BY YANEEK SMITH, BEACON CONTRIBUTOR
OAK HARBOR — After losing a key league game to Huron, Oak Harbor rebounded and rallied to defeat Bellevue, 53-38. In the process, the Rockets helped its coach, Eric Sweet, earn his 100th career victory.
The Rockets (9-7) fell behind 13-7 after the first quarter, but bounced back to take a 22-20 lead into the half. They held a 33-27 lead after three quarters and put the game away by outscoring the Redmen, 20-11, in the fourth.
“We fixed a couple of things defensively, we were rotating a little slow, we weren’t as active as I wanted us to be,” said Sweet. “We talked about some small changes, and the guys were able to execute, get a little more aggressive. Some good offensive possessions helped us to open up a lead in the second half.”
Blake Booker led all scorers with 26 points, including five 3-pointers, and T.J. Hallett chipped in with eight. The Rockets have won five of their last six games following a 4-6 start.
“It’s no secret that teams have been doubling Blake, but he doesn’t need much room to shoot. Not only does he not need much room, he can back up a few feet,” said Sweet.
“If you do forget to double team him, he can get a shot off. He has the ability to make a shot whenever we need him to. If you focus on him so much, the defense loses sight of the other guys. Not only does he do it shooting the basketball, but because he draws double teams, we can get other guys good looks. He gets us going offensively.”
Tyler Ray and Deegan Horn led the Bellevue (3-11) with nine points apiece.
The Rockets currently find themselves in a first-place tie with Willard at 6-2 in the Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division. Margaretta is one game behind at 5-3 and Huron is 4-3.
It was also Senior Night, which allowed the five seniors to be recognized for their efforts. Booker, Fauver, Brenan Ish, Max Hallett-Syzmanski and Ryan Ridener have meant a great deal to the program for the last few seasons.
“The seniors have been a huge part of this program, coming up through my biddy systems and the junior high. They’ve taken on huge roles, they’ve been leaders, they’ve been tough kids. We wouldn’t be here if these kids weren’t who they were,” said Sweet.
“The guys enjoy being role players and screeners so other kids could get shots. They enjoy each other’s company. That’s what you want your program to look like year in and year out. This is another senior class that has embraced it. They enjoy coming to play basketball with their friends. This senior class is doing all that for us.”
Sweet coached for two years at Old Fort before coming to Oak Harbor in 2009. He was an assistant for two years before taking over. In the midst of his 10th season leading the Rockets, Sweet now has 100 career victories.
“It was Senior Night for my kids, so we had a lot of fun activities, and getting the record really made it a fun night,” said Sweet. “We didn’t do anything crazy, it was perfect. It was announced after the game, and that was nice, but I was able to hang out with my team and my guys. We had a little talk at the end of the game, and it was a fun night for everyone involved.”
Sweet, who teaches math at the high school, has worked diligently to rebuild the program.
“You don’t build programs by yourself. I’ve had great coaching staffs over the years who know how to coach basketball. That’s step one. Second, having consistency at the top, the longer you’re somewhere and do it at the end of the day, that’s important.
“I’ve been blessed with that at Oak Harbor,” he said. “The community has to embrace you, thirdly, I’ve always enjoyed being here. We moved here six years ago, we’ve been blessed with great support and great families.
“Lastly, you’ve got to have good kids. They’ve gotten to know me over the years, they’ve embraced my coaching. There are a lot of factors, so many different odds and ends that people don’t see that you need to have a good program. Having a wife that comes to my games and supports me, and having my boys is important. I’ve been blessed with a lot of them, and I think that’s something. At the end of the day, I have kids that want to be coached hard. It’s fun, I love doing it.”
Huron 50, Oak Harbor 41
A competitive game saw Huron take over in the fourth quarter as the Tigers defeated Oak Harbor, 50-41.
Huron led 21-18 at halftime and 28-26 after three quarters before outscoring the Rockets, 22-15, in the fourth.
Dylan Hohler had 16 points to lead the Tigers, Tyler Adams scored 11 and Cole Parker chipped in with 10.
Oak Harbor guard Blake Booker had a game-high 18 points, but the next highest scorer for Oak Harbor was Brenan Ish, who had five points.
Port Clinton loses heartbreaker to Margaretta
PORT CLINTON — Port Clinton was up for the challenge in its matchup with Margaretta, one of the top teams in the Sandusky Bay Conference, but the Polar Bears made a few key plays late in the game and defeated the Redskins, 46-44.
