Tigers fall short of district final
WELLSVILLE — The 12th-seeded Mathews boys basketball team is taking a victory tour through the county.
“When the brackets came out, we said, ‘We don’t know too much about Columbiana County. Let’s go see it all.'” Mathews coach Mike Weymer said.
The Mustangs pulled off a third straight upset by downing fifth-seeded Wellsville, 83-81, in a Division IV district semifinal Tuesday at Wellsville High School.
Mathews improves to 16-8 and advances to the district final for the second time in school history. The Mustangs have won six straight games — including postseason wins over Southern Local, Heartland Christian and Wellsville by a combined seven points.
“We knew we could have a good team, we just needed to string some wins together,” Weymer said. “It’s good to get three meaningful wins in the tournament.”
Not only did the Mustangs beat three Columbiana County teams, they did it on the road.
“It’s great to survive and advance,” Weymer said. “It doesn’t matter if it’s on the road or at home. We’d go to the moon to play the district final.”
Mathews rebounded from an early seven-point deficit to take a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter.
“We couldn’t knock down shots when we needed to and they hit their free throws,” Wellsville coach David Thompson said.
Wellsville wraps up its season at 16-6. It also was the end for Wellsville’s lone senior, Luke Green.
“It’s upsetting and really sad,” Green said. “I’m going to miss it a lot. Everything through this program I’ll never forget.”
Green scored a game-high 28 points, but that was offset by Vinny Sharp’s 28 points.
Mathews’ Kyle Powell and Dominic Greenwood each added 14 points. Vincent Greenwood contributed 10 points for the winners.
Nothing stands out about the Mustangs and their tallest player at 6-foot-1, but they make plays on both ends.
“We’ve had some good guards, but what has helped us is our post play,” Weymer said.
Green said Mathews is one of the best teams the Tigers played.
“We knew they felt disrespected (with the 12th seed),” Green said. “They jell well together.”
“They played how we thought they would play,” Thompson said.
Green, Isaiah Greathouse and Jaxon Brewer each scored at least 20 points and combined for 71 of Wellsville’s 81 points.
Green totaled 28 points, 13 rebounds and two assists. Greathouse had 23 points, eight rebounds and seven assists and Brewer had 20 points, 14 rebounds and four assists.
“We thought if we score 80 points, we would be all right,” Thompson said. “They played hard. I give them credit for that.”
Wellsville never led in the second half, but closed the margin to 67-66 with 3:13 remaining.
The Mustangs converted consecutive steals into points with less than two minutes to go. Then Sharp outran the Tigers for a basket on an offensive rebound off his own miss to make it 78-69 with 51 seconds left.
The Tigers weren’t ready to quit.
“I didn’t think that,” Thompson said. “They’ve won games like that.”
Brewer converted a pair of conventional three-point plays and Greathouse hit a three-pointer to close the gap to 80-75 with 27 seconds left. Green added a three-pointer at the 17-second mark and Greathouse had another three-pointer with 3 seconds to play for the final score.
The Mustangs made 8-of-10 free throws in the final 73 seconds.
“We had 17 turnovers. You can’t win a game like that, especially a tournament game,” Thompson said.
Wellsville scored the first six points of the game and went up 17-10 on a Green three-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes remaining in the first quarter.
Mathews made six of its first eight three-point attempts to take a 23-21 early in the second quarter.
“I’m proud of our kids,” Weymer said. “At the end of the day it’s March, anything can happen.”
• Wellsville has only one upperclassman — Green.
The rest of the team is sophomores and freshmen.
“I’ve got two more years on my contract, so I’ll ride these guys,” Thompson said. “I hope one of the eighth-graders can step in. There’s playing time to get.”
• Wellsville’s last district title was in 1984.
The Tigers have all their titles listed on banners hanging in the gymnasium. Green thought about it “all the time. Everyday in practice.”
The way the draw looked, the Tigers had a chance to put another district title on the list.
“I thought we did,” Green said.
• The Mustangs’ sectional wins over Southern Local and Heartland Christian didn’t mean anything to Thompson.
“I don’t look at who plays who,” he said. “It’s what you do yourself.”
• Weymer’s brother, Matt, is the head baseball coach at Youngstown Ursuline. Matt guided Springfield Local to state runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2013.
• The Mustangs are 5-2 in games decided by three points or less. That’s not counting an overtime win at Heartland Christian.
• Mathews will play at fourth-seeded Bristol at 7 p.m. Friday in the district final. Bristol advanced with a 59-44 win over Lowellville.
Bristol defeated Mathews 75-70 earlier this season.
“We know them well and they know us well,” Weymer said.
• Weymer said Mathews’ only other district final appearance was in 2010, when the Mustangs lost to Maplewood.
MATHEWS SCORING: Vinny Sharp 10-3-28, Kyle Powell 5-2-14, Dominic Greenwood 4-3-14, Tyler Hodkinson 2-3-7, Vincent Greenwood 5-0-10, Ethan Petak 2-1-5, Heydon Matheny 1-0-3, Jacob Williams 1-0-2, Isaiah Munno 0-0-0, Jacob Williams 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 30-64, 12-17: 83.
WELLSVILLE SCORING: Luke Green 12-0-28, Jaxon Brewer 8-4-20, Isaiah Greathouse 9-2-23, Eddie Stock 4-0-8, Nathan McGraw 0-2-2, Kolby Ramsey 0-0-0, Gavin Countz 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 33-67, 8-11: 81.
Three-point goals: Mathews 11-26 (Sharp 5, D. Greenwood 3, Powell 2, Matheny), Wellsville 7-26 (Green 4, Greathouse 3).