WELLSVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – Wellsville overcame a fierce Columbiana squad to clinch the ITCL White Tier, 75-59.
Columbiana was out for redemption for losing to Wellsville by 22 points on their home floor on Jan. 6. The Clippers played physical defense throughout the contest, forcing four Wellsville turnovers to start the game before the Tigers even attempted a shot from the field.
Columbiana got the Tigers into foul trouble with great offensive execution in the first half. Jace Cartwright provided a quick three-pointer in the second quarter to take the pressure off the starting lineup. The largest lead for the Clippers was five until Jake Green hit a buzzer beater three-pointer to cut the lead to 33-31 heading into halftime. Green finished with 9 points and 4 rebounds.
However, the second half was a completely different story. Garrett Scott emerged for 14 of his 15 points in the second half. Scott scored a plethora of layups in transition to get Wellsville’s offense moving. Justin Miller fought through foul trouble, finishing with 21 points, 9 rebounds, and 8 assists.
The turning point of the game happened when Garrett Scott scrapped for an offensive rebound and made a layup with 2:45 left in the game to push the Tiger lead to 10. Scott had 4 assists and 6 rebounds on the night as well. Wellsville never looked back.
The Clippers had struggles recreating the Tiger foul trouble they forced in the first half. Wellsville managed to not have a team foul until 1:46 left in regulation.
Despite their late woes, the Clippers had a sound, balanced offensive attack throughout the night. Jared Wilson led Columbiana with 16 points, 3 assists, and 2 rebounds. Erik Hopkenziz had 11 points and Burdette Baker tallied 13 points and 5 rebounds. Jake Clark had 8 points on two three-pointers.
“We were a little fatigued but I’m proud of my kids,” Columbiana coach Todd Johnson said. “Wellsville is a great team and we took this game as a personal challenge because of how bad we lost to them earlier this season. We didn’t spread the ball around well in the second half and Wellsville’s speed is tough to keep up with. I am really proud of my guys because we’re young and we always work hard.”
Wellsville head coach David “Bug” Thompson discussed what his team needs to improve on moving forward.
“We played selfish basketball and we need to play better help defense,” he said. “The next man off the bench has to step up and we need to stay out of foul trouble and do whatever it takes to win at Southern Local on Friday.”
Former Southern Local Indians Michael Shope and Branzen Grodhaus contributed greatly for Wellsville Tuesday night. Shope finished with 14 points and 8 rebounds while Grodhaus had 12 points and 9 boards.
“We’ve been starting really slow lately,” Grodhaus said. “We just have to make an effort not to get into foul trouble. I was struggling at this time last year because I was missing shots and I wasn’t playing up to my potential so I decided to practice my shooting ever since football season ended. It would be awesome to finish undefeated in the White Tier with a win over Southern Local on Friday. It’s time to focus in and handle our business heading into the playoffs.”
Wellsville improves to 16-2 as they travel to Southern Local on Friday while Columbiana (7-12) hosts Lisbon.