By JOHN HOWLEY / sportingpumpkin.com
WILLIAMSPORT — Zane Trace turned a four-point halftime deficit into a 15-point win Friday night at Westfall.
It was 19-15 in favor of the host Mustangs at the break and they led 23-21 three minutes into the third quarter.
Then the Pioneers scored 15 straight points over the next seven minutes of the ballgame to grab a controlling lead.
“Zane Trace is a really well-coached team, and their halftime adjustment was to get the ball into their horse and he made plays,” Westfall coach Christian Meister said. “At the end of the day, we’re figuring out how to make plays.”
That horse was 6-3 sophomore Nalin Robinson who had 20 of his game-high 24 points in the second half. Robinson had early foul trouble in the first half which limited part of his effort.
“I thought our kids in the second half came out more focused. Definitely at halftime that was what we talked about is the ball’s got to go the blocks first and our kids did great job getting it to Nalin and we went from there,” ZT coach Gary Kellough told WKKJ radio after the game.
While Robinson had a big game for the Pioneers, Meister said he was pleased with the overall defensive effort for his Mustangs.
“To give up 45 points in a high school game — and I feel like I’m beating a dead horse here — that’s enough to win,” he said. “Take away the Adena game (a 64-39 loss), we’re playing well enough defensively to win. The ball’s just got to go in the hole. We’ll figure it out.”
Shooting struggles hampered the Mustangs in the second half as their last made three-pointer came with a minute to go in the second quarter and they shot 26 percent from the field overall Friday.
“In my personal opinion, I think I have the best assistant coach in Ohio. He comes in an hour before practice and our kids shoot probably more shots than anybody. He comes in here every day before practice and gets the gun out and they shoot,” Meister said. “They’re here an hour early and stay 15 minutes late and the ball’s just not going in for them right now.
“It’s disheartening for me and I hurt for them because I know it’s not an effort thing. Anyone who watches us can see our effort. I hurt for these guys because I know the work they’re putting in and the ball’s just not favoring the work they’re putting in.”
Sophomore Blaec Bugher was the leading scorer for Westfall Friday with 11 points. Austin Nunemaker added five.
Trey Miller and Ben Nichols each had eight for the Pioneers.
The Pioneers had a 29-22 rebounding advantage Friday with Robinson grabbing eight for Zane Trace. Luke Blackburn led Westfall with seven.
Westfall’s Saturday night matchup with Southeastern has been postponed so the Mustangs have added a game with Vinton County next week. They’ll travel on Tuesday night to take on the Vikings. Their game scheduled with Washington Court House between Christmas and New Year’s also has been called off. SVC action resumes on Jan. 2.
Zane Trace 45, Westfall 29
Zane Trace — Trey Miller 3-0-8, Ben Nichols 4-0-8, Nalin Robinson 12-0-24, Xzander Ream 1-0-3, Kyle Stonerock 0-2-2. Three-point goals — Miller (2), Ream. Total — 20-2-45.
Westfall — Casey Cline 1-2-4, Blaec Bugher 5-0-11, Trevor Wolfe 1-0-2, Ashton Nunemaker 2-0-5, Brody Clark 0-4-4, Luke Blackburn 1-1-3. Three-point goals — Bugher, Nunemaker. Total — 10-7-29.
Quarter scores 1 2 3 4 F
Zane Trace 10 5 15 15 45
Westfall 8 11 4 6 29