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Minford advances on Rowe’s buzzer-beater

The Portsmouth Daily Times 

By Alexander Hider

February 27, 2015

CHILLICOTHE — Brandon Rowe didn’t call glass, but that’s OK. His Minford Falcons are still headed to the Convo for the third straight year.

With the Falcons trailing by two with 2.7 seconds remaining, Rowe took an inbounds pass and banked home a deep 3 as the buzzer sounded. The shot gave No. 2 Minford a wild 52-51 victory over third-seeded Circleville Friday night in the sectional finals at Southeastern High School.

“I didn’t really know how much time was left, so I just pulled up, took the shot and put one in,” Rowe said.

“He did what great players do: They win ballgames,” Minford head coach Josh Shoemaker added.

The Falcons (19-4) fell behind late in the third quarter, as Circleville (18-5) took control with a four-minute, 14-2 extended run. Tiger senior Justin Hill recorded three steals during the span, all of which led directly to fast break points on the other end. Hill scored seven points in just under four minutes, and finished with 13 points on the night.

Rowe knocked down a 3-pointer as the third quarter came to a close, but Minford still trailed by eight as the final period.

“We told them with four minutes to go, we needed to cut it to four,” Shoemaker said. “We just had to keep going, just keep plugging away and chipping into the lead.”

After Circleville’s Michael Camp opened the fourth quarter with a bucket, the Falcons went to work. Minford scored three straight baskets to cut the Tiger lead to 41-37 with just over four minutes to play — right on schedule.

“We had the mindset that we just needed to go out and focus,” Rowe said. “We had to get our shots falling. We did that, and we got a few key stops, too.”

With the game back within reach, the Falcons put their offense in the hands of Rowe. He scored Minford’s final 17 points, all of them coming within the final five minutes of the game.

“He really put us on track in the fourth quarter,” Shoemaker said.

Rowe traded baskets with Circleville down the stretch, keeping Minford within striking distance. With less than a minute remaining, he had cut the deficit to just a single point.

With time running low, the Falcons were forced to foul to preserve time. The Tiger senior Will Griffin made both shots of a 1-and-1 to extend the lead to three, but Rowe had other ideas.

Rowe took the inbounds pass and went coast-to-coast, absorbed a foul on a layup attempt and put the shot home. The bonus foul shot tied the game up at 49 with just over 20 seconds remaining.

On Circleville’s next possession, the Tigers held the ball for the last shot. Junior Michael Camp (13 points) buried a jumper to give his team the lead — but there were still five seconds left on the clock.

With a foul to give, the Tigers hacked Minford near half-court on the ensuing inbounds play. With 2.7 seconds left, the Falcons took a timeout.

Shoemaker didn’t draw up anything special in the huddle.

“It’s our same side out-of-bounds play,” he said. “With 2.7 seconds, we knew we could get two dribbles and a shot, and he did exactly what we told him to.”

In the first half, Minford was able to play the quick and athletic Tigers to a draw thanks to solid play in the post from sophomore Dillon Shepherd and junior Trey Kelley. The two each grabbed seven rebounds, helping contribute to a 27-13 edge that Minford enjoyed on the glass throughout the night.

“I thought we did a great job rebounding and going after the ball,” Shoemaker said. “We had to limit them to one shot. That was our goal, and I feel like we succeeded.”

With the win, Minford captured its third straight sectional title and will advance to the district tournament next weekend at Ohio University. The Falcons will play either top-seeded Warren or fifth-seeded Logan Elm next Saturday at the Convocation Center.

“We won the league, and now we’re going to the Convo. We have one more goal, and that’s to win a district title,” Shoemaker said. “We want Kenton Gullion and Mike Miller, our two seniors, to go out winning a district title.”

“I’m just proud of my kids. They didn’t quit,” he added. “A lot of teams could have folded, but our kids fought back and they did a tremendous job.”

Box Score

  1 2 3 4 F
Circleville 13 8 18 12 51
Minford 11 10 10 21 52


Circleville — C. Cooper 2-0-6, M. Camp 5-2-13, J. Taylor 2-0-6, W. Griffin 4-4-12, J. Hall 5-3-13, R. Moats 0-1-1

Minford — J. Alley 1-0-3, K. Gullion 3-0-6, B. Rowe 9-3-25, D. Shepherd 4-0-8, T. Kelley 3-0-8, M. Miller 2-0-4

3-point Field Goals — Circleville 5 (C. Cooper 2, J. Taylor 2, M. Camp), Minford 7 (B. Rowe 4, T. Kelley 2, J. Alley)

Records — Minford 19-4, Circleville 18-5

Reach Alex Hider at 740-353-3101 ext. 1931 or on Twitter @PDTSportsWriter

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