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Big Red hangs on to claim Division II sectional title

GOING UP STRONG — Steubenville’s James Roundtree is fouled on a shot attempt against Philo in a Division II sectional co-final on Saturday. Also shown is Big Red’s Jordan Zimmerman. (Joe Catullo)

STEUBENVILLE — Senior leadership does mean a lot, and Big Red got plenty of it Saturday night in clinching a Division II sectional championship via a 60-52 victory over Philo inside the Crimson Center.

Three seniors (Josh Zimmerman, James Roundtree and Jorian Jones) delivered double-digit performances, while a fourth (Jordan Wallace) just missed, as third-seeded Steubenville improved to 17-5 and advanced to this week’s district semifinals. Big Red will play Harrison Central, the sixth seed, Wednesday at a site to be determined by the OHSAA. The Huskies stayed alive with a 59-35 win over Claymont.

Philo, coached by former Buckeye Local bench boss Greg Haberfield, drops the curtain at 12-12.

“That was a hard fought win against a solid basketball team,” Big Red coach Mike Haney said after watching his players cut down the nets to celebrate the sectional title. “Coach Haberfield does a great job with his guys. They came in here ready to play and gave us everything we could handle.

“Come tournament time, you really need your seniors to come through, and our guys did that tonight. Hopefully, they continue to deliver for us.”

Big Red used a 7-0 scoring run midway through the opening quarter to grab a 13-4 lead. Senior Ryan Rauch got it going when he drained a triple, and Wallace finished it with a steal and score. The Electrics scored the final six points of the period (6-foot-7 freshman A.J. Clayton had a conventional 3-point play, then Jackson Hargraves connected from behind the arc) to make it 15-13 Big Red.

A Clayton bucket early in the second tied things at 20. Big Red answered by scoring seven straight. Jones had a put-back, Roundtree the hoop and the harm, and Calvin Bickerstaff drained two free throws. Zimmerman got a steal late and beat the buzzer with a layup, giving Big Red a 31-22 advantage at the intermission.

Steubenville was up 39-28 midway through the third when Philo senior Cody Butler scored seven straight. He drained a 3, knocked down a couple of freebies and scored off a steal, cutting the deficit to four (39-35). Big Red answered with a 3 from Wallace and took a 43-37 lead into the final eight minutes.

Butler started the fourth with another long distance bomb, but Big Red once again answered, scoring five straight to make it 48-40. The Electrics got to within six (52-46) when Jones turned a feed from Zimmerman into a two-handed jam.

“We had a double-digit lead a couple of different times, but Philo didn’t quit,” Haney said. “They would close it down, but we just kept battling. We didn’t play smart the whole time. We committed way too many fouls away from the basket.

“But, credit our guys. Every time they seemed to get close, we would get a quick bucket, then a stop, then anther bucket. Jordan went to the hole strong, and Jorian got a nice slam off that pass from Zimmerman. We were able to answer when they got things going, and I’m proud of our guys for that.”

Big Red had 21 field goals compared to 18 for Philo, and the hosts drained 16 of 19 free throw attempts.

“Hats off to them for being great at the free throw line tonight,” Haberfield said. “The physicality of the game was tough for us to handle at times tonight. We tried to slow down the tempo. Steubenville rebounds extremely well. With their athleticism, it was tough keeping them off the boards.

“We had the game tied early but, in the second half, it felt like we just couldn’t get over the hump. We got close several times but…. We had our ups and downs this season, but I’m extremely proud of the way our team played tonight.”

Zimmerman led Big Red in scoring with 16 points. He also dished out a team-leading three assists. Roundtree was a force inside, scoring 14 points and collaring six rebounds. Jones recorded a double-double, with 12 points and 11 rebounds. Wallace finished with nine.

Philo’s Butler took game-scoring honors with 29 points. He also had four assists. Clayton contributed seven points, six rebounds and three blocks. Hunter Moore also had six boards for the Electrics.

“He has that ability to take over games,” Haberfield said of Butler. “We’ve been waiting to see it at times. Tonight, he was keyed in. He knew a lot rested on his shoulders, particularly against Steubenville’s pressure. He put down the gas pedal a little and tried to create some things.”

Big Red’s defensive pressure forced Philo into 20 ball-handling miscues.

Big Red 60, Philo 52

Philo 13-9-15-15 — 52

Big Red 15-16-12-17 — 60

PHILO (12-12): Lutz 1 2-3 5; McElhaney 0 0-0 0; Butler 9 8-10 29; Hargraves 2 0-0 5; Bonifant 1 0-0 2; Clayton 3 1-3 7; Adolph 0 0-0 0; Moore 2 0-0 4; Shaeffer 0 0-0 0; Farus 0 0-0 0. TOTALS: 18, 11-16: 52.

BIG RED (17-5): Rauch 1 2-3 5; Wallace 4 0-0 9; Biasi 0 0-0 0; J. Jones 5 2-2 12; Bickerstaff 0 3-4 3; Zimmerman 7 2-2 16; Roundtree 4 6-6 14; Bracone 0 0-0 0; T. Jones 0 1-3 1. TOTALS: 21, 16-19: 60.

3-POINT GOALS: Philo 5 (Butler 3; Lutz; Hargraves); Big Red 2 (Rauch; Wallace); REBOUNDS: Philo 22 (Clayton, Moore 6 each); Big Red 27 (J. Jones 11); ASSISTS: Philo 9 (Butler 4); Big Red 8 (Zimmerman 3); TURNOVERS: Philo 20; Big Red 14.

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