ZOAR — Seeking a trip to the Division III district, Barnesville High fell behind early and could not recover Friday night dropping a 74-46 decision to host No. 4 seed Tuscarawas Valley in a Division III sectional co-final.
A talented, athletic Trojans’ squad simply seemed to overwhlem the ‘Rocks in the opening quarter en route to quickly taking the upper hand in the sectional match-up by a 21-3 margin following the opening quarter.
“We had no answer for their length and no answer for their size,” Barnesville head coach Matt Johnson said. “We fought hard, but we just couldn’t get looks (offensively) other than deep 3s.”
Tusky Valley’s defensive pressure helped to force Barnesville into a whopping 14 turnovers in the opening eight minutes, leading directly to numerous easy buckets at the other end for the host Trojans.
“You can’t simulate what other things do,” Johnson said. “What we were doing (in practice) looked good, but when we got out on the court here, the floor really shrinks because they’re so long. We had trouble getting the ball where we wanted to get it, but when we did we got good looks, but we couldn’t do that with consistency and that’s a credit to them.”
Barnesville made a little push in the second stanza to pull within 12 at a point, but Tusky Valley responded to extend the lead back out to a comfortable 39-17 at the halftime break.
Tusky Valley played close attention defensively to Barnesville All-Ohioan senior Luke Powell, who entered the night with a 33 point per outing scoring average.
Powell still managed to score 24 points to lead the Shamrocks, but he worked hard for all of those, including burying some really deep treys, including one just a dribble inside of halfcourt.
The loss bring an end to Powell’s stellar Barnesville basketball career, and he will next move on to the collegiate level next season at West Liberty University.
“It was my pleasure to be here for three years with Luke,” Johnson said. “He’s a close, family friend, so it’s hard to see him go. He means a lot to this program. He and Payne (Johnson) are part of something that’s never been done in this program (last year’s OVAC title).”
Powell finishes with 2,374 career points to rank as Barnesville’s all-time leader, and he ranks fifth in OVAC boys history and 17th in Ohio history.
Tusky Valley was led by senior Sam Ray with 26 points. Owen Miller and Nathan Glaser added 15 and 11, respectively.
The Trojans will return to action Tuesday in a district semifinal at Claymont against top-seeded Ridgewood.
Division III Semi-FInal
Barnesville 65, Coshocton 56
BARNESVILLE —High-scoring Barnesville High senior standout Luke Powell got a little help from his friends on Tuesday in a 65-56 home court victory over Coshocton in a Division III sectional semi-final match-up.
Powell came in averaging more than 30 points per game, Barnesville's scoring ace has been a marked man for much of his 2,000-point career. It was no different on Tuesday.
This time, he also had some much-needed help.
Powell's game-high 28 points was five below his average, but the host Shamrocks had five others score at least six points as they pulled away late for the victory to advance to Friday to take on No. 4 seed Tuscarawas Valley for a berth in the district.
Powell hit four of his five 3-pointers in the second half, two coming in the pivotal 12-2 run to start the fourth quarter. But it was a steal and a dunk in the final minute of the third quarter, with his team trailing 41-39, that shifted momentum.
Four different players hit 3s for Barnesville, which also made 12 of 18 free throws in the second half.
Sophomores Kason Powell added 10 points, Jeremy Hunkler and Colton Hines seven each and juniors Evan Hudson and Cage Hannahs six apiece for Barnesville. They combined for four 3s and 13-of-17 free-throw shooting.