EBER – It was a “nail-biter” right to the final buzzer, as Wilmington posted a dramatic come from behind victory at Miami Trace Tuesday night, 44-40, in South Central Ohio League action.
The victory improves Wilmington to 9-5 on the season, 7-2 in the SCOL.
With the loss, Miami Trace falls to 11-3 overall and it was the first loss in league play for the Panthers (now 7-1 in the SCOL).
The Hurricane victory avenges an earlier loss to the Panthers, 57-52, in early December at Fred Summers Court.
It was an intense game throughout. There were seven lead changes and numerous ties (2-7-9-11-13-21-39). Wilmington grabbed the lead for good on a driving layup by Jeffery Mansfield, and he was fouled on the shot. Mansfield converted the old-fashioned three point play to put WHS in front, 42-40, with 44 seconds remaining in regulation.
“I’m really proud of the kids for the way they played tonight,” said WHS head coach Mike Noszka after the contest. “Tonight, we had several issues to deal with and Dylan (Beaugard) was battling a 102 degree fever, but he has invested so much in his game that he simply was not going to be denied in playing. Jeffery handled his adversity from the crowd very well and the kids really responded.”
Beaugard, who finished with 12 points (including nine in the first half), broke a 9-9 tie with a buzzer beater off the glass as the first quarter ended. Last-second heroics also enabled WHS to forge a 21-21 tie at halftime, when Mansfield fed Matt Smith for a driving layup at the horn. Smith also reached double figures with 11 points in the contest.
Wilmington pulled ahead in the third period. Smith scored seven of the Hurricane points in the quarter, while Mansfield added five in the period. WHS took a 35-31 lead into the final period of play.
In an extremely low-scoring final period, it appeared as though the hometown Panthers might pull out the win when Deondre Pettiford was fouled on a three-point attempt from the left wing with 1:47 to play. He converted all three free throw attempts to put Miami Trace in the lead, 40-39.
Mansfield converted his three-point play on the ensuing possession and Wilmington held on for the victory. WHS sealed the deal when Mansfield fed Beaugard on a back-door pass with just under eight seconds remaining, for the four-point winning margin.
“This is a well-knit group of determined kids who work extremely hard on getting better,” said Noszka. “They are very deserving of this victory. We strive each day in practice to keep improving and that is our main focus. We have a busy stretch of games. We go to East Clinton Friday night against Tony’s (former WHS assistant coach Berlin) team, and then back at our place against the No. 23 team in the nation and the No. 1 team in the state (Moeller) so it does not get much easier.”
Noszka also requested prayers for the Berlin family, pointing to the sad news that Tony’s mother Betty had passed away earlier in the day.
January 24, 2017
@Miami Trace High School
Wilmington 44 Miami Trace 40
(40) MIAMI TRACE (2fg-3fg-ft-tp) D. Pettiford 0-1-3-6, Carter 1-0-2-4, T. Pettiford 2-1-3-10, Creamer 2-0-0-4, Leach 2-0-2-6, Pittser 1-1-0-5, Tyree 0-1-2-5. TOTALS 8-4-12-40.
(44) WILMINGTON (2fg-3fg-ft-tp) Gauche 1-0-0-2, Smith 4-1-0-11, Beaugard 4-1-1-12, Mansfield 4-1-1-12, Wolary 3-0-1-7. TOTALS 16-3-3-44.
Bill Liermann covers college and high school sports for the News Journal. Follow him on Twitter @lierjet