WEST ALEXANDRIA — Twin Valley South’s boys’ basketball team has been playing better of late, having won five of its last six games — and four straight — heading into its Friday, Feb. 10, contest at Arcanum.
And it looked as if the Panthers were going to make it five straight, but South was unable to hold onto a fourth quarter lead and suffered a 60-53 loss in a Cross County Conference matchup.
Twin Valley South came out ready to play, hitting a pair of opening quarter 3-pointers from Jared Cottingim as well as contributing field goals from Jacob Wells.
Arcanum’s offense struggled to get anything going with most points being scored off offensive rebounds. Devin Burns hit two big 3’s. Evan Atchley contributing one as well to keep Arcanum within striking distance. The first quarter ended with a 15-10 South lead.
The second quarter was the same story as South continued its excellent ball movement. South built upon its lead with scoring across its roster with both starters and bench production being effective.
Arcanum still was fighting its offensive woes with Carter Gray firing two deep 3’s to limit the damage. However, it wasn’t enough to keep pace with Twin Valley South as the Panthers held a 33-21 halftime lead.
This game was certainly a tale of two halves.
The Trojans outscored the Panthers by 10 points, 17-7, in the third quarter with scoring across the board. It was clear the momentum had switched when the Trojans’ Wade Meeks drove to the basket with 28 seconds left and finished through the contact for an old-fashioned 3-point play.
The Panthers struggled offensively as Arcanum turned on the pressure with its man-to-man defense. The score at the end of the third was 40-38 with South still in the lead.
The final quarter of play showed the Trojans’ offensive capabilities as they scored 21 points and South ran out of steam trying to keep up with the fast-paced transition play Arcanum was bringing.
Gray went 2-of-4 from the free throw line and contributed another 3-pointer and another field goal as well in a well-executed fourth quarter. As the quarter neared its end, South still had a chance but its shots just weren’t falling like they were in the first half.
For South, Travis Lovely had 16 and both Mike Meyers and Willie Bowman contributed 10.
For Arcanum, Gray had 15 points and Meeks contributed 13.
South was coming off a 61-54 win over Bradford on Tuesday, Feb. 7 and a 48-45 win over Franklin-Monroe the previous Friday.
“We knew going in that FM was still hopeful of tying for the CCC title with an 8-1 league record and we were hoping to play the spoiler to that. They have the most highly-acclaimed sophomore in our conference in 6’2” Ethan Conley and a 6’9” senior center Kam Thurmond,” South coach Tony Augspurger said in an email. “We decided to chase Conley and our two guys who did that, Jared Cottingim and Jacob Wells, both did an excellent job and then our two guys in the middle of the zone, Andrew Augspurger and Travis Lovely, both did a great job of not letting Thurmond establish himself inside. We held Conley to 12 and Thurmond to five. I think for the second game in a row we rebounded with a great deal of determination. That has been something that has been holding us back, but the last two games we have gone after the ball with much more of a sense of purpose.
“Offensively, we took great care of the basketball. They mixed up what they were doing defensively and tossed some different pressure against us but we only turned the ball over eight times. Our record would be significantly better if we would have stayed in single digit turnovers more often … Travis Lovely was a beast on the O-boards with seven, finished well inside and shot his free throws well to lead us with 17. Mike Meyers as he has done all year led us with some big shots. He hit a three at the half time buzzer to give us our first lead at 23-21 and then hit a turnaround J with under a minute left to put us up to stay 46-45. Sophomore six man sensation Willie Bowman was gigantic. He hit back-to-back threes with us down eight in the second quarter to ignite us, and then went 4-4 from the line in the fourth and hit a monster three with us down 42-39 to tie it. All in all, it was a great team victory and kept our late season momentum rolling.”
Twin Valley South was scheduled to play Tuesday, Feb. 14, at home, against Carlisle and will close out the regular season on Saturday, Feb. 18, at Dayton Christian.
(Editor’s note: Information from the Greenville Daily Advocate was used in this story.)
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH