ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — A slow start and a sectional exit.
The Eastern boys basketball team had its campaign ended on Tuesday night inside Meigs High School’s Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium, as the fifth-seeded Eagles missed their first dozen field goal attempts and fell to fourth-seeded South Webster by a 63-50 count.
Eastern (11-12) never led in the contest, as South Webster (12-10) opened the game with back-to-back three-pointers. After Garrett Barringer made a pair free throws for EHS, the Jeeps drained two more triples and led 12-2 with 1:22 left in the opening period.
The Eagles cut the SWHS lead to 12-4 at the end of the first, as Barringer beat the buzzer and connected Eastern’s 13 field goal attempt of the night.
The Eagles claimed four of the first five points in the second period, but the Jeeps closed the half with a 15-to-5 run and a 28-13 lead.
EHS was back within single digits after starting the second half 12-to-5 spurt, but South Webster answered with a 10-to-4 run over the remainder of the third quarter and headed for the fourth with a 43-29 edge.
The Jeeps claimed seven of the first nine points in the fourth quarter and led 50-31 with four minutes to play. Eastern battled back to within 10 points, at 57-47, with 48 second left, but the Jeeps sealed the 63-50 sectional title win with a 6-to-3 run.
Following the season-ending setback, first-year EHS skipper David Kight was proud of his team for executing the game plan and containing the Jeeps’ biggest weapons.
“They took our game plan and executed exactly what Coach (Matt) Simpson and I had asked from them,” Kight said. “We wanted to contain (Shiloah) Blevins, he’s the best athlete we’ve seen this year by far. (Braden) Bockway is extremely good in his own right, and extremely skilled. We didn’t want them to kill us, we were going to make the other guys beat us from the perimeter for 32 minutes, and that’s exactly what they did.
“We didn’t quite have our legs under us at the beginning, that could have been nerves. We haven’t seen their length all year long, we’ve seen big teams, but not really their length. The tournament is a different breed, it’s a different creature, if we would have played the first half like we played the second half, things might have been different. Hat’s off to South Webster, congrats on the sectional title and good luck at the Convo.”
For the game, Eastern shot 20-of-54 (37 percent) from the field, including 5-of-18 (27.8 percent) from beyond the arc. Meanwhile, South Webster was 19-of-49 (38.8 percent) from the field, including 10-of-26 (38.5 percent) from three-point range. At the foul line, EHS was 5-of-8 (62.5 percent), while SWHS was 15-of-20 (75 percent).
EHS senior Isaiah Fish led all-scorers with 19 points, featuring a trio of three-pointers. Barringer recorded nine points and 10 rebounds for the Eagles, while Sharp Facemyer and Colton Reynolds scored seven points each, with Reynolds earning a team-best three assists.
Mason Dishong contributed four points, seven rebounds and three steals to the Eagle cause, Blaise Facemyer chipped in with two points, while Ryan Dill added one marker.
Jacob Ruth and Braden Bockway both made three triples finished with 16 points apiece to lead SWHS, with Bockway earning a game-best three rejections. Trae Zimmerman scored 14 points and earned two steals in the win, Tanner Voiers added 11 points and six assists, while Shiloah Blevins finished with six points and 15 rebounds.
This was the final game in the prep careers of EHS seniors Sharp Facemyer, Blaise Facemyer, Isaiah Fish, Dylan Creath, Noah Browning and Evin Bauer, who Coach Kight credited as foundation for the future of Eagle basketball.
“I love them, I wish I could have spent more time with them than just one year,” Kight said. “They bought into what I wanted them to do from the very beginning. Great leadership, great kids, and they are the foundation for this new era of Eastern basketball.”
The Eagles have now had double-digit wins in back-to-back seasons, with this year’s total of 11 victories as the program’s most since the 2010-11 campaign. Coach Kight is hoping to build on what his squad did this winter, as they look to end a six-year sectional title drought next season.
“We did some good things this year, there’s definitely a lot of things we can build on going into next year,” said Kight. “We’ve got some kids back, and we’ve got some other kids coming who were successful at the jay-vee level. We’re going to get back in the gym sometime in April, and hopefully the bitter taste of not making it out of here sticks with them so we can change some fortunes and get out of here next year.”
South Webster returns to action in the district semifinal against New Boston at 2 p.m. on Sunday at Ohio University.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.