MCDERRMOTT — Any drama that proceeded the No. 7 versus No. 10 matchup quickly evaporated as the higher-ranked Jeeps took control from the outset, making the final result a mere formality.
The outcome was a trip to the sectional championships for South Webster after beating Whiteoak 65-46 in a Division IV Sectional Semifinal match Wednesday at Northwest High School.
Jeeps head coach Ryan Fenton was elated to put the pressures of that first tournament game in the rearview mirror.
“The first three quarters and even early fourth, I was pretty elated,” Fenton said. “I thought we had done some good things and really we shot a lot of layups … Other than the last four or five minutes of the fourth quarter, I thought we played pretty hard and played well.”
The Jeeps began the contest firing on all cylinders, hitting 44 percent of their shots while also hitting 44 percent of their 3-pointers. South Webster led 16-4 after one quarter, expanding the lead to 35-13 at the break. One of Fenton’s goals before the game was starting fast — an objective South Webster was able to accomplish.
“That was one of the biggest goals early on. I said, ‘You’ve got to end their confidence right out of the gates, pressure them defensively, limit them to one shot and take good shots on the other end,’” Fenton said. “I think we did that. We weren’t too rattled with Shane (Zimmerman) being denied (the basketball), we were able to get open looks and settle in.
“We were up 20 or 22 points at the half. We limited them to 13 points in an entire half. That’s a great job defensively … We’ve just got to make sure we sustain that effort for 32 minutes.”
The Wildcats concentrated their efforts to take away Zimmerman’s production but Alex Blevins stepped up to lead South Webster (10-12) by scoring 17 points.
“I thought he had a great performance,” Fenton said. “He’s always been a defensive key for us but we also know he’s much more capable offensively. Seventeen for him is probably where he needs to be every single night. He’s a good little jump shooter, good at attacking the rim. He does a lot of the little things for us, so I’m glad to see him get some points to get himself going.
South Webster will return to Northwest High School to face No. 2 Eastern on Feb. 24.
“They’re in a tough league just like we are,” Fenton said. “We know we’re going to have to bring it to beat a team like that. They’re very athletic. They’ve got good size. They’re tremendously coached by coach (Tom) Barrick who I’ve got a ton of respect for. We’ve got to have a great week of practice.
“I told them the next five days of practice are the most important ones of the year. We’re coming into this understanding that we’re 1-0 and they’re 0-0. We’ve just got to treat this like it’s another game against a really good opponent. We’re capable of winning but we’re going to have to play well and we know that.”
Whiteoak 4 9 11 22 — 46
South Webster 16 19 12 18 — 65
Whiteoak — Skinner 1-0-2, Marler 2-0-4, Burns 3-2-9, McClure 0-2-2, Carraher 5-2-14, Martin 1-0-2, Ashbaugh 5-0-11, Yoager 0-2-2.
South Webster — Shonkwiler 2-0-5, Zimmerman 3-2-10, Bemington 1-2-5, S. Blevins 3-1-7, A. Blevins 7-2-17, Coriell 5-0-10, Hadinger 5-1-11.
Three-point field goals — Whiteoak 4 (Burns, Carraher 2, Ashbaugh); South Webster 5 (Shonkwiler, Zimmerman 2, Bemington, A. Blevins).
Records — Whiteoak N/A; South Webster 10-12.
Reach Chris Slone at 740-353-3101, ext 1930, or on Twitter @crslone.