PDT Sports Writer
LUCASVILLE — Rubber matches provide a chance at bragging rights for a certain amount of time.
For the third time in 14 days, Green and East clashed on the hardwood, this time with a chance at a trip to Athens on the line. Despite a strong surge in the middle two periods, the No. 3 Tartans used stronger bookend periods to knock out the No. 6 Bobcats 55-46 in Tuesday’s Division IV Southeast Sectional Championship at Valley High School.
“We ran a couple of extra things tonight that we thought would work on them,” East coach Adam Bailey said. “At times, I think it did but pretty much overall, I think both teams pretty much (did) what we had done to each other in the first two games.
“We wanted to pound it inside and we did that at times. When we did that, we were real effective offensively and other times in the game, we weren’t as patient. We took some quick shots that we don’t want to do.”
The Tartans received another strong night from their two biggest horses as senior Patrick Bias led all scorers with 24 points and 18 rebounds while classmate Justin Crager added 15 and 11. The duo were a combined 12-of-17 from the floor on the night.
Green coach Bobby Blanton knew those numbers were a recipe for trouble.
“I think Crager came out ready to play, came out and hit some big shots tonight,” Blanton said. “I think he was more consistent tonight.”
East grabbed a 17-6 lead after one period of play. The Tartans were 53 percent from the field while holding their opponents to a 20 percent clip. East also enjoyed a 12-8 margin in rebounds.
The Bobcats started to make their move early in the second with a 7-2 run to cut it to an 18-14 deficit. Trent Marcum had five of his team-high 17 points in the frame.
“I thought they really out hustled us (in) the first half,” Bailey said.
Green kept chipping away, eventually taking a 26-25 lead with under six minutes to go in the third after Marcum connected on the second of his two 3-pointers of the night. It was the only lead the Bobcats would enjoy on the night as East rattled off eight of the game’s next 10 points.
“They just hit shots when they needed to and we didn’t hit shots when we needed to,” Blanton said.
Green made one final push early in the fourth to trim the margin to a 41-39 affair. Unfortunately, the Bobcats would go three for their final 14 from the field.
“Overall, I thought we finished well,” Bailey said. “I just thought there were times in the game where we just had some lapses that at this time in the tournament, you can’t have too many of them or you’re not going to be playing tomorrow.”
Joining Marcum in double figures was Clay Applegate with 10. The Bobcats will graduate Steven Blanton, Tyler Crace and Rob Applegate.
As for the Tartans, they will take on the winner of the No. 7 Waterford-No. 2 Symmes Valley game March 4 at Ohio University’s Convocation Center. If the higher-seeded Vikings win, another rubber match will be set up between SOC I foes.
Cody Leist can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 294, or email@example.com.
Green — Blanton 2-0-4, R. Applegate 3-0-7, C. Applegate 4-1-10, Crace 4-0-8, Marcum 6-3-17, Totals 19-4-46.
East — Crager 4-7-15, Siebert 1-0-3, Russell 1-0-2, Bradford 3-3-9, Bias 8-8-24, Basham 1-0-2, Totals 18-18-55.
3-Point Goals — Green 4 (Marcum 2, R. Applegate, C. Applegate); East 1 (Siebert).
Records — Green 8-15; East 16-7.