Devils punch Convo ticket with 58-41 win over Piketon

first_img Devils punch Convo ticket with 58-41 win over PiketonNorth Adams wins first sectional crown since 2013February 27, 2019Mark CarpenterSports0 By Mark Carpenter-It’s been six years but Coach Nathan Copas and his North Adams Green Devils are once again sectional champions, punching their ticket to the Convo in Athens for the first time since 2013 by virtue of a 58-41 win over the Piketon Redstreaks on Saturday night in a Division III sectional final played at Waverly High School.Continuing what has been an outstanding 2018-19 season, the Devils improved to 18-4 overall with the win over Piketon, using a big 13-0 run to close out the first half to pull away and coast home with the 17-point win that sent them on the road to Athens.“I thought that we executed our game plan really well tonight and handled their pressure,” said Coach Copas after the win. “We didn’t want them to dictate the tempo and we had some times that we got away from things but we also got a lot of easy baskets out of what we were doing. Defensively, we played our man really well early in the game and I think when we went zone it threw them off a bit.”“A lot of guys stepped up for us tonight, one through seven that played most of the minutes, all contributed. At this level to win sectional and district games that has to happen. It’s a good win for our program and I’m ecstatic for these guys and now we have a week to prepare for the next one.”That action began rather slow on Saturday night, with the Redstreaks holding the ball for over a minute on their opening possession, then turning the ball over. The streaks did get the game’s first basket on a steal and score by senior Alex Blanton, matched by North Adams on a put back by Cody Rothwell. Piketon attempted to disrupt the North Adams offense with full court pressure but that strategy backfired early when the Devils continually handled the press and got three easy layups from big man Austin McCormick, the last resulting in a three-point play and a 9-6 North Adams lead.A three-point play by Blanton tied the game at 9 apiece, but a three-point goal by Elijah Young plus baskets by Rothwell and Seth Meade propelled the Devils to a 16-13 advantage after the first quarter.Baskets by Rothwell and McCormick to open the second stanza stretched the North Adams lead to seven and their defense for the second eight minute was impressive, holding the Redstreaks to just a single basket, a score by Scott Lightle that cut the Devils’ lead to 20-15, and that was as close as Piketon was going to get. Two McCormick free throws, a drive and score by Jayden Hesler, a basket by Cameron Young, an easy layup off an out of bounds play by Seth Meade, a steal and score by Hesler, a put back by Meade, and a Hesler free throw all combined as part of a 13-0 North Adams run to end the first half that deflated the hopes of the Redstreaks and their faithful and sent the Devils off to the intermission with things comfortably in hand and a 33-15 lead.After the break, the Redstreaks showed some early third quarter signs of life, scoring the first six points to cut the North Adams lead back down to 12, but the Devils responded with back to back scores by Elijah Young and Rothwell to take back control. The Rothwell-Young combo struck again later to extend the Devils’ lead to 43-24, before the Streaks scored five straight to again creep closer. A free throw by Elijah Young closed out the third quarter scoring and though they had won that eight minutes, the Redstreaks still faced a mighty uphill climb, trailing 44-29 as the fourth quarter began.“We lost a little focus at the beginning of the third quarter, maybe that’s part of being a young team,” said Copas. “We gave them a little bit of life by then we fought back.”The large contingent of North Adams fans that filled the Waverly gym began to get a little antsy when Piketon scored the first three points of the final period, but Elijah Young calmed those fears with a big three-point shot and a couple of later free throws that kept the lead at 49-35. After a Piketon basket, any lingering doubts disappeared when the Devils reeled off six straight to up the advantage to 18 with 4:10 to play.With the comfortable lead, Coach Copas was able to empty his bench for the final minutes and the quintet of Seth Vogel, Jentry Crawford, Ethan Campbell, Dalton Gardner, and Isaac Young were on the floor as the final seconds ticked away, Gardner handing the ball to the referee to officially put the final touch on a sectional championship win for the Devils, earning their first net-cutting ceremony since 2013 and the school’s 21st overall sectional title since 1975.In the win, the Devils placed three players in double figures, led by Elijah Young and Austin McCormick, who each tallied 15 points., with Cody Rothwell adding 10. Jayden Hesler’s speed and ball handling were keys tot he win and he also added 8 points, as did sophomore Seth Meade.Piketon was led by their talented senior guard Alex Blanton, who led all scorers with 23 points, with teammate Scott Lightle adding 10.The next stop for the Green Devils will be at Ohio University on Saturday, March 2 at 6:30 p.m. where the road will get a little tougher as they will match up with a number one seed in Division III, the Wheelersburg Pirates, the first time the two schools have ever met in boys basketball.Piketon13 2 14 12 —41North Adams16 17 11 14 —58Piketon (41): Blanton 10 2-5 23, Nichols 1 0-1 2, Lightle 3 4-9 10, Potts 0 1-2 1, Chandler 1 0-0 3, Harris 1 0-0 2, Team 16 7-17 41.N. Adams (58): Hesler 2 4-7 8, C. Young 1 0-4 2, Rothwell 5 0-1 10, S. Meade 4 0-0 8, E. Young 4 5-6 15, C. Meade 0 0-2 0, McCormick 6 3-3 15, Team 22 12-23 58.Three-Point Goals:Piketon (2)- Blanton 1, Chandler 1N. Adams (2)- E. Young 2Closely guarded by a Piketon defender, North Adams’ Cody Rothwell looks for an open teammate during action from the Feb. 23 Division III sectional final game at Waverly. Rothwell scored 10 points as the Devils took down the Redstreaks 58-41. (Photo by Mark Carpenter)North Adams’ Elijah Young cuts down the nets after the Devils’ sectional title win on Feb. 23. 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