Potters feast on Lions

East Liverpool’s Gabe Roach lays the ball up against Minerva’s Brice Williams on Friday night at Potter Fieldhouse. (Photo by Jimmy Joe Savage)

EAST LIVERPOOL–Coming off a thrilling win against Harrison Central on Tuesday and with the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference semifinals looming next week, the East Liverpool boys basketball team made it very clear that there would be no letdown Friday against Minerva.

On senior night at Potter Fieldhouse, senior guard Gabe Roach put together one of his most complete performances of the season with 29 points and 14 rebounds as the Potters took apart the Lions in the first half and cruised to a 79-51 victory.

“We were all really motivated to win this game on senior night,” Roach said. “We played a good game and had a lot of fun out there.”

Roach helped set the tone for the Potters (15-4) by attacking the basket early and often. He hit his first four shots, had thirteen points by the end of the first quarter and already had a double-double secured by halftime when East Liverpool went to the locker room up 39-18.

“Gabe is playing some of the best basketball I’ve seen him play in four years,” Conley said. “He was tremendous in every aspect of the game tonight. He looks confident, calm and he’s having fun out there. He’s got some nice pieces around him and he knows he doesn’t have to do it all himself.”

Roach was far from alone. Timmy Neal added 13 points, while Tresean Jackson totaled 11 points and six assists. James Maxwell pulled down six rebounds. Brennan O’Hara and Tyler Roe each had five boards.

After surrendering 18 second-chance points to St. Clairsville in the Buckeye 8 Championship game Saturday, the Potters made it a point to re-emphasize the fundamentals. They owned a dominant 41-19 edge on the boards Friday.

“If we don’t box out now we have to run,” Roach said. “Yesterday we had to run like eight sprints, so we came into tonight determined to box out, which really let us get out and run.”

The Potters only hit one three, but made up for it with their relentless transition attack and a sturdy defense that held the Lions to 4-for-25 shooting in the first half.

Minerva found some rhythm in the second half, but by then it was too late. Standout forward Brice Williams led the Lions (6-14) with 21 points.

“Sometimes teams are more athletic than you and it’s hard to matchup, but I was disappointed in the first half with how much we allowed them to beat us back in transition,” Minerva coach Shawn Green said. “We have to clean that up going forward. But overall I’m proud of how we came out and battled in the second half. The kids have been fighting hard all year.”

Minerva is at Marlington on Friday, while the Potters now turn their attention to Tuesday’s OVAC 4A semifinal at top-seeded Meadowbrook (13-4) which was a Div. II state semifinalist last season. The one common opponent between the two schools is Steubenville, which Meadowbrook beat 59-45.

“We’re really excited to go down there,” Roach said. “We had two good wins this week, and I think we’ll play with a lot of confidence.”

Game notes

¯Prior to the game, Jackson was honored for breaking the school record for career three-pointers Tuesday against Harrison Central. Jackson, who did not hit a three on Friday, now has 153 career threes. The old mark was 152 by Josh Reed (class of 2003).

¯East Liverpool honored all winter sport seniors before the game. Conley opened the game with all four seniors (Roach, James Maxwell, Peyton Reed and Sobaan Razi in the starting lineup.

¯After the game Green said the Potters stacked up favorably against the teams the Lions face in the Eastern Buckeye Conference.

“They would be in the top three somewhere for sure,” Green said. “I don’t know if they have the size or physicality of some of the Stark County teams, but they are really good. They will be one of the top teams in our tournament coming up.”

¯The Potters won the jv game 57-44. Levi George had 15 points for East Liverpool. Shea Common led Minerva with 13 points.

MINERVA: 12-6-21-12–51

EAST LIVERPOOL: 22-17-22-18–79

MINERVA SCORING: Reece Catlett 5-1-11, Brandon Baumgardner 3-0-7, Noah Sallade 1-0-2, Brice Williams 5-9-21, Mitchell Greer 0-0-0, Alex Kimble 0-0-0, Blake Kinsey 2-0-6, Owen Swogger 0-0-0, Koby Kinsey 0-2-2, Shea Common 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 17, 12-14: 51.

EAST LIVERPOOL SCORING: Gabe Roach 12-4-29, Tresean Jackson 5-1-11, Timmy Neal 6-1-13, Brennan O’Hara 2-1-5, James Maxwell 2-1-5, Peyton Reed 4-0-9, Tyler Roe 2-0-4, Izaiha Browning 0-1-1, Levi George 0-0-0, Sobaan Razi 0-0-0, Jerome Deal 0-2-2, Zavea Green 0-0-0, Cameron Beverly 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 34, 11-18: 79.

Three-point goals: Minerva 5 (Blake Kinsey 2, Williams 2, Baumgardner), East Liverpool 2 (Roach, Reed).