MT. ORAB — In a bump and grind sectional tournament game, East Clinton’s season ended Tuesday with a 49-47 loss to Clermont Northeastern at Western Brown High School.
The Astros finish at 12-9. They defeated Clermont Northeastern twice during the regular season (46-43 at CNE and 52-45 at EC) but could not make it three.
“It’s hard to beat a team three times in a season,” EC head coach Phil Shori said after the game.
The Astros advanced to this point by defeating Williamsburg for a third time this season.
“First winning season since 2012, first tournament win since 2004 … look how far you’ve come,” Shori told his dejected team in the lockerroom. “No one expected you to do anything. Everybody has written you off. What do you have to lose? And they bought in to that. They weren’t going to be the dog mat any more.”
Shori said senior Quinten Tolle (7 points, 6 rebounds, 6 assists) and Branson Smith (10 points, 4 steals) were instrumental in the resurgent season.
“They were great assets to me,” he said. “They are two of the greatest seniors I’ve ever be3en around and it may not even be close.”
Clermont Northeastern, 7-15, moves on to play Noon Saturday at WB against either Seven Hills or No. 1 seed Cincinnati Taft.
As for the physical play, Shori said there are no soft calls in the post-season.
“It’s tournament play now,” he said. “You’re not going to get the hand-check calls. You’re not going to get easy call you get in the regular season.”
The Rockets launched early, leading 6-1 as Mason Martin had the hot hand with five points. Quinten Tolle had a stickback but Clermont Northeastern pushed its advantage to 13-5 on a Austin Yeager three.
East Clinton made a late first quarter push. The Smith Brothers — first Branson then Jared — hit twos. Tolle had a dandy steal and assist to Dakota Collom (10 points) for a layin that made it 13-11 CNE and EC was in the midst of a 14-4 run.
The Astros were within one on a three by Jared Smith (17 points, 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 2 steals, 2 blocks) and again on a steal and layup by Branson Smith. Shori’s iron-five took the lead for the first time when Branson Smith had a steal and fed Tolle who crashed the basket for two and a free throw. It was 19-17 EC. Branson’s three made it 23-19 with 33 seconds to go in the half. The Astros settled for a 23-21 advantage at the break.
The EC offense just couldn’t get in sync for most of the game. Landon Runyon took a charge and later hit a three to give the Astros a 33-26 lead with 2:28 to go in the third. Tolle to Jared Smith made it 39-29 with 59 seconds to play in the third.
East Clinton’s lead was still seven, 43-36, with 5:03 to play in the fourth when Collom scored in close.
But the Astros offense just never got in sync in this one. After 10 turnovers in the first three quarters, EC had nine turnovers in the fourth alone. Jared Smith’s basket off a wing drive made it 47-42 EC with just over two minutes to go. The Astros never scored again.
“We didn’t close them out,” Shori said. “We didn’t pull away. They hit shots to stay close.”
Feb 23, 2021
Division 3 Sectional
@Western Brown High School
Clermont NE 49 East Clinton 47
(49) CLERMONT NORTHEASTERN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Yeager 4-1-0-9 Pottorf 1-0-1-3 Reece 3-2-6-14 Martin 7-1-0-15 House 4-0-0-8 Hopkins 0-0-0-0 Fishback 0-0-0-0 Mott 0-0-0-0 TOTALS 19-4-7-49
(47) EAST CLINTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) B. Smith 4-1-1-10 Collom 5-0-0-10 J. Smith 7-1-2-17 Runyon 1-1-0-3 Tolle 3-0-1-7 Arnold 0-0-0-0 TOTALS 20-3-4-47
FIELD GOALS: EC 20/44; CNE 19/48
3 PT FIELD GOALS: EC 3/13; CNE 4/18
FREE THROWS: EC 4/6; CNE 7/12
REBOUNDS: EC-24 (J. Smith 6, Tolle 6, Collom 4, B. Smith 3, Runyon 2); CNE-28 (House 12, Martin 5, Pottorf 4)
ASSISTS: EC-12 (Tolle 6, J Smith 2, Collom 2, B Smith 1 Runyon 1); CNE-10 (Reece 3, Martin 3)
STEALS: EC-8 (B. Smith 4 J. Smith 2 Collom 1 Tolle 1); CNE-10 (Yeager 5 Martin 3)
BLOCKED SHOTS: EC-3 (J. Smith 2); CNE-4 (House 3)
TURNOVERS: EC-19; CNE-18
Reach Mark Huber at 937-556-5765, via email firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @wnjsports