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Fast start lifts Pirates over Hornets

Coal Grove Hornets’ Jordan Beals (1) drives past a Wheelersburg defender en route to the basket. The Hornets lost 61-39 to Wheelersburg on Tuesday in the Div. III sectional tournament. (The Ironton Tribune / Kent Sanborn of Southern Ohio Sports Photos)

By JIM WALKER

Tribune Sports Editor

 

JACKSON — This time it wasn’t about start to finish but start and finish.

The Wheelersburg Pirates used a fast start and a strong finish to pull away from the Coal Grove Hornets and post a 61-39 win Tuesday in the Division III sectional tournament.

Wheelersburg went on an 11-0 run to start the game. After Coal Grove got within 42-32 with 6:40 to play, the Pirates outscored the Hornets 13-3 to open up a comfortable lead.

“The slow start hurt us big time. That was our inexperience,” said Hornets’ coach Jay Lucas. “Give (Wheelersburg) credit. They hit the shots.”

The Pirates took a 17-7 lead on the strength of 8 of 10 shooting in the first quarter. A 3-pointer by Clay Massie with 1:05 left in the half gave the Pirates a 28-12 halftime lead.

Wheelersburg took a 34-14 lead with 6:08 on the third quarter clock after a layup by Aaron Cowgill, but that’s when the Hornets came to life.

Bryan Steele hit a trifecta, Alex Bare had a pair of layups, Jordan Beals hit a triple, and Bare came up with a steal and fed Steele for a layup and it was 36-26.

Eddie Miller stopped the run with a 3-pointer for the Pirates but Beals knocked down another trey and it was 39-29 at the end of the quarter.

Miller and Bare traded 3-pointers to begin the fourth quarter. Miller then hit a short jumper in the lane to ignite their late scoring surge that was interrupted briefly by a Conor Markins’ 3-pointer for the Hornets.

Bare’s 3-poiner made it 55-35 but the Pirates scored six straight for a 61-38 lead.

“We gave up 10 of 12 (shooting) in the paint the first half,” said Lucas. “We got within 10 points a couple of times but every time we were able to close the gap, they hit a couple of 3’s and took the lead back up.”

Bare led the Hornets with 14 points, 6 steals and 2 assists. Beals added 9 points on three 3-pointers and Steele had 7 points, 11 rebounds and 4 blocked shots.

Eddie Miller scored 20 points, Massie 13, Dylan Miller had 10 points and 12 rebounds and Derek Moore added 10 points for the Pirates (8-13).

Coal Grove finished the season 12-9.

“Our kids played hard all year. We’re an inexperienced team and every experience for them is a learning experience. Almost none of these kids played in the tournament last year,” said Lucas.

Wheelersburg will play Portsmouth at 5 p.m. Saturday in the sectional finals.

Wheelersburg 17 11 11 22 = 61

Coal Grove 7 5 17 10 = 39

WHEELERSBURG (8-13): Eddie Miller 7 2 0-0 20, Aaron Cowgill 2 0 2-2 6, Clay Massie 2 3 0-0 13, Dylan Miller 5 0 0-0 10, Derek Moore 4 0 2-2 10, Tyler Claxon 0 0 0-0 0, Jacob Spradlin 0 0 0-0 0, Alex Shears 0 0 0-0 0, Brett Hood 0 0 2-2 2. Totals: 25-48 6-6 61. 3-point goals: 5-13. Rebounds: 9-21=30 (D. Miller 12, Cowgill 5). Team rebounds: 2. Assists: 8 (Massie 3, Moore 2). Steals: 9 (Cowgill 5). Turnovers: 13. Fouls: 10. Fouled out: None.

COAL GROVE (12-9): Alex Bare 4 2 0-0 14, Jacob Pauley 0 0 0-0 0, Conor Markins 1 20-0 8, Bryan Steele 2 10-0 7, Kyle Estep 0 0 0-0 0, Jordan Beals 0 3 0-0 9, Colton Bryant 0 0 0-0 0, Brandon Doyle 0 0 1-2 1, T.J. Barrett 0 0 0-0 0. Totals: 15-42 1-2 39. 3-point goals: 8-18. Rebounds: 6-13=22 (Steele 11). Team rebounds: 0. Assists: 5 (Bare 2, Markins 2). Steals: 10 (Bare 6). Turnovers: 16. Blocked shots: 4 (Steele 4). Fouls: 11. Fouled out: None.