WAVERLY – The Southern Ohio Conference produced one of the better rivalries in all of southeast Ohio on Tuesday night, as Coach Tom Barrick took his Wheelersburg Pirates on a road trip to Waverly.
In a rugged, physical, defensive struggle, it was Wheelersburg that used some late first half heroics and a solid second half on the defensive end to hold off any chance of a Waverly comeback as the ‘Burg earned a 50-37 SOC victory.
Waverly played a solid first quarter that ended in 10-10 tie. The Tigers were able to hold Wheelersburg’s top scorer, Drew Spradlin to two points on only two shot attempts in the first eight minutes, and Waverly guard, Trevor Arnett dialed up two triples to help pace the Tigers in the opening period.
Waverly then struck first in quarter number two when Ramone Conley hit freshman Harrison Martin for a bucket – a bucket that gave Waverly its only lead of the game at 12-10 – but the two-point advantage would be short lived as Wheelersburg scored nine of the game’s next 11 points sparked by a Dustin Cook three-pointer from the left wing as well as an awakened Spradlin. Spradlin, a versatile 6-5 scorer, scored on three straight possessions during the run.
With Wheelersburg threatening to break it open, Waverly’s Trevor Walls responded with some much needed offense. Walls scored on back-to-back possessions to cut the lead to 21-18 and following a bucket from Wheelersburg’s Matt Jenkins the score stood at 23-18 when the final six seconds of the half proved to be a huge momentum swing heading to the intermission.
The Waverly offensive possession unfolded with the Tigers going inside to Walls and the senior turned and earned what at first seemed to be a chance for an old-fashion three; however, the whistle was for an offensive foul on Walls. To add salt to the Waverly wound, Jenkins took the inbound with 4.3 seconds left in the half and sliced the Waverly press getting off a running, three-point shot from the top of the key and knocking it down. The Jenkins shot turned what at one time seemed could be a 23-21 Wheelersburg halftime lead into a much more commanding 26-18 advantage.
“I thought that was a big momentum swing,” said Coach Barrick. “We were able to take that strong finish from the first half and continue our run in the early part of the second half. We knew Waverly wouldn’t quit. They are very athletic and they play extremely hard. We just wanted to keep battling and find a way to finish off a good victory on the road.”
Wheelersburg returned in the third quarter looking to keep the momentum and again, it was Jenkins, this time on the defensive end that sparked the Pirates. The 5-8 senior guard recorded a steal on the first possession which led to a ‘Burg basket. In fact, the Pirates got field goals from five different players in the third period, a period that saw Wheelersburg open up as much as a 16-point advantage.
Waverly fought back again, and again, it was Walls. The 6-6 senior star rattled off seven quick points to cut into the Pirate lead, and then when Conley, who had a game-high five assists, hit Mason Good for a three-point play, the Tigers were back within single-digits at 38-29 – a score that would take the game to end of three quarters.
“He is so athletic and he has really added some different things to his offensive game this year,” said Barrick of Walls who led all scorers with 21 points while also recording five blocks. “As far as the offensive end goes, that was some of the best balance we have had this year. We know Drew (Spradlin) is going to consistently score the basketball, but for us to be a good team we need to get the type of offense we got from some other people tonight.”
The final quarter saw Wheelersburg spurt again, and this time it would be a run that Waverly would be unable to answer. The Pirates were quite efficient down the stretch shooting five for eight from the floor – all two-point attempts – and four of six from the charity stripe to seal the win.
Spradlin led the Pirates in scoring for the seventh straight game with 15 points while Jenkins and freshman post presence Andy Stegman scored 11 and 10 points, respectively. The 21 points from Walls marked the only Tiger in double-figures, but Arnett did end with nine points on three triples.
“It was a good night for us,” said Spradlin who was seven of 12 from the floor on the night. “We played well together and we did a nice job on the boards. Waverly is a very athletic team and we knew they were going to play with a lot of intensity, so it was important that we match their effort.”
The loss drops Waverly to 1-3 in the SOC and 1-4 overall. With the win, Wheelersburg improves to 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference play. In other SOC action it was Minford defeating Lucasville Valley 82-76, and Oak Hill, who is responsible for Wheelersburg’s only SOC loss, beat Portsmouth West 55-46.
The Scioto Valley Conference had a full slate of games Tuesday night as well. Piketon traveled to Westfall and escaped with a 54-49 victory on the strength of 19 points from Cody Smith. Adena and Huntington remained unbeaten in conference play as Adena got 23 points from Clay Roll in a 52-39 win over Zane Trace, and Huntington got 23 points from Josh Kellough in an 84-57 blowout win at Paint Valley. Coach Matt Hoops and his Unioto Shermans also recorded their first win with a 53-47 victory over Southeastern.
In the Mid-State League, it was Logan Elm beating Circleville 67-53, Teays Valley knocking off Amanda 66-48, and Canal Winchester got 27 points and 20 rebounds from future Buckeye, B.J. Mullins in a 74-50 win over Hamilton Township.
Rounding out the southeast action, it was Ironton beating Jackson in an SEOAL match-up 63-48, and in the Southern Hills League, Leesburg Fairfield beat Peebles 77-69.