Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons once sang, “oh what a night,” and the same can be said for the night
one Ohio star enjoyed recently. Peebles senior Blake Justice went over the 2,000-point barrier in a 109-82 win over St. Patrick (KY) this past Friday. That’s not all, he did it by scoring 50 points in the game…
Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons once sang, “oh what a night,” on their 1975 album “Who Loves You,” and the same can be said for the night one Ohio star recently enjoyed.
The past four years one name has been synonymous with Peebles basketball and the name is Blake Justice. The 6-foot-2 senior has enjoyed a more than stellar career, but five days ago he took it to a new level.
Justice recently went over the 2,000-point barrier in a 109-82 win over St. Patrick (KY) this past Friday and currently stands at 2,104 career-points. He is just the 44th player in Ohio boy’s basketball history to accomplish the feat and is now 30th on Ohio’s all-time boy’s scoring list just seven points shy of tying Lynchburg Clay’s Paul Cluxton.
“It still hasn’t set in yet,” remarked the humble Justice. “People tell me how unbelievable of an achievement it is and I just think it hasn’t had time to hit me yet, but it’s a great relief. It’s funny because going into high school as far as scoring goes my goal was to score a thousand (points), but I was fortunate to have great teammates that have given me this opportunity.”
The Akron signee’s night didn’t stop with just eclipsing the 2,000-point mark, he coupled it with a 50-point game. Justice was 18-of-29 from the field including 7-of-13 from distance and 7-of-10 at the line. He also added nine rebounds, fours assists, and four steals.
“Scoring 50 was similar to the 2,000 mark,” Justice said. “It’s taken awhile for me to realize what I actually did, but it was also a relief. I’ve taken ‘crap’ since my first game of my freshmen year when I was two short of the school-record with 46 (points). I’ve crossed the 40-point mark like six times or more in my career, but it wasn’t until this past game that I got the record.”
Justice followed his 50-point outing up with a 38-point effort in a big win over Ripley (16-2). The win over Ripley ended the Blue Jays 13-game winning streak. The Indians forged at least a tie for the Southern Hills League Division II title with a 79-56 triumph of North Adams Tuesday night. Justice went for 28 points, nine assists, six rebounds, and four steals.
The Indians have now won nine-straight contests and upped their record to (18-1) overall.
“The season is going well,” Justice said. “We are 18-1 and are continuing to improve. We lost a heartbreaker to Manchester by two (points) at their place earlier in the year.”
Peebles avenged the 67-65 loss to Manchester with an 84-60 thumping of the Greyhounds in late January.
Along with all the accolades, winning in the regular season hasn’t been a problem for the Indians. Peebles ran off 21 wins in Justice’s junior year and 18 his sophomore campaign. However, the problem has been tournament advancement. The Indians have lost to Ironton twice in Justice’s tournament career including a 69-68 setback a year ago. Peebles hasn’t made it out of district play during his illustrious career, but that hasn’t changed his goals for this season.
“My goals throughout the tourney are what everyone else’s is and that is to win state or at least make it,” Justice declared. “Our team last year had the same mentality and we were beat on a last second shot in double overtime (district finals). This year we want to get that back for our town, but throughout high school we’ve all learned that you have to take it one game at a time and so we’re looking forward to that first night.”
It hasn’t been a one-man-show by any means as Justice has received plenty of help over the years and even more so this year with some outstanding support from several sidekicks and role guys.
6-2 senior Andrew Countryman is averaging 16.7 points per game, 6-6 junior Jake Daniels is netting 11.1 points and 6.5 rebounds while coming off a 30-point/14-rebound effort last night, 6-1 senior Tyler McFarland is getting 7.9 counters, and 5-10 sophomore Trent Arey is adding 6.0 points and 7.4 assists.
6-1 senior A.J. Chamblin is also providing solid depth.
Last Friday, 6-5 senior Brandon Leedy suffered an apparent broken fibula which will hurt the depth of the bench immensely.
Justice, who is averaging 27.4 points, 5.6 boards, 4.3 steals, and 4.3 assists, has not only shined at Peebles, but he has been a go-to-guy on the AAU circuit for Team CBIZ headed by Brian Bishop.
“I can’t say enough about Brian Bishop and CBIZ,” the Akron signee stated. “It was so helpful for me throughout high school in becoming a player and giving me opportunities to play in front of colleges. ‘Bish’ does an amazing job and spends tons of time talking to colleges for his players. Playing with CBIZ was a great opportunity for me and I couldn’t have asked to have any better coaching/ownership than I got out of Coach Bishop.”
Justice’s high school career will be over no later than March 26th, but the riffle-man will be taking his talents to the Mid-American Conference to play his college ball for head coach Keith Dambrot and the Akron Zips.
“I’ve gotten the chance to watch Akron several time on TV this year and was able to go watch them once,” the Indians’ senior relayed. “I can’t wait to be there and get started. I talk to the coaches after each one of my games and most of theirs as well. It’s good to have a coaching staff as nice as theirs and have the ability to get a good relationship going already.”
Though Justice will be heading off to college in just a few months, he will never forget his time at Peebles.
“I couldn’t have asked to be born into a better community,” Justice said. “The fans here are great! It’s always fun to be able to play in the same place as your father did as well, but this town goes all out for its sports and takes a lot of pride in basketball. I love it and there is nothing better than being able to walk around the town and everyone is talking about or asking you about the team.”
Peebles will finish out the regular season in Justice’s home regular season finale on Friday against Lynchburg-Clay. Ironically, the Indians will meet either North Adams or Clay in their opening sectional game as well. If things go right, Peebles could have a chance for redemption in the district championship against Ironton, but for now this is all speculation.