Wellsville seniors shine in OVAC semifinal

Justin Miller scored seven of his 17 points in the second quarter

From left to right: Jace Cartwright, Michael Shope, Jake Green, Coach David "Bug" Thompson, Branzen Grodhaus, Justin Miller, Ish Heard. (Credit: Michael Reiner)
From left to right: Jace Cartwright, Michael Shope, Jake Green, Coach David "Bug" Thompson, Branzen Grodhaus, Justin Miller, Ish Heard. (Credit: Michael Reiner)

WELLSVILLE, Ohio (WKBN) – Wellsville cruised to a victory over Trinity Christian Tuesday night, punching their ticket to the OVAC Final by the score of 72-44.

The Tigers marched out to an 8-0 run to start the game. Justin Miller and Branzen Grodhaus both finished with 17 points a piece. Miller finished with 10 assists and seven rebounds while Grodhaus had six assists and six boards.

Trinity Christian managed to cut the deficit to 20-14 at the end of the first quarter where they held Justin Miller scoreless. Joel Robertson had six points on two three-pointers. Kellen Alderman also had two shots from behind the arc. Alderman finished with eight points.

Justin Miller scored seven of his 17 points in the second quarter. Branzen Grodhaus executed a thrilling behind the back pass to Michael Shope to build the Tiger lead to double digits with under 4 minutes left in the half. Shope humorously explained that he believed Grodhaus traveled on the play. Grodhaus strongly disagreed. Shope finished with 12 points, six rebounds, and two assists.

Grodhaus made his first three-point shot since December 6 with one minute left in the half. This shot caught Warriors head coach, John Fowkes off guard.

“We never saw Grodhaus make a three-pointer on film so that caught us by surprise. They didn’t have a true post player so they pushed the ball and got it to their open shooters.”

The Warriors’ offensive struggle continued in the second half. Trinity Christian was held to seven points in the third quarter. Joseph Zini had four of his eight points in the quarter. Briston Bennett had seven points off the bench.

Garrett Scott and Jake Green played tight defense on the perimeter for the Tigers. Scott finished with 13 points and three rebounds while Jake Green had six points and six boards.

Caleb Jenkins scored seven of his team-high nine points in the fourth quarter. Justin Miller scored his final six points at the beginning of the final quarter. Jace Cartwright came into the game with under two minutes left in regulation. Cartwright shot a deep, bank shot three-pointer to put the game out of reach. Cartwright later confirmed that he did indeed “call bank.”

Fowkes was amused by the pride that the community of Wellsville showed for its Senior Night.

“We like to believe that we are a good defensive team, but the focus just wasn’t there tonight. When we entered this gym we saw Wellsville really rally around its team. They wanted it more than we did.”

Tigers head coach, David “Bug” Thompson, expressed his thoughts about his team going forward.

“It was great to see Cartwright knock one down tonight. The Seniors played great because big players step up in big games. It helps to play against teams that we haven’t seen before so we can be ready for the playoffs.”

Tigers Senior, Ish Heard, expressed his thoughts on his final regular-season game in his hometown.

“I love the game of basketball so much. We had a really good team in 2014 when we last made it to the OVAC Final. They played a key part in me loving the game. I always want to play hard because I love the community we play for. Now it’s time to go win that championship.”

Wellsville improves to 18-2 heading into the OVAC Final at Ohio University Eastern campus where they will square off with Weirton Madonna. Trinity Christian falls to 9-10 as they travel to Bishop Donahue for the OVAC Consolation game.

The Tigers also won the jayvee game 57-47. Justin Wright had 18 points for Wellsville.

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