Joiner lifts Indians past Bulldogs

SALINEVILLE — Southern Local junior Jacob Joiner knew he had a good shot prior to Wednesday night’s matchup with East Palestine.

He just didn’t know how hot he was.

Before the Indians and Bulldogs began the third quarter, Joiner nailed four straight three-pointers from the corner, looked up and exclaimed ‘Oh my God!’

“I just knew I was hot before the game. I was just hoping it would carry over into the game,” he said. “I told my friend before the game I would drop 30, and he believed me. He told me I had 18 at halftime and needed just 12 more.”

Joiner did more than just score 12 points to reach 30. He finished with a career-high 41 points to go along with 10 rebounds, four blocks, three steals and two assists to help Southern end its five-game losing streak with a 68-57 victory. His previous career high was 25.

“He was spectacular tonight. He’s a talented kid and has had a very good first year with the varsity team,” Southern coach Aaron Blatch said. “We see the things he can do in practice, and we pretty much see this every day. We’ve been on him to stay aggressive and think like a scorer.”

The Indians improve to 4-7.

Blatch and the Indians hope more is to come from Joiner now that senior Domanick Michael is ineligible to play for the rest of the season. Joiner knows there is a void to fill.

“After we found out he was done playing, everybody came up to me and said ‘You have to help out a lot more.'” Joiner said. “He was scoring a lot while he was here. All of us had to pick it up, not just me.”

While picking up the pieces on the court helps Southern, Blatch wants him to fill the void in the locker room as well.

“We’ve wanted Joiner to be aggressive regardless, but I think where he can step up is in a leadership void,” Blatch said. “Dom was probably our most solid kid in terms of offense, defense and in the locker room. It was kind of devastating when we heard about him. We feel bad for him because he’s a great kid.

“Joiner was not on the team last year, and we need him to be a leader. I always felt like we needed a second leader, and with what Joiner can do talent wise is the logical answer.”

Joiner scored 23 of his 41 points in the second half when the Indians ran away from East Palestine (5-6). Leading 39-37 heading into the fourth quarter, Southern put the game away with a 12-0 scoring run. The Indians finished with 29 fourth-quarter points.

“We’re lucky to score 29 in a game with the way it’s been going,” Blatch laughed. “With a few exceptions, I thought we did a good job of attacking their pressure.”

The Bulldogs brought the deficit to within nine at one point, but that was the closest they got. They wish a stronger first half would propel them. They scored just five points in the first quarter, the fewest they have scored in any quarter this season.

“We missed a lot of layups. They only scored 10 in the first quarter, so we were playing pretty good defense. Then I don’t know what happened,” East Palestine coach L.J. Sutton said. “We were falling back into bad habits. Then we just let Joiner kill us. I did not do a good enough job preparing my team for that, and that’s on me.”

Sutton added he knew Southern would rely heavily on Joiner after hearing about Michael. However, any game plan the Bulldogs had for Joiner just did not work on Wednesday.

“I knew coming in that he was a big part of their offense. I really wanted us to get him early and force him to the hoop and not hit threes,” Sutton said. “He can knock those down contested, but 41 points? Holy moly.”

Max Hart finished Joiner with 11 points and five rebounds off the bench. Ethan West tallied 10 points. Andre Sloan, still finding his groove, recorded four points and seven rebounds.

Sloan transferred to Southern along with his brother Jayce from Wellsville. Blatch does not the reason why they came over, but he is glad they did.

“They’ve been really good additions,” he said. “What we really like is with the leadership void, Andre’s fantastic. He’s vocal, and he’s a natural leader. I think Jayce will grow into that, too. Andre just does a little bit of everything and plays good defense. I wish he would have been here a little bit earlier so we could work with him more, but both have been solid additions.”

For the Bulldogs, Trevor Kimmel finished with 25 points and eight rebounds. Dominic Posey had seven points and seven rebounds. Marshall Huddleston also recorded seven points.

Southern travels to Wellsville on Friday, while East Palestine hosts South Range.

Game notes

– Southern also won the jayvee game 60-34. Nick May led the Indians with 12 points. East Palestine’s Dalton Vance had 16.

– Wednesday night’s contest was a makeup from Tuesday night due to weather conditions. Joiner’s not complaining about it.

“I’m glad we made it up today,” he said. “I’m not sure how (Tuesday) night would have went.”

E PALESTINE: 5-14-18-20–57

SOUTHERN: 10-16-13-29–68

EAST PALESTINE SCORING: Parker Sherry 0-0-0, Brandon Kemp 1-2-5, Dominic Posey 2-3-7, Marshall Huddleston 3-1-7, Trevor Kimmel 11-3-25, Jeremy Reynolds 2-0-5, Stephen Darlington 1-0-2, Cameron Mitchell 0-0-0, Clayton Murray 2-2-6, Tom Dumbauld 0-0-0, Zach Townsend 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 22, 11-18: 57.

SOUTHERN SCORING: Dominic Pugliano 0-0-0, Jacob Joiner 14-11-41, Ethan West 3-4-10, Andre Sloan 1-2-4, Dakota Wetzel 1-2-4, Max Hart 5-0-11, Nick May 0-0-0, Mark Soukup 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 24, 19-28: 68.

Three-point goals: East Palestine 2 (Kemp, Reynolds), Southern 5 (Joiner 4, Hart).