ROCKSPRINGS, Ohio — Unfortunately for the Eagles, there are four periods in a basketball game.
The eighth-seeded Eastern boys basketball team held the lead at the end of each of the first three quarters, on Tuesday night in the Division IV sectional semifinal inside Meigs High School’s Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium. However, ninth-seeded Green outscored EHS by a 23-to-12 clip over the final eight minutes to take the 59-50 victory and the spot in Tuesday’s sectional final.
Eastern (9-14) — which had won 2-of-3 games headed into the postseason — committed just one turnover in the opening quarter and led 15-12 by the conclusion of the stanza.
The Eagles never trailed in the second quarter, expanding their lead to as high as seven, at 19-12 and again at 20-13. The Bobcats (6-17) — winners of four straight — finished the first half with a 7-2 run, cutting the EHS lead to two points, at 22-20.
Green took its second lead of the game — its first advantage since 2-0 — at 27-26, with 4:07 left in the third quarter. Eastern regained the lead just 17 seconds later, and never trailed again in the third period, leading 38-36 by the end of the quarter.
The Eagles were held scoreless for the first three minutes of the finale, in which the Bobcats hit a three trifectas and a pair of free throws, giving the GHS a 47-38 lead with five minutes to play.
Eastern pulled to within five points, at 55-50, with 30 seconds to play, but the Bobcats hit 4-of-6 free throws over the remainder to seal the 59-50 win.
“We stopped executing the game plan and we stopped executing on offense,” EHS head coach Jeremy Hill said. “We started to not move, I don’t know if that might have been a case of being fatigued, but when you’re playing against a 1-3-1, you have to attack gaps and open seams. You have to find shooting pockets, but there were times when we did do that and we didn’t knock down the shot.”
Eastern won the rebounding battle by a narrow 33-to-30 clip, including a 13-to-12 edge on the offensive glass. However, the Eagles turned the ball over 16 times, while the Bobcats gave possession away 14 times. EHS claimed a 15-to-14 edge in assists, but Green held advantages in both steals (7-to-6) and blocked shots (4-to-3).
The Eagles shot 21-of-59 (35.6 percent) from the field, including just 2-of-15 (13.3 percent) from three-point range. Meanwhile, Green was 17-of-45 (37.8 percent) from the field, including 7-of-16 (43.8 percent) from beyond the arc. From the charity stripe, Eastern was 6-of-10 (60 percent), while the Bobcats were 18-of-28 (64.3 percent), including 12-of-19 (63.2 percent) in the final quarter.
EHS freshman Garrett Barringer led the Eagle offense with 16 points and three assists. Kaleb Hill was next for EHS with a double-double effort of 14 points and 12 rebounds. Jett Facemyer — who joined the EHS 1,000-point club earlier in the season — finished with 11 points, nine boards and three assists in his final high school game.
Jeremiah Martindale scored four points and dished out a game-high five assists for the Eagles. Sharp Facemyer chipped in with three points and three assists, while Corbett Catlett contributed two points and a team-best three steals to the EHS cause. Barringer, Hill and Martindale each blocked a shot for the Eagle defense.
Tanner Kimbler led the Bobcats with 24 points, 18 of which came in the second half. Aaron Johnson posted a double-double of 14 points and 11 rebounds for GHS, while Tayte Carver chipped in with 13 markers. Kimbler and Carver tied for a team-high with four assists each. Rylee Maynard and Justin Deerfield rounded out the Bobcat offense with six and four points respectively.
Alex Hughes led the victors on defense with four steals and a blocked shot, while Johnson posted a game-best three rejections.
Green defeated Eastern in the only regular season meeting between these teams, winning by a 54-37 final, in Franklin Furnace on February 4.
“The effort was there in comparison to the last time we played Green, when we had zero effort,” Coach Hill said. “Tonight we gave good effort, we just didn’t pull it out.”
This marks the final game in the Green, White and Gold for EHS seniors Corbett Catlett, Jeremiah Martindale, John Little and Jett Facemyer.
“The four seniors have given a lot to the program,” Coach Hill said. “Now it’s time for the young ones to step up. The basketball at Eastern is improving. As a community, that should be something you should be proud of, that your program is improving. It’s not staying stagnant and it’s not getting worse.”
This is the second straight season Eastern has improved its win total from the season before.
Green will be back in Larry R. Morrison Gymnasium to face top-seeded Waterford — the Tri-Valley Conference Hocking Division champion — in the sectional final, on Tuesday at 6:15.
Alex Hawley can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2100.