Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
IRONTON — They say good things come to those who wait.
In New Boston’s case, the “wait” lasted 49 years.
But Friday night, thanks to a 63-60 win over Ironton St. Joe on the road, the Tigers’ long delay came to a screeching halt as the program seized its first outright SOC I title since 1971.
The crown comes a year after New Boston won its first district title since 1960, and in the midst of what the Tigers (18-1, 12-0 SOC I) hope to be another successful run.
“I don’t even know what to feel right now. I’m at a loss for words,” junior Kyle Sexton said. “It feels great. We’ve been working for this since my freshman year. New Boston fans have waited way too long for this.”
Sexton played like a man possessed in the second half.
The junior put his teammates on his back and carried them to victory with a 22-point, 13-rebound, 7-assist performance — totaling 20 points in the second half alone.
When the Tigers needed their den leader the most, he answered the call.
“He’s special. Very special,” New Boston coach Adam Cox said. “He stepped up in the second half tonight and was the leader we needed and expect him to be. He makes it easy to coach.”
Ironton St. Joe (13-5, 8-4) didn’t pull any punches, however.
After entering the second quarter trailing 15-10, mostly thanks to the superb shooting of New Boston’s Chase Clark, the Flyers took their first lead with 5:10 left before halftime at 19-17.
Behind Zach Roach, Jimmy Mahlmeister and Ryan Payne, ISJ extended the lead to 34-23 by halftime.
That’s when Cox delivered a message that stuck with his kids.
“I told them that we’d get some stops, some rebounds and we’d knock down shots,” Cox said. “Then, I felt like our kids really challenged Kyle at halftime. Man, did he ever deliver in the second half.”
That’s an understatement.
Sexton scored with 7:05 left and, to put it bluntly, didn’t stop after that.
Grady Jackson hit back-to-back buckets to make it a 37-29 game with 5:29 left in the third before Sexton scored seven straight points to cut the lead to 40-36 at the 4:16 mark.
Then, with New Boston down 43-39, Tanner Voiers scored twice to tie the game with 52.1 seconds left. By the end of the third quarter, the Flyers had a one-point lead at 46-45.
With 6:56 left in the fourth, Sexton gave New Boston a 47-46 lead and the Tigers never looked back.
Clark scored with 6:19 to go, making it 49-46, and Sexton later made it 56-52 at the 2:28 mark. Down the stretch, Voiers, Sexton and Marcus Saunders all scored to put the win on ice.
“This is amazing. I can’t wait to get home and celebrate with these guys,” Voiers said. “I went to school here and left and went to South Webster, and this year, I decided to come back with my brothers. It was the best decision of my life, honestly. I miss all my friends at South Webster, but I’m loving it here with my brothers.”
Following Sexton’s performance was Voiers, who finished with 17 points and seven rebounds. Chase Clark also played well, scoring 10 points, and Grady Jackson finished with six points, four rebounds and two assists.
The Flyers were led by Ryan Payne’s 16 points while Zach Roach added 12 points and five boards. J.C. Damron ended the night with nine points and a team-high 11 rebounds.
“I’m so happy for my kids. Their heart, their desire, their resilience … man, they showed so much resilience tonight. They believed in the game plan,” Cox said. “I grew up in New Boston. I never got to win an SOC title. I never got to play on the Convo floor. These kids have really wanted to make those dreams come true.”
New Boston is back in action next Friday, hosting Western in conference play, and trying to keep momentum heading into a tournament run.
New Boston: 15-8-22-18 — 63
Ironton St. Joe: 10-24-12-14 — 60
New Boston: 25-50 FG, 11-19 FT, 3-13 3 pt., 36 rebounds (Sexton 13), 18 turnovers, 13 assists (Sexton 7). Scoring: Sexton 22, Voiers 17, Clark 10, Jackson 6, Saunders 4, Jones 2, Potts 2.
Ironton St. Joe: 20-57 FG, 12-20 FT, 6-22 3 pt., 30 rebounds (Damron 11), 12 turnovers, 8 assists (Sheridan 4). Scoring: Payne 16, Roach 12, Mahlmeister 11, Damron 9, Johnson 8, Sheridan 4.