WELLSTON, Ohio — Stifling defense to start the second season.
The 14th-seeded Eastern boys basketball held 19th-seeded Portsmouth Notre Dame without a field goal for over 12 minutes to start the second half of Wednesday’s Division IV sectional semifinal at Wellston High School, where the Eagles soared to a 50-24 victory.
Eastern (11-12) — which will be back at WHS to face third-seeded Trimble on Wednesday — never trailed in the game, making its first four shots for a 10-0 lead two minutes into play. Notre Dame (5-15) came up empty on its first seven possessions of the game, and trailed 13-0 before a free throw to end the drought with 3:36 left in the first quarter.
EHS closed the period with a 10-to-4 run for a 23-5 lead, with Garrett Barringer scoring 15 of the Eagles’ first quarter points on five three-pointers.
The Titans had their best stanza of the night in the second, outscoring EHS 12-to-6 to make the Eagle lead 29-17 at halftime.
The Green and White came out of the break with a 14-to-1 run in the third quarter, shooting 50 percent from the field without committing a turnover. NDHS came up empty on nine field goal attempts and gave the ball away seven times in the third, giving EHS a 43-18 lead with eight minutes to play.
The Eagles scored the first five points of the fourth quarter and led by a game-high 30 points with four minutes to play. Notre Dame scored six of the final eight points in Eastern’s 50-24 victory.
Following the 26-point win, second-year Eastern head coach David Kight commended his team’s defense.
“I was excited and happy about the defensive pressure we had in the first half,” Kight said. “We gave up a couple wide open shots to (Caleb Nichols), and we couldn’t do that. We corrected it in the second half, kind of clamped down on him a little bit and contained better. In the second half, that’s as good of defense as we’ve played all-year, I was proud of them.”
For the game, Eastern shot 21-of-42 (50 percent) from the field, including 7-of-12 (58.3 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, NDHS was 8-of-38 (21.1 percent) from the field, including 3-of-13 (23.1 percent) from deep. At the foul line, EHS was 1-of-2 (50 percent) and Notre Dame was 5-of-11 (45.5 percent).
The Titans won the rebounding battle by a 28-to-19 count, including 12-to-2 on the offensive end. Eastern had eight turnovers in the game, 10 fewer than NDHS. The Eagles combined for 15 assists, 10 steals and four rejections, while the Titans claimed seven assists, two steals and two blocks.
Barringer led the Eagles with 19 points and six rebounds, scoring all of his game-high in the first half. Colton Reynolds was next with 13 points, while Ryan Dill scored eight and led the defense with three steals and a block.
Derrick Metheney and Mason Dishong marked four points apiece in the win, with Metheney earning a team-best four assists. Jace Bullington rounded out the winning tally with two points.
Nichols led Notre Dame with 11 points and nine rebounds, with all of his points also coming before halftime. Dominic Sparks claimed seven points for the Titans, Christian Alvarez, Gary Zheng and Dylan Seison each scored two, while Jermaine Powell had a team-best four assists. Seison led the Titan defense with a steal and a block.
Next, Coach Kight is looking for his Eagles to make the most of a third shot at Trimble, after falling to the Tomcats 62-58 and 64-33 in the regular season.
“Hopefully the third time’s the charm,” Kight said. “We played them close up there, they handled us pretty well at our place in the second half, we’ll have our hands full. I’ve known Coach (Howie) Caldwell since I was a player in high school, I know they’re going to be ready to play. I know Coach (Matt) Simpson and I will have our boys ready to play, hopefully this gym will be packed and we’ll be rolling at 6:15 next Wednesday.”
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Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.