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Shots refuse to fall as Flyers fall in district title game


St. Joseph Flyers’ Ryan Payne (24) works against Peebles’ Hunter White as he gets set to make a break toward the basket during Saturday’s Division 4 district title game. The Flyers fell to the Indians, 57-47. (Photo By Tim Gearhart)

Jim Walker
jim.walker@irontontribune.com

ATHENS — The St. Joseph Flyers played pretty good defense against the Peebles Indians.
Unfortunately, they played pretty good defense against themselves.
Despite open looks, close-range shooting attempts as well as layups, and just the normal shots they have taken all season, the Flyers couldn’t find their shooting touch.
The end results were a 15-for-46 shooting performance including a mere 2-for-20 from 3-point range as they lost 57-47 to Peebles in the Division 4 district finals on Saturday at the Ohio University Convocation Center.
“Sometimes you win by the 3 and sometimes you die by the 3,” said Flyers’ coach Chris Barnes. “But that’s how we have to play. That’s how we played all season. (Peebles) is a good defensive team but I thought we had some really good looks. It just wouldn’t fall tonight.
“I was praying for one of those shooting nights we’re capable of having where we go crazy from 3, but it just didn’t happen tonight. If we shoot 30 percent (from 3-point), we’re right there.”
Things started bad and never turned the other way.
The Flyers were even at 4-4 after a layup by Zach Roah, but a 3-poitner by Dawson Mills and three foul shots by Hunter Ruckel put the Indians up 10-4.
A layup by J.C. Damron off a pass from Jimmy Mahlmeister cut the spread to 16-10 with 1:11 left in the quarter.
Ryan Payne’s layup had the Flyers down 20-12 but two free throws by Mills with three seconds left in the quarter put the lead at 22-12.
When a Flyers’ player slipped and fell, Oakley Burba came up with the steal and layup to give Peebles a 27-12 lead.
Ruckel came up with another steal and layup opened up a 29-14 lead with 5:42 left in the half.
A layup by Max Weber and two foul shots by Damron cut the deficit to 33-22 before a layup by Easton Wesley had Peebles up 35-22. Damron then had a driving layup with 8 seconds on the clock to make it 35-24 at the break.
St. Joseph trailed 39-29 after a foul shot by Roach and layup by Mahlmeister. Mills’ layup gave the Indians a 46-31 lead before a free throw by Jared Johnson and a trifecta by Damron — the Flyers first of the game — made it 46-35 with 2:24 on the clock.
But a layup by Browning and putback by Burba had Peebles up 50-35 to end the quarter.
Down 52-37 early in the fourth quarter, Roach sank two foul shots and drained a 3-poitner and it was 52-42 with 4:47 to play.
Alex Camp hit a wide-open 3-pointer for Peebles and Roach got a foul shot and layup and it was 55-45 with :146 to go.
Damron’s putback got the Flyers within 55-47 but there was only 15 seconds left.
“We hung, we hung, we kept trying to get it to single digits and we just couldn’t get some free throws to go or a wide-open 3. We were 9-for-16 (from 3-point) the other night and tonight we were 2-for-20. There are days like that but that’s basketball,” said Barnes.
Damron had 14 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Flyers. Payne scored 13 points and Roach finished with 11.
Damron was knocked to the floor in the third quarter and missed several minutes and collided in the fourth quarter and had to sit out again.
Ruckel scored 15 points and Mills 14 for Peebles (22-2) while Browning added 11.
The taller Indians held a 40-28 rebound advantage including 15 offensive boards.
“They’d reach over top of us and it wasn’t a foul. It was just they’re long,” said Barnes. “I saw film. They’re very good. They’re solid at every position. I told (assistant coaches) Ben (Roach) and Chris (Damron) before we came, we’re going to battle on defense, but we have to score.
The Flyers finished the season 19-6, the second most wins in school history behind the 1951 “Famous Five” team, the only team to reach the regional tournament.
However, the district semifinal 61-59 win over Federal Hocking last Monday was the school’s first district win since the 1951 team.
“We played hard all season right to the last whistle. I don’t think if you had some money to bet and you thought we’d be the only SOC team Division 1 or 2 still playing, I think you would have won a whole lot of money,” said Barnes with a grin.
Barnes not only praised the effort of the team throughout the season as well as in the district title game, but he noted the leadership of the only seniors Roach and Payne.
“I’m so proud of all these guys. Our two seniors did a great job. They do a great job on defense. You ask them to defend the best players. They don’t get to score and then guard the worst player on the other team. That’s what they do and that’s why they are seniors,” said Barnes.
“It was a two-year process and it was hard work for two years. The younger guys saw all the work they put in.”
St. Joseph 12 12 11 12 = 47
Peebles 22 15 15 7 = 57
ST. JOSEPH (19-6): Zach Roach 2 1 4-7 11, Ryan Payne 3 1 4-6 14, J.C. Damron 4 0 6-8 14, Jared Johnson 0 0 1-2 1, Jimmy Mahlmeister 2 0 0-0 4, Jackson Rowe 0 0 0-0 0, Matthew Sheridan 1 0 0-0 2, Max Weber 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 15-46 15-23 47. 3-pt goals: 2-20. Rebounds: 12-O, 16-D = 28 (Damron 13, Johnson 4). Team/deadball rebounds: 3. Assists: 3(Payne, Mahlmeister, Johnson). Steals: 2 (Roach, Mahlmeister). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.
PEEBLES (22-2): Dawson Mills 3 2 2-3 14, Oakley Burba 3 0 1-2 7, Hunter Ruckel 5 0 5-6 15, Alex Camp 0 1 1-2 4, Weston Browning 5 0 1-3 11, Kyle Lightner 0 0 0-0 0, Easton Wesley 2 0 0-0 4, Hunter White 1 0 0-0 2. Totals: 21-53 10-16 57. 3-pt goals: 3-10. Rebounds: 15-O, 25-D = 40 (Ruckel 10, Mills 9). Teams/deadball rebounds: 4. Assists: 6 (Camp 2, Browning 2). Steals: 5 (Browning 2). Turnovers: 8. Fouls: 18. Fouled out: None.