By Kevin Colley
PDT Sports Contributor
JACKSON — When a team is able to overcome sizable deficits in the amount of 3-pointers made and the amount of turnovers committed to win a contest, that usually means that the aforementioned team has shown great wherewithal in the contest.
That’s exactly what No. 2 South Point showed Saturday evening as the Pointers overcame a 13-7 deficit in the turnover department and a 6-0 margin on 3-pointers to knock No. 10 Waverly out of postseason competition and win a Division III sectional championship 37-27 at Jackson High School.
Although a tough shooting day from the field (22 percent) victimized the Tigers in the end, coach Travis Robertson was pleased with his team’s effort, especially from a defensive standpoint.
“I thought our kids played really hard defensively,” Robertson said. “We took away a lot of the things that (South Point) wanted to do that makes them successful.
“The bottom line is that we weren’t able to score on the offensive end. We had some good looks, including some open shots at the rim, but it just wasn’t our night offensively.”
Pierce Knisley and Aaron Heibel, however, were able to provide a major lift for Waverly in scoring. The senior guards scored the first 19 Waverly points in the contest and also accounted for all six of the Tigers’ 3-pointers.
The first basket that was not recorded by Knisley or Heibel came on Daniel Heffner’s bank shot with 6:09 to play in the game.
“Those two have led us in scoring for the majority of our games over the course of the season,” Robertson said. “… We just didn’t have a very good shooting night tonight and it came back to bite us toward the end of the game when we only down four or five (points). We had to overextend our defense, which isn’t what we wanted to do against (South Point), and obviously, the result is that they can get in transition and get some easy (baskets).”
South Point’s length also bothered Waverly on the glass as the Tigers were outrebounded by a 35-14 margin on the glass for the contest.
“They’re huge,” Robertson said. “One of the things that we had to key on was being able to box out and rebound with them, and I thought that we did a decent job on (the boards).”
Waverly was able to counter that advantage by only turning the ball over once in the first quarter as the Tigers held an 11-9 lead after the frame’s conclusion.
“That was one of our keys,” Robertson said. “We wanted to make sure that (South Point) was guarding us and we wanted to have long possessions if possible.
“Transition-wise, we wanted to push hard in transition and get something at the rim or a wide-open three, if not, we wanted to pull it out and run the offense in the half court. I thought we made some pretty good decisions on that.”
Despite the outcome, Robertson has plenty of positive thoughts about his team’s performance.
“I told them in the locker room that I was proud of them,” Robertson said. “I thought that tonight was probably the best defensive effort that we’ve given over the entire season. We haven’t won as many games as we had hoped for this season, but those guys stuck together and were able to come together to win a sectional game and then they gave the No. 2 seed everything they wanted, so I was really proud of them.”
Waverly was able to overcome a two-point second frame to pull within three at the conclusion of the third frame via two consecutive 3-pointers from Knisley. He connected on his fifth 3-pointer of the game with just over five minutes to play in the contest to cut the lead to two after the Pointers’ Brandon Boggs scored on a put back.
However, South Point locked Waverly down over the rest of the contest by going on an 11-3 spurt, which was capped when the Pointers’ John Johnson was fouled after a steal with his team up 34-27 late in the contest.
The foul was ruled a clear path foul, which gave South Point two free throws and the ball with 39.9 to play in the game.
Johnson hit both free throws after the foul and nailed the front end on the ensuing one-and-one to set the winning margin after Johnson was fouled on the next possession in an attempt to stop the clock.
With the victory, the Pointers will play No. 3 Portsmouth next Sunday’s Division III Southeast District Semifinal at Ohio University’s Convocation Center.
The contest will also be a rematch of a Dec. 17 meeting in South Point, which was won by the Pointers 76-58.
Waverly 11 2 6 8 – 27
South Point 9 8 5 15 – 37
Waverly – Rinehart 1-0-2, Knisley 5-0-15, Heffner 1-0-2, Heibel 2-3-8, Totals 9-3-27.
South Point – Johnson 2-3-7, Harlow 1-1-3, Barnes 4-0-8, Ketron 4-3-11, Richard 2-0-4, Boggs 2-0-4, Totals 15-7-37.
3-Point Goals – Waverly 6 (Knisley 5, Heibel); South Point none.
Records – Waverly 10-14, South Point 14-6.