ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — The top seed rarely gets upset by the eight seed, but then again South Webster is not your typical underdog.
The one-seed Southern boys basketball team fell to the eight-seeded Jeeps by a count of 65-54 Tuesday night in the sectional final at Meigs High School. South Webster, which was a regional finalist last season, has now won five consecutive sectional titles.
“I would have liked to do more in the tournament,” said Southern head coach Jeff Caldwell. “It’s a shame we had to play South Webster off the bat. It’s not fair for a number one seed to have to play them. They have a chance to go on to the district and do pretty well. If we play better, maybe we get them but we didn’t play very well tonight.”
The Tornadoes (16-7) were able to put together a solid opening period and led 11-to-8 through eight minutes of play. The Jeeps (11-12) answered with a 6-0 run to begin the second quarter and they expanded the lead to 22-16 with 3:30 to play in the half. Southern closed the half with a 23-22 run.
South Webster connected on three trifectas en route to 14 points in the third quarter, while holding the Purple and Gold to just eight points. The Jeeps, which led 36-31 at the start of the fourth, pushed its lead to 49-36 with 5:45 to play.
Southern, which had two starters fouled out of the game, trimmed the lead to 54-49 with 2:07 remaining but the Jeeps closed the game out with a 11-5 run to take the sectional title by a count of 65-54.
“I’m just really disappointed right now because we didn’t play our best tonight,” said Caldwell. “Its tough, you want to go out playing your best and we didn’t do it tonight. Our defense was good until the fourth quarter and foul trouble hurt us bad, obviously.”
The Tornadoes were led by Tristen Wolfe with 20 points, including 12 in the fourth period. Chandler Drummer marked 11 points, Taylor McNickle and Trenton Deem each had six, while Casey Pickens added four and Zac Beegle had three points. Dennis Teaford and Jaylen Blanks each added two points, rounding out the SHS total.
The Tornadoes shot 22-of-56 (39.3 percent) from the field, 4-of-20 (20 percent) from three-point range and 6-of-11 (54.5 percent) from the free throw line. The Tornadoes had 28 rebounds, nine assists, two blocks, four steals, 12 turnovers and 22 fouls.
Teaford paced SHS with eight rebounds, followed by Wolfe and Pickens with five apiece. Wolfe had a team-high five assists, while Deem led the defense with two steals. Wolfe and Drummer each had a block in the game.
Levi Cook led the Jeeps with 28 points including 17 in the fourth quarter. Shane Simmerman had 14 points, Alek Blevins added 12, while Brody Queen marked five. Denver Fuller and Nate Hadinger each had three points to cap off the victors total.
South Webster shot 18-of-49 (36.7 percent) from the field, 7-of-22 (31.8 percent) from beyond the arc and 2-of-25 (88 percent) from the free throw line. SWHS had 28 rebounds, 14 assists, six steals, 12 turnovers and 12 fouls.
Blevins had 12 rebounds to lead the way, followed by Cook with seven. Zimmerman led the way with five assists, followed by Cook with four. Fuller led the defensive effort with three steals.
This is the second straight year SHS has lost in the sectional final, while South Webster’s last sectional loss came in 2009. The Jeeps are on a six game winning streak.
This marks the final game for Southern seniors Dennis Teaford, Chandler Drummer, Casey Pickens, Zac Beegle, Taylor McNickle and Trenton Deem.
“They are a good group of guys and they’re good to be around,” Caldwell said of his seniors. “I appreciate them and what they’ve done. We’re going to miss them but they were able to help us get our first league championship in the TVC.”
The last time the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division champion won a sectional title was 2011 when the Eastern Eagles advanced to the district and went 14-2 in the league. TVC Hocking co-champion Waterford also lost in the sectional final on Tuesday, by a count of 73-66.
South Webster will go on to the Convocation Center on the campus of Ohio University, where the Jeeps will face Paint Valley at 6:15 on Monday.