Margaretta guard Jake Leibacher made a layup with 45 seconds to play to put the Bears (13-6, 5-3 Sandusky Bay Conference Bay Division) ahead 45-42, but Port Clinton committed a turnover, and Leibacher hit a free throw with 7.6 seconds to play to put the game away.
“I think we’re playing alright, but it’s kind of the same issue for over a month now, figuring out ways to win close games,” said Port Clinton coach Ryan Hicks. “I think we have 12 losses, and 10 are by five or less points. We’ve been in pretty much every game we’ve played, we’ve just come out on the short end.”
Port Clinton’s last six losses have come by an average of four points.
The ‘Skins (5-12, 2-6) led 11-10 after the first quarter and 23-21 at halftime but the Bears outscored them, 12-7, in the third to take a 33-30 lead. Port Clinton went on an 8-0 run to get the lead at 38-33, but Margaretta responded with a 10-3 run to take a 43-41 lead before Adam Thorbahn hit a free throw.
The ‘Skins have lost seven of their last eight games, but Hicks still believes his team can right the ship.
“I don’t know if you’ll find a 5-win team that is more confident. I’m a confident guy, and there won’t be any game where we take the court where we don’t expect to win, even though we’ve had some tough losses. With all the games being close, we’re not intimidated, we don’t feel like we’re overmatched. The last four times we’ve played Margaretta, it’s been a one-possession game,” he said. “We’re obviously not intimidated or scared of the competition. We embrace it. Unfortunately we were a shot or two away to pull out a win that we expected to get.”
Leibacher led all scorers with 19 points and Spencer Michel finished with 13.
Tyler Webb led Port Clinton with 14 points, including three 3-pointers, and Tommy Owens, Josh Hurst and Adam Thorbahn all scored eight points apiece.
“That was probably Tyler’s best varsity game that he’s played,” said Hicks. “He knocked down a couple of 3s and make some big shots for us. He took care of the ball fairly well; it’s good to see him have a game where he led the team in scoring. He works really hard, we hope he can continue to grow and get better.”
Bellevue 38, Port Clinton 34
Port Clinton held an early lead on Bellevue, but the Redmen rallied to defeat the Redskins, 38-34.
Port Clinton led 18-14 at halftime, but Bellevue outscored the ‘Skins, 11-7, in the third quarter to tie the score at 25-25 heading into the fourth.
Grant Nichols led the Redmen with eight points and Malachi Noble and Deegan Horn had seven points apiece.
Brayden Spencer and Tommy Owens had nine points apiece to lead Port Clinton.
Lakers lose close game to Arcadia, 65-63
DANBURY TWP. — A back-and-forth game saw Arcadia escape with a 65-63 victory over Danbury.
The Redskins (3-16) led 17-14 after the first quarter and took a 39-37 lead into the half. But the Lakers (2-15) were outscored 17-13 in the fourth quarter.
Evan Cohee led Arcadia with 35 points, 24 in the first half, and Logan Boes had 13 points, including seven in the fourth quarter.
Kaden Conrad had 22 points, including six 3-pointers, to help pace Danbury, Bradley Murray scored 13 points, nine of them coming in the second half, and Beau Buchanan had 10 points.
Hopewell-Loudon 58, Danbury 52
Hopewell-Loudon outscored Danbury by nine points in the second half and defeated the Lakers, 58-52.
The Chieftans trailed 24-21 at halftime but outscored Danbury, 21-9, in the third quarter to take a 42-33 lead into the fourth. The Lakers outscored H-L, 19-16, in the final quarter, but it wasn’t enough.
Dan Lommerse had 21 points, including 14 in the second half, to lead the Chieftans, and Caleb Simonis scored 17 points.
Bradley Murray led all scorers with 26 points, 14 of which came in the second half, and Blake Barker contributed with 11 points.
Old Fort 103, Danbury 39
Old Fort steadily built its lead and cruised to a 103-39 victory over Danbury. The Stockaders, one of the area’s best teams, led 32-20 after the first quarter and 49-33 at halftime.
Collin Nutter scored 42 points, including 20 in the first quarter, and Zach Dewese had 20 points to help pace Old Fort
Bradley Murray led the Lakers with 13 points and Kaden Conrad scored 10 points.