CHILLICOTHE – Coach Bryan Alley’s Zane Trace Pioneers returned to action for the first time since knocking off the Division III No. 4 ranked Huntington Huntsmen this past Friday night.
Zane Trace started quickly in hopes of another upset victory as the red, white, and blue scored the game’s first eight points, but following a McClain timeout, the Tigers turned their defense up a notch and started on a long run that saw the purple and gold score 27 of the game’s next 29 points to build a comfortable lead.
Zane Trace did respond with a few “mini” runs throughout the night, but the Tigers were never in serious jeopardy as Greenfield cruised to a 51-40 victory.
The quick start from Zane Trace was a result of the hot shooting of Beau Dailey. The senior guard scored all eight points in the early going and eventually ended with 11 points. Zane Trace’s offense then went cold as the Pioneers started getting sloppy allowing McClain to create some easy opportunities from its defense.
McClain’s late second quarter lead eventually grew to 27-10 before a Josh McCoy triple momentarily stopped the bleeding. Shortly after, McCoy struck again with a pull-up jumper and it appeared Zane Trace may get to the half only down 14 at 29-15, but McClain’s outstanding freshman Vince Zollo knocked down a three-pointer just before time expired to stretch the Tiger lead back to 17 heading to intermission.
“Our defense has been our key all year long,” said McClain head coach Rick VanMatre after watching his team hold Zane Trace’s leading scorers Matt Miller and Kirk Maxwell to two and zero points, respectively. “We have been keeping teams right around 40 points, and when you do that you always are going to give yourself a chance to win.”
McClain continued to control them game in the second half. The Tigers had multiple lengthy offensive possessions that resulted in easy scores. The frontline duo of Zollo and Jeremy Webster had their way combining to score 31 – Webster had 17 and Zollo added 14 – of their team’s 51 to lead the Tigers to the non-conference win.
One bright spot for Zane Trace in the second half was the play of Gabe Haynes. The 6-2 sophomore guard scored all of his team-high 12 points after the break to help keep the Pioneers in striking distance, but a late fourth quarter spurt that cut the lead to 10 is as close as Zane Trace would get.
The win moves McClain to 12-2. The Tigers remain on the road as they travel to Hillsboro this Saturday. For Zane Trace, the Pioneers drop to 6-7 and they remain home for a Scioto Valley Conference game against Piketon this Friday night.
“Our young kids have stepped in and produced nicely,” said Coach VanMatre. “Zollo is averaging close to 13 points, nine rebounds as a freshman and Lucas Polley is averaging around 12 as a sophomore. You add that to Jeremy’s production and we been able to get just enough offense to win.
“Another key has been our ability to win the close games,” the legendary coach, who is currently in his 27th year of leading the Tigers, continued. “We have had several close games, and the kids have responded well with key shots and key defensive stops to find a way to win.”