Boys Basketball Tops Southwood

Posted on January 11, 2018 in Boy's Basketball, Winter Sports

Senior Caleb Middlesworth tries to contend a shot vs. Southwood

CONVERSE – In their last visit to Oak Hill, the Southwood boys’ basketball team shocked the top-ranked team in the state. On Tuesday, they were one possession away from doing it again.

Leading 60-58 with 20.3 seconds left, the Knights were in-bounding while trying to withstand a furious rally from the hosts, who had trailed by as many as 15. However, Matthew Nose’s in-bound pass to Carson Blair would touch no one and bounce out of bounds, handing possession over to the Eagles.

Oak Hill seized the opportunity with Spencer Ballinger soaring in for an alley-oop lay-in to tie the game and eventually force overtime. The Eagles’ newfound momentum would carry them through the extra session and to an improbable 76-71.

“The kids were obviously very excited coming back the way they did against a very, very good basketball team,” Oak Hill head coach Kevin Renbarger said. “And they did have to execute some plays. You hope that it can springboard you, but with this group you just don’t know. Right now, it all comes down to consistency of play and execution.”

After seeing Carson Blair drill a long three-pointer with 4:33 left in the third quarter to put the Knights up 41-26, the Eagles slowly began chipping away at the lead.

Tyce Frank’s personal 6-0 run pulled the hosts to within seven, but Dallas Holmes responded with an acrobatic lay-up and a three-point play on consecutive possessions to extend the lead back to double digits.

A pair of Peyton Trexler free throws kept the Knights ahead 48-38 to open the fourth frame, but Oak Hill would use consecutive baskets from Caleb Middlesworth and Spencer Ballinger with just over five minutes remaining to pull within five.

Trexler would again stymie the run as his and-one opportunity on a fastbreak lay-up with 2:24 left put the visitors ahead 55-48.

Middlesworth would return the favor on the other end with an and-one of his own as the Knights traded a pair of free throws for two-point baskets over the next three possessions.

A Frank three-pointer pulled the Eagles to within three at 59-56 before Trexler split a pair of freebies with 44.4 seconds left.

Middlesworth would rebound a missed baseline jumper and his putback pulled the hosts with two at 60-58 ahead of the late-game turnover.

Blair would have a chance to win the game, but his deep three-pointer would hit back iron and bounce into the corner as the two sides settled for overtime.

Trexler and Holmes helped the Knights get off to a fast start in the extra session, but the Eagles continued with responses and Frank’s three-pointer with 1:55 left in overtime gave the Eagles’ their first lead of the night.

It would be a lead they wouldn’t relinquish, either, as the Knights’ struggles at the line, a problem that has reared its ugly head multiple time this season, came back to bite them on the night.

Nose and Trexler would each miss chances at the charity stripe in overtime as the Knights went 14-for-22 from the line in the fourth quarter and overtime combined.

Oak Hill, meanwhile, iced the game away at the line, hitting all but one of their nine free throw attempts in the final frame and overtime.

Holmes gave the Knights one last chance with a three-pointer to pull with 74-71 with 6.4 remaining, but Frank would knock down a pair of free throws with 5.1 seconds left to ensure his side a comeback win.

“For me, I’m really happy with how our kids battled Oak Hill,” Southwood head coach John Burrus said. “The winning and losing part of it, yeah you want to win, but you also need to understand we’re playing against a team that’s very good here at home. We made them play desperate at the end of the game to get that into overtime.

“We were one possession away from that game being over and we just couldn’t close them out. They kept coming. They hit big shots. It’s not easy to go out when you’re down to hit shots to get you back in it and they did.”

Southwood’s stumble to the finish line was all the harder to swallow for the visitors after its red-hot start.

Nose’s three-pointer and Trexler’s lay-up shot Southwood to an early 5-0 lead. Blair would knock down a fadeaway jumper from the elbow and a three-pointer to extend the lead to 10-3.

After Oak Hill’s first field goal from Arens, Ethen Roberts would convert a lay-up on the other end. Arens and Konner Cabe pulled the hosts to within three on back-to-back baskets, but Blair would soon erupt.

The senior would hit three three-pointers as part of an 11-2 run to close the quarter, giving Southwood a 23-11 lead.

The struggles continued offensively for Oak Hill as the Knights’ lead only grew in the second quarter, peaking at 29-15 after a Nose lay-up. Frank and Middlesworth would cut the margin to 10, but Trexler’s basket allowed the visitors to take a 31-19 lead into the locker room.

For Renbarger, his message to his side, who entered the game losers of three of their last four contests, was very clear at halftime.

“The conversation on defense was to actually try to play some and then on the offensive end, the entire focus and the entire conversation was, ‘The ball is going inside in the paint and there will be consequences if it doesn’t,’” he said. “I’m at the point now, obviously we were down 16, 17 points, what we were doing wasn’t working so they were either going to do it my way or I’m going to find somebody who is.

“But obviously it was successful (in the second half). We ended getting Nose in foul trouble, we shot 67 percent from the field and erased a 17-point lead. I don’t know what else you need to see.”

Ballinger accounted for each point in a 5-0 run to open the third and pull the Eagles to within seven, but Holmes and Blair would alternate lay-ups and three-pointers, the last of which forced a timeout from Renbarger with his side down 15 points.

Middlesworth led all scorers with 24 points while Ballinger and Frank had 16 apiece. Arens chipped in 14.

Blair and Trexler each had 22 for the Knights, but the former was limited to just two points over the final 15:27 of the contest. Holmes added 16 while Nose had seven after seeing limited action due to foul trouble.

For Burrus, despite late-game struggles from Trexler at the line, the senior’s execution late in the game was something he singled out after the game.

“…I was really proud of Trexler,” Burrus said. “Yeah, he missed some free throws, but I’ve never seen anybody hit all their free throws. Trexler, he went at them hard. When they were taking Blair away, he said in his mind, ‘I’m going to go hard to the basket, I’m going to make something happen.’ I thought Trexler really brought some things to us…and 22 points with the kind of size down low, I thought he did a nice job for us of getting inside.”

Burrus also talked about how Tuesday’s game will help his team moving forward, specifically in state tournament play at season’s end.

“It’ll help a bunch when we go to Lafayette Central Catholic for the sectional because this is the kind of environment we’re going to be dealing with,” he said. “These are the kind of games you never forget as a player. The crowd, the excitement of plays that are being made…you become a better player in games like this. There were so many moments where people had to make plays.”

Southwood falls to 8-3 with the loss while Oak Hill improved to 10-4. The Knights return to conference play on Friday with a home match against Whitko, a run of four-straight conference clashes. Tip-off for the game is set for 7:45 p.m.

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