Brock Netter, Staff Writer
SOUTH WEBSTER — Sometimes there are games where one team simply has no answer for how to stop one player.
A classic example was Saturday’s matchup at South Webster, where the Jeeps couldn’t stop Ironton St. Joe’s J.C. Damron.
He was a man amongst boys.
The senior forward finished with a season-best 28 points as he led the Flyers (6-2) to a 59-40 victory in non-conference action.
“We played great team ball, offensively and defensively,” Ironton St. Joe coach Chris Barnes said. “Our ball movement was really good, our 1-3-1 zone played really solid and prevented South Webster from getting any good looks at the rim. We have a very unselfish group of guys, and everyone has their moments. This was J.C.’s, and he played outstanding. He took advantage of mismatches, played aggressive and I’m proud of him.”
For the Flyers, this was more than just getting a win. This was about making a statement. This season, they’ve suffered two losses in the final seconds at the hands of West and Symmes Valley.
“Any win for us as an SOC I team against an SOC II school is pretty big,” Damron said. “We felt we were doubted coming into this game, so we wanted to make a point and show that we are for real.”
Damron established himself early inside, opening the game with a pair of buckets. The threat of the 6-foot-4 senior on the inside opened things up for Jackson Rowe, who buried three 3’s in the first quarter.
The duo scored 16 of the Flyers’ 18 opening quarter points as they led 18-11.
“In the last few games, I haven’t really done much. I think, combined, I’ve had maybe five points,” Rowe said. “I was struggling to say the least. But my coaches and teammates continued to have confidence in me. I came out and hit some shots, and kept going.”
Damron continued to battle inside for position, but showed unselfishness as he dished an assist to Matt Sheridan, who connected from deep in the second. Then Jimmy Mahlmeister drilled a baseline jumper that extended the lead to 27-16 before ISJ took a 29-19 lead into halftime.
“We wanted to move the ball since South Webster was down a player, and use the advantage we had on the inside,” Barnes said. “Sometimes, we have a tendency to over-dribble instead of just trusting ourselves. South Webster plays really good man-to-man defense and they have a lot of quickness offensively. But we took them out of what they like to do with our 1-3-1.”
South Webster’s Chad Carpenter came out and scored six quick points in thierd, and it looked as if the Jeeps might have found a spark. But the Jeeps (5-5) couldn’t maintain the momentum.
Meanwhile, Damron continued to pace the Flyers inside and on the perimeter. He scored 10 of the team’s 14 third quarter points, giving ISJ a 43-27 lead before closing out the victory.
“This is my third year as coach, and these are some of the most unselfish kids I’ve ever had,” Barnes said. “These are the kind of games in our division that means something, and it was just nice to see us play good team basketball and do so on the road. We let two games slip out of our hands, so we needed one like this. We still have a lot of big games ahead over the next couple weeks, so hopefully we continue this roll.”
After Damron, Rowe finished with 14 points and Sheridan added seven points with four rebounds.
For South Webster, Carpenter and Jaren Lower each scored 11 points.
Both teams return to the court on Tuesday. Ironton St. Joe travels to Green for SOC I action and South Webster hosts Wheelersburg in SOC II action.
Ironton St. Joe: 18-11-14-16 — 59
South Webster: 11-8-8-13 — 40
Ironton St. Joe: 24-44 FG, 4-7 FT, 7-15 3pt., 22 rebounds (Johnson 6), 9 turnovers, 7 assists (Johnson 4). Scoring: Damron 28, Rowe 14, Sheridan 7, Mahlmeister 6, Johnson 2, Weber 2.
South Webster: 16-40 FG, 3-3 FT, 5-19 3pt., 18 rebounds (Blizzard 5), 16 turnovers, 6 assists. Scoring: Carpenter 11, Lower 11, Bender 9, Zimmerman 7, Rawlings 2.