JACKSON — Losing in a thriller earlier this month, the Minford Falcons reversed their luck and defeated the Chesapeake Panthers 43-39 in the Division III Southeast Section Finals. The Falcons, who lost to the Panthers 44-42 on Feb. 5 in the regular season, used a key defensive stop in the final minute to assure the victory.
“They’re a great disciplin good defensive team anytime you can beat Chespeake we’re happy.” Minford coach Josh Shoemaker said.
Two weeks later and the game was nearly as close, but with a reversal of fortune for the boys from Minford. The two evenly matched foes went toe-to-toe throughout the game using big shot after big shot as the battle went to the finish line.
“It feels great, I’m happy for the seniors,” Shoemaker said. “We dug ourselves a hole and they buckled down and played good defense in the second half.”
Minford was able overcome seven 3-pointers — including six from Javon Thompson of Chesapeake — to comeback from a 26-18 deficit in the first half. Jared McCray, who finished the game with 13 points and 10 rebounds, finished an and-1 play with 1:52 remaining to give the Falcons a 39-37 lead.
“He was able to play through the physicality of the game and he does a great job of running the floor and being patient,” Shoemaker said. “it was hard getting the ball to him but when he touched it he made them count.”
With the teams tied at 39 in the final minute, Austin McBee grabbed an offensive rebound and put the ball back up and in to give Minford 41-39 lead
However, with the the Panthers looking to tie the game once more, the Falcons swarmed the Panthers with full-court pressure, forcing an over-and-back to force the biggest turnover of the evening.
“That defensive stop was set up by Austin McBee,” Shoemaker said. “His leadership in the second half gave us the win.”
Cody Stapleton and Kenton Guillon iced the game with free throws. The victory pushed Minford past their exit point of postseason play a season ago, a loss in the Division III Southeast Sectional Final against Valley High School.
“Stapleton hit two big foul shots and was able to seal the game,” Shoemaker said.
Minford will play No. 8 Crooksville, who upset No. 1 Nelsonville-York 54-46 at Athens High School earlier in the evening.
“They play in a very tough league and their record doesn’t show how good they are,” Shoemaker said.
The two will meet in the Division III District Semifinals at Ohio University, which will be played in the Convocation Center next Saturday at approximately 3:30 p.m.
Minford - 6 10 16 11 43
Chesapeake - 12 12 8 7 39
Minford: McCray 6-1-13, McBee 5-1-13, Howard 0-3-3, Stapleton 1-2-5, Farrar 1-0-2, Gullion 3-0-8
Totals - 17-7-43
Chesapeake: Heffner 2-2-6, Thompson 8-2-24, Saunders 1-0-3, Meadows 3-0-6
Totals - 14-4-39
3-pointers - Minford 5 (McBee 2, Stapleton 1, Gullion 2); Chesapeake (Thompson 6, Saunders 1)
Records - Minford 19-4; Chesapeake 17-6
Minford 6 10 16 11 — 43
Chesapeake — 12 128 7 — 39