Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
WHEELERSBURG — Waverly’s Trey Robertson put on a shooting clinic Tuesday night. The price of admission was free for spectators and a loss for Wheelersburg.
Roberton’s game and season-high 36 points, alongside a combined for 31 rebounds from teammates Will Futhey and Tanner Smallwood, paced the Tigers to a 67-58 win over the state-ranked Pirates … at Wheelersburg.
It was an emotional win, it was an impressive win, but most of all, it was a statement win.
Coming into the game, Wheelersburg was the state’s No. 1 ranked team in Division III. The loss is the team’s first in the regular season since Feb. 3, 2018 and the first league loss since Jan. 19, 2018 — a 62-40 loss to Oak Hill.
“We started off hot on the defensive end and went into transition,” Robertson said. “We got open looks early and [Wheelersburg] started to fold a little bit. We kept going at them, kept stepping on their throats, and shots went in.”
Roberston was, to put it mildly, unconscious in the first half. He created his own shots, drove to the basket well, hit multiple filth-filled stepback jumpers, and was the engine that kept the offense running.
But he was also quick to credit his teammates for their efforts on the glass. Futhey was essential to the win, grabbing 17 rebounds, while Smallwood tallied 14 of his own.
“[Controlling the glass] was huge for us. It gave us more chances, more opportunities to knock down shots,” Futhey said. “If we hustle like that, we win every game in my opinion. That was our goal from the beginning, to outhustle them, and I think we did that tonight.”
At one point in the second half, Waverly (8-2, 5-1 SOC II) had a 47-31 lead. That’s when the Pirates (7-1, 5-1 SOC II) ripped off a 21-6 run to trim that edge to 53-52 with 4:12 remaining.
However, the Tigers showed poise and absorbed the punch before delivering the knockout blow.
Smallwood scored at the 3:52 mark before Robertson hit back-to-back triples, extending the lead to 61-52 with 2:03 left.
“That’s going to happen,” Waverly coach Travis Roberston said. “When you’re playing a good team and you’re on their home floor, they’re going to make a run at you. The key is, can you get it stopped? To do that sometimes, you have to have a kid step up and make a basketball play. We were able to knock down a 3 on the wing to get the lead to four, then we got a stop and another bucket. It says a lot about our kids and the way they go about their business.”
Wheelersburg’s J.J. Truitt gave the Pirates a 3-0 lead with 7:25 to go in the first quarter, sending Waverly into an early timeout. The Tigers then countered with a 4-0 run to go up 4-3. From there, the two traded the lead until Waverly grabbed an 18-14 lead at the end of the quarter.
In the second, Robertson completely took over the ballgame.
The sophomore guard scored 15 in the eight-minute time frame, including a triple at the buzzer to put Waverly ahead 39-26 at halftime.
“The expectation for my team is the same type of effort and energy that we gave tonight,” Travis Robertson said. “For us to be successful and beat good teams, that’s what we need. Trey carried us offensively for awhile, but our bigs were huge tonight as well. Then, getting Mark [Stulley] back and taking some of the ball-handling responsibilities off of Trey, that’s huge, too. I’m really happy with the way our kids played tonight, as far as keeping their composure.”
That composure was tested throughout the second half.
The Pirates won the third quarter by a 15-12 margin, cutting the deficit to 51-41 heading to the fourth. By the 5:37 mark, Waverly’s lead was just five at 53-48 … and eventually dwindled to one.
But as he had all night long, Trey Robertson provided the spark to an 8-0 run that put the game away. The win forces a three-way tie atop the SOC II standings between the Tigers, the Pirates and Oak Hill.
“Our goal at the beginning of the season was to win the league,” Trey Roberston said. “We dropped a game to Oak Hill earlier this season but we came out and fought tonight. If we don’t come out and win, that’s probably putting us out of the league [title race]. But we fought. It gives us another chance to win the league.”
Robertson’s 36 points led all scorers while Futhey followed with 16 points of his own alongside the game-high 17 rebounds. Smallwood added six points to his 14 boards, Zeke Brown finished with six points and Michael Goodman tallied three points and four assists.
For Wheelersburg, Truitt and Eli Swords led the way with 15 and 12points, respectively, while Carter McCorkle had nine points and a team-high 15 rebounds. Michael Miller also helped out, scoring nine points and adding three rebounds and four assists to his stat sheet.
The Tigers are back in action Friday, hosting Northwest. Wheelersburg will try and bounce back the same night, traveling to Minford.
“I think this shows the league how good we really are,” Futhey said. “This means a lot for the program and it gives us a lot of momentum going into the rest of the season. It shows our potential and how good we can be.”
Waverly: 18-21-12-16 — 67
Wheelersburg: 14-12-15-17 — 58
Waverly: 25-46 FG, 12-19 FT, 5-10 3 pt., 34 rebounds (Futhey 17), 18 turnovers, 6 assists (Goodman 4). Scoring: Robertson 36, Futhey 16, Smallwood 7, Brown 6, Goodman 2.
Wheelersburg: 23-75 FG, 3-7 FT, 9-30 3 pt., 36 rebounds (McCorkle 15), 9 turnovers, 10 assists (Miller 4). Scoring: Truitt 15, Swords 12, Miller 9, McCorkle 9, Sanderlin 8, Adkins 3, Jolly 2.