nicely to this point and we hope to keep it going Tuesday night (Jan. 14) at league leading and 10-2 overall Waynesville.”
Earlier in the week, Shawnee let a 17-point lead slip away and fell to visiting Franklin 69-63.
Agee led the Arrows with 21 points, nine rebounds and four assists. Bryce Singleton scored 16 and grabbed eight rebounds.
Powers tossed in 13 and had nine rebounds and five steals.
The Arrows were scheduled to play at Waynesville on Tuesday, Jan. 14. They will host Dixie on Friday and travel to Tri-County North on Saturday.
Eagles clipped by Franklin
Eaton couldn’t hold onto a double-digit second half lead and dropped a 76-73 decision at Franklin on Friday, Jan. 10. Eaton coach Denny Shepherd said it was one of the best, if not the best game his team has played all season.
Eaton was hampered by foul trouble all game as four players fouled out and two others finished the game with four fouls and the Wildcats took advantage by going to the foul line 51 times, making 33. Eaton attempted 24 free throws and connected on 16.
The Eagles took a 52-41 lead in the fourth quarter, but was outscored 35-212. Shepherd said a key the game was a 9-0 run by the Wildcats midway through the final quarter.
A pair of Eaton turnovers led to back-to-back 3-pointers for the Wildcats. The Eagles then missed a layup which turned into an old-fashioned three-point play at the other end for Franklin. From there Eaton struggled to maintain the momentum.
Junior Travis Pittman led Eaton with 23 points. Junior Trevor Long scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds.Senior Hunter Frost tossed in 13 points, while added eight rebounds and handing out five assists.
Eaton (5-8, 1-5 SWBL Southwestern Division) was scheduled to host Brookville on Tuesday, Jan. 14. They will travel to Oakwood on Friday and will host Greenville on Saturday.
South gets first win
Twin Valley South’s Levi Gearhart hit probably the biggest shot of his high school career to lift the Panthers to a 38-36 win over Ansonia on Friday.
After his team let a double-digit lead to start the fourth quarter vanish with just over a minute left in the game, Gearhart knocked down a 3-pointer from the left corner to put his team back in front by two with 42 second left.
Junior Brayden Marker then sealed the win by blocking the Tigers last ditch 3-point attempt as time expired.
South, which led 8-5 after the first quarter and 21-12 at the half, still led 29-18 lead after three quarters.
The Panthers were led by Cole Petersen’s 12 points. Gearhart finished with nine as did Ryan DeLong.
With the win, South snapped a 12-game losing streak.
“One of the truths of sports is that winning and losing are habits,” South coach Tony Augspurger said. “And to break the habit of being the team that finds ways to lose is a tough habit to break. When you’ve been finding ways to lose the whole year it’s hard to break that habit. It takes something special in order to do that.”
Augspurger said Gearhart’s shot wasn’t a surprise.
“He has struggled confidence wise and has slowly been eking his was back. We thought Levi was going to be our best stand and shoot shooter going into the year,” Augspurger said. “That’s a shot we were thinking he was going to be a pretty good shooter on. He shot it with a great deal of guts and confidence. He didn’t have any hesitation. It didn’t hit anything but cord. It was beautiful.”
On Tuesday, Jan. 7, South fell to Bethel 52-50.
South (1-12) was scheduled to host Dayton Christian on Tuesday, Jan. 14. The Panthers will travel to Tri-Village on Friday and to Brookville on Saturday.
North splits with Covington, Bethel
Tri-County North held on for a 50-49 overtime win over Covington on Tuesday, then dropped a heart breaker to Bethel on Friday.
“We played this week undermanned,” North coach Joe Smith said. “We played some great defense In the first half only allowing 19 points.”
North held a 27-19 halftime lead.
“But again, for some reason, we decided to allow them back in the game and we were tied at the end of the third. (In) the fourth quarter we were back and forth,” Smith said.
Junior Dylan Stinson led the Panthers with a career-high 32 points.
“Friday night we played Bethel and we were not as lucky in a very similar game,” Smith said. (We) played with only six players due to multiple reasons.”
North trailed 20-19 at the half and led by seven with three minutes left in the game
“Unfortunately our inability to rebound hurt us,” Smith said.
Bethel hit the game-winning shot with 11 seconds left.
The Panthers had two chances at the end, but came up short.
Smith said his team missed free throws in the final minutes that could have sealed the game.
Stinson led North with 22 points. Luke Eby added 10.
North (5-6, 2-4 CCC) was scheduled to host Yellow Springs on Tuesday, Jan. 14 and will travel to Ansonia on Friday before closing out the week by hosting Preble Shawnee.
(Editor’s note: R-H editor Eddie Mowen Jr. contributed to this story)