BEAVERCREEK — Playing with persistent defensive pressure that seemed to wear down its Cincinnati opponents, Beavercreek claimed a solid 59-38 win, Feb. 6 over Western Hills.
The Beavers reeled off an 8-3 mini scoring spree to close out the first half, putting Beavercreek out in front, 23-17.
Beavercreek then outscored the Mustangs 16-7 in the third quarter, and 36-21 in the second half to cruise to the win. Coach Mark Hess said his team didn’t start out with much enthusiasm.
“It’s a Tuesday night with a small crowd, and I thought we maybe weren’t as aggressive as we should’ve been,” he said. “They were beating us after some loose balls a little bit harder. But I think in the second half, maybe we warmed up a little bit better. We got a little bit better defensively, and got some stops. It’s a lot easier to extend your lead when they’re not scoring.”
Jayme Johnson scored 10 of his game-high 14 points in the first half. The 6-foot-3 Beavers senior forward played well inside for his team. Hess liked how Brandon Zink played as well. Zink finished with 11 points, to go along with Jon Alessandro’s 12-point effort.
“Brandon Zink had a really good game. He didn’t get in the Wayne game, so that shows the kind of toughness he has. To come in and give a solid contribution the next time out like that, and hit some big shots for us in the second quarter,” Hess said. “And Jayme Johnson had a good game for us inside, too. He understands his role. He did a really good job of rebounding, protecting the rim, catching and finishing.”
Coming into the game, Western Hills had won three of its four regular-season games against Dayton-area schools. The Mustangs play in the rugged Cincinnati Metro Athletic Conference.
At 5-foot-7, Western Hills’ senior guard Gregory Marsh was the shortest fellow on the court, but that didn’t stop him from weaving his way through traffic to a team-high 12 points. He was the only Mustang to finish the game in double figures scoring. Daquante Winstead, tied for the second-shortest player on either roster, finished with seven points. The rest of the Mustangs roster finished with four points or less.
With the win, Beavercreek snapped a three-game losing streak to a trio of postseason contenders. Cincinnati St. Xavier, Springfield and No. 1-ranked Wayne had defeated Beavercreek in successive games. Those three teams have a combined 46-8 overall record. The Beavers are now 7-11 overall.
Hess has a special place in his heart for the Beavercreek senior class of Adam Graeter, Jon Allessandro, Joe Allesandro, Evan Saylor, Caden Grimm and Jayme Johnson.
“It’ll be a big night for us. These six seniors were freshmen for my first year as Beavercreek coach,” Hess said. “It’s been four years that we’ve been together, and they’ve been kids who have worked hard, invested into the program and have done everything we’ve asked them to do.
“And it hasn’t always been easy. We probably haven’t won as much as we’d have liked, but we competed. And I think it shows in the resilience, perseverance and the grit this year, of having that competitive edge. They’ve always continued to fight and compete. It’s going to be a good night for them. I want to send them out on top, they way they deserve.
We’ll be ready to go.”