Boys basketball: Poca defense clamps down against Nicholas
POCA -- Nicholas County forward Austin Hill had his way with Class AA No. 2 Poca through the first half Tuesday night to the tune of 14 points and five rebounds.
A 6-foot-2, 280-pounder with a surprisingly soft touch, Hill staked the Grizzlies to a five-point lead by halftime while making 5-of-6 shots, including 3-of-4 from 3-point range.
To Dots junior Jacob Payne, the answer was simple.
"We couldn't put any big guys in there, so we just toughened up," the junior said after Poca (10-1) rallied in the second half to get a 51-48 win over the Grizzlies (6-4).
"We had Adam (Sigman) on the big guy, and he did a great job with him," Payne said. "He roughed him up and played hard against him. We're not going to outsize anybody, so that's what we had to do."
Hill, who finished with a career-high 18 points and game-high 11 rebounds, got off only one field goal try after halftime. Each of his four second-half points came at the foul line.
Payne, meanwhile, was key to a Poca surge through the bulk of the third quarter and finished with eight points and a team-high eight boards. The lead changed hands four times in the third quarter, with Payne giving the Dots their first lead with 4:29 left in the quarter when he canned a jumper off an assist from Cam Morrison.
His biggest moment came early in the fourth, however. The Grizzlies took a 33-32 lead with about 2½ minutes left in the third, when reserve guard Michael Bragg hit a jumper. The teams were tied at 37-37 entering the fourth, but with the score again tied at 39-39, Poca guard Cam Cottrill fed Payne in the low post against the Grizzlies' man-to-man defense.
Without changing his momentum, Payne tipped the pass through the lane to a streaking Matt Chandler, who scored on an uncontested layup that put Poca ahead to stay.
"Chandler ran to the baseline, and I guess he got around whoever was guarding him and got into the paint," Payne said. "I saw number 40 or 50 and thought 'I can't get over him.' So I kind of redirected it to Chandler.
"It's what we do in practice: make another pass and get an easy shot. I didn't want to take a hard shot. That's the way we are, and that's the way we play."
Poca Coach Allen Osborne said that his team's improved defense in the second half was an obvious key to victory, but so too was the Dots' depth.
"We've got eight or nine guys who can play. So each night we've just got to find the way we've got to play and squeeze out of there," Osborne said.
Noah Frampton has led Poca in scoring through the first half of the season, but picked up his second personal foul with 6:48 left in the first half. He finished with a team-high 13 points, but sat for the final 5:11 of the second quarter, when Nicholas gave itself a five-point cushion.
"We thought he might be able to hit a big shot, but we didn't want to risk him picking up another foul, so we got him out of there," Osborne said. "I thought our bench really played well tonight."
Osborne played nine players Tuesday night. Of them, all but one reached the scoring column.
Nicholas County Coach Brian Phipps, whose team joined Class AA this year and plays in Region 4, Section 1 along with Poca, said Hill's emergence Tuesday is something the Grizzlies have been looking forward to since November.
"He's just now getting into basketball shape," Phipps said of Hill, who was a second team All-State offensive lineman in 2012. "This was a big confidence booster for him, and we're going to need that in the second half of the season and going into tournament time."
Cody McClung, a 6-4 junior forward, had 10 points and seven rebounds for the Grizzlies, while Cottrill had 10 points and a game-high three steals.
Contact Preps Editor Derek Taylor at email@example.com or 304-348-5170. Folllow him on Twitter @ItsreallyDT
Nicholas County (6-4) FG 3Pt FT Pts
Cody McClung 4-12 1-6 1-1 10
Austin Hill 6-7 3-4 3-5 18
Eric Peyatt 2-5 0-0 0-0 4
Andrew Ray 1-5 1-3 0-0 3
Jared Tharp 2-8 0-4 2-5 6
Zach Tolley 0-0 0-0 0-0 0
Zach McCourt 2-2 0-0 0-3 4
Nathaniel Barker 0-0 0-0 0-0 0
Michael Bragg 1-2 0-1 0-0 2
Totals 18-41 5-18 6-14 48
Percentages .439 .277 .429
Poca (10-1) FG 3Pt FT Pts
Jacob Payne 3-8 0-0 2-2 8
Matt Chandler 1-6 0-2 5-6 7
Cam Morrison 0-0 0-0 1-2 1
Noah Frampton 5-16 1-4 2-2 13
Cam Cottrill 4-12 1-3 1-1 10
Adam Sigman 1-4 1-2 1-2 4
Caleb Samples 1-2 0-0 0-0 2
Hayden Bailey 1-3 1-2 2-5 5
Christian Buckley 0-1 0-0 0-0 0
Totals 16-52 4-13 14-20 51
Percentages .307 .307 .700
Nicholas County 12 14 11 11-48
Poca 12 9 16 14-51
Rebounds: Nicholas 34 (Hill 11, McClung 7), Poca 30 (Payne 8, Chandler 7).
Assists: Nicholas 6 (McClung 3), Poca 9 (Frampton 3).
Steals: Nicholas 2 (Ray, Peyatt), Poca 5 (Cottrill 3).
Blocks: Nicholas 4 (McCourt, McClung, Peyatt, Hill), Poca 2 (Frampton, Chandler).
Total fouls: Nicholas 18, Poca 16.
Fouled out: Peyatt.
Turnovers: Nicholas 17, Poca 9.