Late free throw lifts Mathews in sectional
SALINEVILLE — Vincent Greenwood split a pair of free throws with 3 seconds remaining to break a tie as 12th-seeded Mathews defeated ninth-seeded Southern 57-56 in a first-round Division IV sectional contest Tuesday.
“Games like this are really tough because we don’t know much about them and they don’t know much about us,” Mathews coach Michael Weymer said. “You know tendencies, but you don’t know much more than that, so we tried to mix it up. We have been primarily a man-to-man team this year and we came out and ran a 2-3 zone and some other zone variations to give them different looks. We wanted to make them think a little more.”
The Mustangs improved to 14-8 and will play at third-seeded Heartland Christian in a sectional bracket final on Friday.
Southern’s Brock Smalley hit a 3-pointer to tie the game at 56 with 30 seconds left. Greenwood was fouled collecting an offensive rebound. He made the first free throw and missed the second, but the Indians could not get a shot up.
Mathews led 31-27 at the half but Southern stormed to a 45-36 lead entering the final quarter.
But Mathews clawed back midway through the final quarter. Even though Mathews lost its halftime lead, staying within themselves was important.
“This team all year hasn’t quit,” Weymer said. “We have come back from bigger deficits than that.
“We only have one senior and a lot of underclassmen and we have really been galvanized by our senior Kyle (Powell) and I think these guys just didn’t want him to be done.”
Dominic Greenwood and Vinny Sharp led Mathews with 21 and 17 points, respectively.
Mathews attempted 34 free throws and that made it difficult for the Indians to play the transition game they love to play.
“They shot a lot of free throws in the fourth quarter and that slowed us down on the defensive end,” Southern coach Gerard Grimm said. “On the offensive end, we just had so many opportunities roll of the back and the front of the rim and just weren’t able to get that one bucket to put a nail in the whole thing.”
Another key for Mathews was offensive rebounds, especially off missed free throws.
“Sometimes, just the other team is going to be a little more physical and the ball bounces their way,” added Grimm, whose team finished 14-6.
Brock Smalley had 21 points and eight rebounds and Brad Sloan had 12 points, 12 rebounds and five assists for the Indians, who won the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference.