When the Division II boys’ regional championship game takes place Saturday at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens, there’ll be one team that was pretty much regarded as a lock to be there and one team that has pretty much come out of nowhere. Chillicothe (22-2) and Meadowbrook (15-9) will square off at 5 p.m. Saturday in the regional championship game in Athens.
When the Division II boys’ regional championship game takes place Saturday at the Ohio University Convocation Center in Athens, there’ll be one team that was pretty much regarded as a lock to be there and one team that has pretty much come out of nowhere.
In Thursday night’s regional semifinals, both state-ranked Chillicothe and surprising Meadowbrook used torrid shooting to claim victory. Chillicothe blitzed the nets at The Convo at a 66.7 percent clip (36-of-54) en route to an 89-42 shellacking of Vinton County while Meadowbrook shot at a 61.1 percent rate (22-of-36) to claim a 61-54 victory over Maysville.
Chillicothe (22-2) and Meadowbrook (15-9) will square off at 5 p.m. Saturday in the regional championship game in Athens, with a berth in next week’s OHSAA Division II State Tournament in Columbus on the line.
Chillicothe 89, Vinton County 42
Chillicothe — the state’s No. 2 ranked Division II squad — scored early and often in a complete mismatch against Vinton County in the opener.
Four minutes into the fray, the Cavaliers had raced out to a 16-4 lead en route to a 17-9 upperhand at the initial quarter break.
Chillicothe scored the first eight points of round two to push out to a 25-9 advantage and after Vinton County finally got on the board, the Cavaliers used another 8-0 flurry to extend their lead to 33-13.
With senior Stuart Beverly scoring 13 points in the first half, the Cavaliers had doubled up on the Vikings with a 40-20 advantage.
It got even worse in the third quarter as talented 5-9 senior guard Anthony Hitchens — the Southeatern District’s D-II Player of the Year with a 21.6-point per game scoring average — caught fire for Chillicothe. Hitchens poured in a whopping 21 points to lead the Cavs to a 30-10 blitz in the period, widening the gap to 40 points (70-3) and all but turning out the lights.
“We had a couple of lackadaisical games to get here,” said Chillicothe coach Gary Kellough, “but our kids worked really hard form last week to this week and we came out and played the way we’re capable of tonight.
“We played a solid game defensively,” the Cavaliers’ coach continued, “and that makes your offense look pretty good., Anthony (Hitchens) and Ray (6-7 senior Ray Chambers, a 16-point per game scorer held in check on this night with just four points) are going to get theirs, but the key for us is to get balance and Stuart, in particular, really stepped up for us tonight.”
Chillicothe’s torrid shooting night also included a three-point barrage as the Cavaliers hit 10-of-13 from beyond the arc for a sizzling 76.9 percent.
Hitchens — headed for the University of Akron — finished with a game-high 28 points as well as six assists to lead Chillicothe while Beverly tallied 19 and 6-5 junior Ron Smith had 10. Beverly and Smith led the Cavs to a 38-21 rebounding edge with eight and six caroms, respectively.
For Vinton County (22-2), senior Andrew Eberts scored 11 points; senior Dustin Guthrie netted 10 and sophomore Andy Grillo had eight. Eberts and Guthrie also collected four rebounds each.
The Vikings were just 15-of-50 from the field (30 percent), including 2-of-13 (15.4 percent) from three-point range.
Chillicothe was charted with 10 turnovers to 13 for Vinton County.
Meadowbrook 61, Maysville 54
In the nightcap, Meadowbrook worked its way to a 13-11 lead thanks in part to a pair of early three-point goals by sophomore sharpshooter Jeramie Neff, but the Colts failed to score in the final 2:40 of the first quarter and Maysville (17-7) tallied the last seven points of the round on inside goals by junior Alex Sidwell and sophomore Max Huddleston and a “triple” by junior Eastin Lewellen to move on top, 18-13, at the initial break.
The Colts hit 8-of-9 shots in the second period — including a 4-of-4 effort by sophomore Ethan Shriver — while Maysville suffered through a 3-of-16 effort in the round. A 17-9 scoring edge and a last-second “three” by sophomore sub Logan Pepper had Meadowbrook on top, 30-27, at the intermission.
In the third chapter, it was senior Brock Miracle’s time to shine as he tallied nine points as the Colts built as much as a 10-point lead, and were on top by eight, 45-37, heading to the final frame.
A three-point play by senior stalwart Philip Biggs opened the fourth and extended Meadowbrook’s lead to 11 (48-37). The Colts didn’t score during the next four and a half minutes, but Maysville only managed a “trey” by Lewellen and two free throws by Sidwell to pare the gap to 48-42 with 3:29 remaining.
Another three-point play by Biggs pushed the lead back to nine (51-42) and a bucket by Maysville’s Huddleston was matched by Biggs, keeping the spread at nine until Lewellen gave the Panthers hope at 53-47 with 2:01 remaining.
With Maysville forced to foul down the stretch, Meadowbrook managed to convert 8-of-13 charity tosses in the final 1:36 to preserve the victory.
The Colts once again got significant play from its seven-player rotation. Biggs led the way with 22 points, 13 rebounds, five assists and three blcoked shots. Miracle closed with 12 points; Shriver netted 11 and Neff tallied eight. Senior point guard Nick Hudson controlled the action nicely, dishing out eight assists and also contributing five rebounds. Pepper and fellow sophomore Alex Robertson also gave the Colts quality minutes off the bench.
“When we take care of the ball and get the shots we want, we’re pretty good offensively,” said Arnold. “We have unselfish kids and they look to find each-other and try to get the ball to the open guy.
“Defensively, we just played well enough to win,” the MHS coach related. “I wasn’t totally satisfied with us at that end, but we did play better defense in the second half.”
Arnold called it another “team effort” by his squad.
“We had different guys step up at various times, the MHS coach stated. “Jeramie hit big shots early; Brock and Ethan got us rolling in the middle; and then Phil came through in the fourth quarter like the big-time player he is. Nick had a lot of pressure on him tonight because they had a good point-guard, but he did a nice job getting us into our sets and distributing the ball.”
Maysville had three players carry the offensive load, with Huddleston and Lewellen sharing team honors with 18 points each while junior Jared Cox tallied 14. Sidwell pulled down seven rebounds for the Panthers; Lewellen had five boards and three assists; Cox handed out four assists and junior Corey Denman had four steals.
The Panthers were 22-of-60 from the field (36.7 percent), including 5-of-21 from three-point range (23.8 percent). Maysville had a 34-26 rebounding edge and was charted with just five turnovers to Meadowbrook’s nine.