Paden City Boys Tip-Off Classic Gets Underway Dec. 19
Paden City hosted the boys’ edition of its Annual Bob and Sharon Burton Tip-Off Classic Dec. 19-20 in spectacular fashion as fans filled the gymnasium to near-capacity both evenings.
Nearby schools Valley and St. Marys brought good crowds to watch their respective schools while Meadow Bridge, representing Fayette County, made the trip north.
The four-team tournament started on Friday evening with St. Marys winning big and advancing to the championship.
Then it was time for the rivalry game between the Wildcats and Lumberjacks, and they didn’t disappoint. Anyone looking for an exciting game easily got his or her money’s worth, as it went down to the final seconds with Valley escaping with a narrow 62-56 victory.
“I didn’t know what to expect, starting three sophomores and a senior,” said Valley Head Coach John Kocher. “I didn’t know how they would react in this type of atmosphere, but they stepped up.”
The Wildcats started off by putting ‘Jacks’ fans on edge after going up initially 12-3 after Malakai Anderson stole the ball and proceeded to score on a layup and an additional foul shot. Valley would finally get the wheels moving after Jacob Smith’s eight first-quarter points brought the ‘Jacks within two. But, Wes Cosper scored just before the buzzer and gave Paden City a 14-10 lead at the horn.
Smith would provide Valley with a 17-14 lead after hitting a 3-pointer in the early goings of the second quarter, before both teams battled back and forth the rest of the half. The Wildcats recaptured the lead before going to the locker rooms with a 26-25 margin, largely in part to Anderson’s eight points in the quarter before the break.
In the final two quarters, Paden City would find itself with a few eight-point leads, but each time Valley was able to sneak back into the game. Eventually, they would reverse the situation and go up 59-50 as the minutes wound down.
The Wildcats weren’t completely out of it as they hit two straight three point shots to close the gap to a single possession. But, missed opportunities forced Paden City to foul and send Valley to the free throw line where they put the game out of reach.
“That right there is youth,” Kocher said. “I called the time out there with a 1:30 seconds left to specifically tell them that we needed to keep running the clock. We didn’t need to score. We’d have to make them foul us and win the ball game from the foul line. A couple sophomores took some shots, but that’s growing pains, I guess. They’re going to get better. They’re going to learn from this.”
Smith finished with a game-high 28 points in leading the ‘Jacks to victory. Twelve of those points came on 3-point shots. “We had Jacob start down low and we were going to double pick,” Kocher said of his high scorer. “He could hit six feet beyond the 3-point line. He had an excellent game.”
Valley was also aided by Alex Henderson with eight points, Matthew Poling with seven, Garrett Ueltschy and Dustin Bickerstaff with six each, Jeremiah Burch with five, and Ronald Morris with two.
Paden City was paced by Anderson with 19 points. He had a strong game all around as he recorded five assists, three blocks, and four steals.
Ricky Wright and Ryan Thoburn also scored in double figures with 13 points each. Cosper finished with six and Josh Bennett added one.
Both teams had drastically different games the next evening for the consolation and championship games.
Paden City drew Meadow Bridge first in the consolation game for a battle of the Wildcats.
The Green and White hit 10 3-pointers, with eight of them coming in the first half that provided them with a lead they would not surrender.
By the end of the first half, they were soundly in control with a 40-16 lead. In the second half, they went to an inside game. When all was said and done, Paden City defeated Meadow Bridge with a 69-40 decision.
“The difference between Friday and Saturday night was that on Friday, we couldn’t get our shots to go down,” said Head Coach Fred King. “The first half on Saturday, our shots went down. As a result we were able to do just about anything we wanted to do.”
Anderson finished with the game-high of 21, with 15 coming in the second stanza. Wright finished with 19 points that included five 3-pointers. Cosper also scored in double figures with 16 points. Thoburn finished with seven, Chris Loy with four, and Zach Yost with two.
Anderson and Wright were both named to the all-tournament team.
“We felt we couldn’t match up with them going in,” King mentioned. “So we went with a half-court press and made them make more passes than they wanted to and they started turning the ball over.
“Our kids may not be very big or fast, but they run very disciplined sets and I am very pleased with this win.”
In the nightcap, Valley gave a high-powered St. Marys squad all they could handle for the first half before the Blue Devils fully came together and won by a score of 92-65.
At halftime, the ‘Jacks were down by only four 43-39.
Smith had another strong game with 27 points and earned every single one according to St. Marys’ Coach Mark Barnhart.
“Valley has an outstanding player in Jacob Smith, but we were able to stay with him and keep working him in the second half and made him work for everything that he got,” said the Blue Devils coach.
Henderson finished with 18 for the ‘Jacks, followed by 12 by Poling. Smith and Henderson were also named to the all-tournament team.
The Paden City boys played their first game of the season Dec. 17 as they played Bishop Donahue after the original date was postponed due to weather. The Bishops ended up scoring the first victory over the Wildcats by a 62-46 verdict.
The ‘Cats were down seven at the end of one, but the lead deficit doubled by halftime. They were able to win the third quarter and cut the lead to nine, but Bishop took the final quarter 15-8 to set up the final score.
Wright finished with a team high 14 points, followed by Anderson with 12. Cosper tallied nine, Thoburn netted eight, Loy scored two, and Josh Bennett scored one.