GREENFIELD — Wilmington jumped out to an early 10-point first quarter lead, but the upset-minded McClain Tigers kept it relatively close the final three quarters before the Hurricane posted a 43-27 victory in South Central Ohio League play on Tuesday night.
At the intermission, Wilmington held a 22-8 advantage, but came out of the lockerroom ice-cold while McClain chipped away at the deficit. After three periods, Wilmington’s lead was at single digits, 29-20.
Dylan Beaugard, who led the Hurricane with 14 points, converted an old-fashioned three-point play early in the fourth quarter stretching the lead back to double figures, 32-20.
Wilmington converted its free throws down the stretch to seal the win. Although it was not a pretty win, Wilmington head coach Mike Noszka was pleased his team performed much better at the free throw line and reached back for something extra in the final period, outscoring the Tigers by a 14-7 margin.
“Tonight we took some steps forward, but took a few steps backwards,” he said.
He was not, however, pleased with the ’Cane effort on the defensive boards in the second half.
“Our box-outs tonight in the second half were terrible. We allowed them to score 11 points off offensive rebounds. If we’re gonna be a championship-caliber team, that must change. We strive to make it zero,” he said.
Matt Smith reached double figures with 12 points, including six points in the first and fourth quarters, while Jeffery Mansfield had 13 points. His fourth quarter effort was hampered by foul trouble and was held scoreless in the final period.
“We’ve got to have more contributions from everyone. It’s not just scoring … it’s the little things like Curtis (Gauche) diving for loose balls and hustling up and down the floor. We need more of that,” said Noszka. “The bottom line is this … We must get better in practice and practice with a purpose.”
McClain coach Jesse Mitchell was pleased with his squad’s effort.
“Our team chemistry is getting better and we are learning how to play together,” Mitchell said. “We’re very young, starting a freshman (Dylan Mischall) and have great senior leadership from people like Jacob Starkey and Matt Barton. Right now we’ve got to keep playing hard and we have a tough schedule with four games in just one week.”
Starkey led the McClain attack with eight points, while Barton and Landrae Gray scored six points each. After the opening period, McClain kept the margin close, with Wilmington outscoring the Tigers by only six points, 27-21.
McClain travels to Chillicothe on Friday and faces Jackson on Saturday while Wilmington plays its home opener Friday night at Fred Summers Court, hosting Miami Trace.
December 6, 2016
@McClain High School
Wilmington 43 McClain 27
(43) WILMINGTON (fg-3fg-ft-tp) McIntosh 0-0-0-0 Gauche 1-0-0-2 Smith 5-0-2/4-12 Beaugard 4-0-6/10-14 Mansfield 3-1-6/8-13 Wolary 1-0-0-2 Evans 0-0-0-0 Wright 0-0-0-0. TOTALS 14-1-14/22-43
(27) McCLAIN (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Dean 0-0-0-0 Starkey 3-0-2/4-8 Barton 3-0-0-6 Mischal 2-0-0-4 Gray 3-0-0-6 O’Conner 0-0-0-0 Kraff 0-0-0-0 Beatty 1-0-1/2-3. TOTALS 12-0-3/6-27
Bill Liermann covers high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet