Lehman took advantage of cold-shooting Covington before Jackson Center smothered Mississinawa Valley in the opening round of the Division Four sectional at Piqua High School.
Piqua – The Jackson Center Tigers had not lost in the opening round of the sectional tournament at Garbry Gym since 2009.
With Bryce Sosby playing shutdown defense on Mississinawa Valley star Ethan Bowman, Jackson Center hit 6 first half three pointers and went on to rout the Blackhawks 47-21, stretching that opening round winning streak to 9 games.
“We knew it was going to take a great defensive effort, especially on the Bowman kid,” said Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert after the Tigers improved to 14-9. “He was averaging about 18 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists a game, but I thought Bryce Sosby did a great job on him all night.”
Christopher Elchert hit a pair of threes to get the Tigers off to a quick 8-2 advantage. Bowman hit a three to start the second quarter to get the Blackhawks to within 13-9.
At that point, the Tigers took over on both ends of the floor.
Sosby hit a pair of threes and Trent Platfoot hit one from deep as the Tigers scored the final 11 points of the first half. Another Platfoot three to start the second half, along with hoops by Sosby and Aidan Reichert pushed the lead to 22 before Josh Fett broke the streak with a pair of free throws. The Blackhawks, who finished at 11-11, never got closer than 19 the rest of the way.
Platfoot, a 5-11 junior, finished the night with 17 points, including three triples, to lead the Tigers. Sosby also hit a trio of threes on his way to an 11-point night. Bowman led the Blackhawks with 8 points, some 10 below his season average.
“Trent played great,” praised his coach. “When he was a freshman, all he could do was shoot the three. Now he has upgraded his game where he can score off the dribble, he can stop and pop, he can get to the rim. He is just starting to understand all the different tools he has offensively.”
Jackson finished the night 18-36 from the floor for 50%, including 8 of 15 from th arc for 53%. One downer was the Tigers’ free throw shooting; 3 of 7 for 43%.
Mississinawa simply had a miserable night shooting the basketball. The Hawks were 7 of 31 from the floor for 23% and 3 of 14 from the arc for 21% Mississinawa did shoot 67% from the line, but only made 6 trips to the line.
The Tigers also dominated the glass, 29-17, and had 8 turnovers to 11 for the Blackhawks.
“Our kids have bought in to playing defense as the best way to put ourselves in position to win every night,” Elchert explained. “These guys are into winning. They have bought into the fact that we have to be great defenders as a team. We aren’t going to guard you for 92 feet. We are going to get back and guard you in the half-court.
“We have also subscribed to the thought that we have to have good movement on offense, make that extra pass. We did that tonight. We made I don’t know how many extra passes. There were times when guys were open but thought we could get a better shot. Fortunately, we were able to knock those shots down tonight.”
In the opening game of the evening—Lehman took control early in the second half and eliminated cold-shooting Covington 54-44.
“We got off to a great start, then Kam Lee got in foul trouble and that really hurt us,” said Lehman coach Tim Gleason. “I was pretty pleased with the way we played, with the exception of the final three minutes or so, when we let some things get to us.”
Brad Wiggins got the Buccs on the board with a three 15 seconds in, but that was the Buccs biggest lead of the night. Kam Lee scored 6 points to spark a 10-0 Lehman run and a 15-6 advantage late in the opening quarter.
Covington chipped away and finally took the lead at 21-20 on a Zach Parret basket. Lehman got back to back hoops from Brendan O’Leary and Seth Roe to regain the lead at the break 24-21.
Lee and Preston Rodgers opened the second half with baskets for the Cavaliers, and Lehman led by 13 with 3:35 to play. Braden Miller hit a 3 to spark a 7-point run for the Buccs, but Lee made four straight free throws in the final minute to close it out for the Cavs.
Lee led all scorers with 18 for Lehman, while Rodgers scored 14 and Roe added 13. Miller had 13 and Wiggins had 12 for Covington, which closed the season at 5-18.
The game featured a couple of statistical oddities. Covington was a woeful 18 of 67 from the floor for 27% while Lehman was 22 of 41 for 54%. Covington made 7 three pointers, while the Cavaliers were 0-7 behind the arc. Covington out rebounded Lehman 17-8 off the offensive glass and lost by 10. Also, Lehman had 19 turnovers to Covington’s 8, and still won.
Next up for the 9-14 Cavaliers is a Tuesday night date with second seeded Russia.
“They are very fundamentally sound,” Gleason said of the Raiders. “We are going have to play very disciplined, take care of the ball, and we are going to have to rebound. Russia has a reputation for being a great rebounding team, and that is going to be a very important part of the game.
Jackson Center will face Fairlawn for the third time this season in the semifinals Tuesday night. The Jets beat Triad 58-45 in the final game on Friday at Garbry Gym. The Tigers beat the Jets twice during the regular season and eliminated Fairlawn in the sectional finals last season.
“We had a really strong February,” Elchert said as he headed back toward the gym. “I think this team is capable of making a run, because I do believe that you have to be able to defend at this time of year. We also talk about the tradition we have here at Jackson Center. We tell them that when they put that uniform on, it better mean something to them. This is what we have been building for all season.”