Southeastern in the early game Tuesday, No. 7 seed Zane Trace and No. 10 seed Portsmouth took center stage for what many thought would be
the featured game of the first-round at Waverly’s 15-team sectional. Neither disapointed as the Pioneers used free throws down the stretch to edge Portsmouth 80-74.
The first quarter was a seesaw battle that saw eleven lead changes and five ties before Zane Trace started the second-quarter with seven unanswered points to break a 21-21 tie. Portsmouth momentarily responded with a pair of free throws and an open court jam from junior Corey Allison; however, following a Zane Trace timeout, the Pioneers got buckets from D.J. Merriman, Matt Miller, and Beau Dailey to stretch the lead back to nine at the half.
In the third quarter, Portsmouth started to go back inside to 6-7 junior Nate Cadogan. Cadogan, who scored 12 points in the opening quarter before going scoreless in quarter number two, scored three times in the early going only to see Miller and Maxwell answer for Zane Trace to keep the Pioneer advantage at nine halfway through the third period.
At this point, Portsmouth’s backcourt of Andrew Bendolph and Jacob Stevens started getting the Trojan offense in gear. The duo scored 11 points over the final four minutes of the third quarter to cut the ZT lead to two at 54-52, but a Josh McCoy buzzer-beating field goal at the end the period stretched the lead back to four.
This momentum extended into the fourth quarter as the hot-shooting of Kirk Maxwell helped ZT open the lead back up to as much as 11 at 74-63. With the clocking ticking below the two-minute mark and fans filing out of the gym, Bendolph led an amazing Portsmouth comeback. The 5-10 freshmen nailed a three-pointer and following a ZT turnover knocked down another triple. After a Stevens steal resulted in an Allison bucket to cut the lead to three at 74-71, Bendolph dialed up another long distance three on the next Trojan possession to cap off an 11-0 run in a matter of 48-seconds.
To Zane Trace’s credit, it did not lose its composure. McCoy drew a common foul and the senior hit two free throws to regain the 76-74 advantage. Portsmouth had a few opportunities to stay in the game in the final 30 seconds, but free throw shooting from Miller and Dailey sealed the deal for Zane Trace.
“It would have been easy for my kids to crumble after losing the lead, but they didn’t,” said Zane Trace head coach Bryan Alley. “We did a nice job down the stretch at the free throw line – an area that we have struggled with at times. I just think that is a tribute to the hard work of the kids.”
Zane Trace was led by Maxwell with 23 and Miller with 22 and 10 rebounds. McCoy was also in double-figures with 13 points as was Dailey with 10. Likewise, Portsmouth had four guys in double-figures led by Bendolph’s 22 points as well as 21 from Cadogan. Sophomore guard Forrest Johnson added 11 for the Trojans and Stevens added 10.
In the early game, North Adams got 27 points from its outstanding guard Kraig Unger. The junior guard scored 12 of those 27 in the first stanza to push the Green Devils out to an 18-5 advantage and from there the green and gold rolled to the 19-point victory. North Adams also got 13 points and 10 points from Tyler Jamison and Tyler Rothwell, respectively. In the losing effort, Southeastern was led by senior Kenny Corcoran with 18 points.
Coach Dave Young’s 18-3, North Adams team will play Zane Trace in the late game Friday night back at Waverly’s Downtown Gymnasium. Tip-off is slated for 8:30. Game one that night between top-seeded Huntington and nine-seeded West Union – who advanced with an 85-61 first-round win over eight-seed Eastern Brown – will tip off at 6:00. The gym will be cleared in between games so fans planning to attend both games will forced to buy a ticket for each session.