A masterful effort of basketball by senior Drew Sosby paced Jackson Center past Covington Wednesday and on to the weekend’s championship round to face Fairlawn.
Piqua – I’d bet my farm, all five acres of it, that Drew Sosby never heard of John Singleton Mosby, the old Civil War calvary commander that struck terror into the hearts of Union soldiers during the Civil War.
Sosby was known for his stealth, efficiency of attack, and for vanishing after the fact as quickly as he had suddenly appeared. He earned the nickname “the gray ghost of the Confederacy” – his command respectfully known as “Mosby’s Raiders”!
Wednesday night in the second game of the Division IV sectional semi-finals, Jackson Center senior guard Drew Sosby put on a performance that would have done the old Confederate proud…irrespective that he came and went long before the game of basketball. Sosby scored a game-high 27 points (14 in the first half, 13 in the second) in leading Jackson (20-4) to a 55-31 win over Covington, who finished an upturn season under coach Matt Pond with a 10-14 record.
Sosby hit his first two shots of the game – a pair of three-pointers – connected on 5 of 6 from behind the arc for the game, missed only three shots for the entire night, harassed the Covington backcourt defensively (he had plenty of help), and generally earned the praise of coach Scott Elchert afterwards.
“What I like about Drew tonight was his leadership,” said Elchert. “His experience took over the game right from the get-go. He was locked in, he made right decisions, and he made it easy for his team to just settle in and play. That’s what you need in a game like this one…this time of year players like him just make plays.”
Scott Elchert appreciates the 27 points and the Mosby-like efficiency of Drew Sosby on offense, but the man is obsessive about playing defense, as well, and he couldn’t have been more pleased with how his team throttled Covington in the first 16 minutes. Jackson led 15-4 after one quarter…27-6 at the half.
For their part Covington had some open looks – and good looks – at the basket, but their nemesis of recent years rose up to bite the Buccs where it hurt the worst. They just couldn’t hit those open looks. Only Kenny Atkinson, Trevor Miller, and Nathan Blei were able to score, and the frustration of the moment for Covington only fed Jackson’s appetite to pressure and create more havoc.
“It was a very solid effort defensively,” said Elchert afterwards. “We actually complimented the guys during halftime for executing the defensive game plan, but we had to do it for another half because the first half wasn’t going to make any difference.”
Uh, well, maybe. When you’re shooting 20%, as Covington was, a 21-point margin is a pretty steep hill to climb.
But climb they did, which in the end pleased Matt Pond nearly as much as the prospects for extending his team’s season had he won.
They shot a little better in the second half. Miller, Blei and Zack Parrett each hit third quarter threes to help lift the gloom. And they gave as good as they got defensively. Even with Sosby shooting out the lights, and teammate Brady Wildermuth contributing another 16 points from the paint, they could not run off and leave Covington, despite the 24-point margin at game’s end.
“I’m very proud of this group of kids,” said Pond in the quiet Covington locker room, thirty minutes after the final horn.
“When you look at our league, and our non-league schedule, and the number of close games we played against good basketball teams you have to feel good about that. People will say we didn’t win, but for two years we got pasted by those teams. This team’s made us extremely proud. They never quit, and they competed night in and night out.
“We didn’t shoot well tonight, but we shared the ball and got good looks. And when the shots don’t go in that’s all you can do. I hate to lose as much as anyone. I like to win. But I just told them (his players)…if all you’re thinking about is how many we won you don’t get it. We’ve built a foundation here we can build on.”
Pond has been around, seen his share of great basketball players, and great shooters. He was more than want to compliment Sosby as one of the best.
“He’s a great player. He’s a throwback to other great players you can name because you can tell he’s done the work. He dug us a hole early with the shots he made, but he didn’t take bad shots, either. He knows how to play and he’s a credit to Scott’s program at Jackson Center. Whoever gets him (at the next level) will be getting a great kid.”
For the game Jackson finished hitting 56% of their shots from the floor, but a concern going forward, and one that has followed them throughout the season…only Sosby, Wildermuth, and Ethan Zorn (12 points) scored.
Covington finished with 29% shooting, led by Jordan Maschino (9 points), Blei (7 points), and Miller (5 points). Jayce Pond, Adam Lefeld, Atkinson, and Parrett combined for their remaining 10 points.
Drew Sosby is not one to talk much about himself, or his game. He defers to the system created by Elchert, of tough-minded defense and opportunistic offense.
Yet, when you shoot 80% from the floor (give or take a shot) there is that moment when even he smiled at the satisfaction of playing at such a high level with so much on the line in his final season.
“I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates, but tonight was fun to go out like we did and do what we’ve got to do. They got the ball to me tonight, I felt confident, and when it’s like that I like my chances. Before that was my problem…my confidence hasn’t always been there.”
One area coach said recently that pound-for-pound, Drew Sosby is the best clutch shooter in area basketball…that when he gets his look at the rim, he just doesn’t miss.
“I don’t know what to say about that,” he said sheepishly. “That’s a pretty nice compliment. It takes years and years of practice and thousands of driveway jump shots, and I encourage everyone (who wants to play) to do that.
“But more important we’re playing well right now and I think we’re right where we want to be as a team. We’re clicking at both ends of the floor and our defense is the key component…it’s what gets us going. I’m excited about our chances in the tournament.”
Which is probably more important than even Scott Elchert’s emotions as he prepares to face Fairlawn, who beat Triad earlier Wednesday, in the championship game of the bracket and a trip to next week’s district final in Dayton. Elchert’s the coach, but “Sosby’s Raiders” are the ones that have to execute a game plan with their season on the line.
“Nathan Lessing is the real deal and they (Fairlawn) have been playing well as a team,” said Elchert. “The deal is, he’s been scoring, but the other guys have been stepping up and scoring a lot of points for them, too. We know them, but they know us extremely well, too. It’s the third time we’ve played this season – two Shelby County League teams going head to head for the title.”
Which begs the age-old question…if Sosby and company can play as well Saturday as they played against Covington, does he like his chances?
“I’ll let you know,” said Elchert.