The latest chapter in the long rivalry between the Washington Blue Lions and Miami Trace Panthers played out in the Panther Pit before a very large crowd Friday night.
In a game with 14 lead changes, all of them in the first half, the Panthers, who led by as many as 10 points in the third quarter, held on for a 60-58 win over the Blue Lions.
Miami Trace improves to 7-5 in the SCOL, good for fourth place, just one game behind Chillicothe in the loss column. The Cavaliers fell to Wilmington Friday night, Chillicothe finishing the SCOL with a record of 10-4.
Washington is now 10-2 in the SCOL, 15-4 overall.
With the win and the Blue Lion loss, Wilmington is the outright SCOL champion for the 2015-16 season, currently at 13-0 in the league, 19-1 overall.
The Blue Lions have a game at Wilmington Thursday night.
The difference maker in the game was Miami Trace junior Tyrae Pettiford, who poured in a career-high 33 points.
Junior DeAndre Pettiford was next for the Panthers with 13 points.
For the Blue Lions, senior Max Knisley led with 18 points.
Senior Cameron Eckles had 14 points and junior Griffin Shaw scored 10.
There were six lead changes in the first quarter as the Panthers took a 15-14 lead at the end of eight minutes of furious action.
In the second quarter, there were eight lead changes, including six in a row as the Panthers extended their lead to five points, 33-28 at the half.
DeAndre Pettiford hit a two-pointer, a three-point bucket and moments later a free throw to give Miami Trace its largest lead of the game, 39-28, with 6:34 to play in the third.
The Blue Lions began to turn the momentum back in their favor, starting with a three-point goal by Knisley with 5:43 to play in the third.
The Panthers had a couple of empty possessions and Knisley scored again to make it 39-33. He quickly stole the in-bounds pass and was fouled in the shot attempt, making one of two from the line.
Tyrae Pettiford interceded with a bucket for the Panthers, but Kory Proby scored with a rebound and stick-back and after two more pointless trips down the floor, Knisley scored to make it 41-38 with 1:06 to play in the third.
Pettiford and Proby exchanged baskets to make it 43-40 at the end of the third quarter.
Tyrae Pettiford continued to score for the Panthers, with back-to-back buckets to open a 47-40 Miami Trace lead to start the fourth.
Shaw had a rebound and put-back, followed by Pettiford again and then Knisley and then Eckles to once again make it a three-point game, 49-46 with 4:26 to play in the game.
Darby Tyree scored for the Panthers and DeAndre Pettiford scored off a steal for a quick four-point burst and a 53-46 score.
Tyrae Pettiford then hit a three, answered by Blue Lion junior Kenny Upthegrove with a three of his own.
Down by five, Jarett Patton hit a three for the Blue Lions to make it 56-54 with 1:49 remaining.
After back-to-back Panther turnovers, Washington had the ball in the low post, but missed the close-in shot to tie.
Cameron Carter picked an auspicious time to hit his first basket of the game, to make it 58-54.
After a Washington time out, Patton scored on a lay-up to make it 58-56 with 24 seconds to play.
The Blue Lions had to foul to send Miami Trace to the line.
Who else on this night but Tyrae Pettiford sank two throws with 17 seconds to play.
Coming out of a timeout, Eckles scored at the buzzer to make the final 60-58, Miami Trace.
The Panthers needed almost all of that 11-point lead, according to head coach Rob Pittser.
“We needed to build a lead against them,” Pittser said. “They are so resilient. They get great shots. They’re going to come out of time outs and execute plays. They have kids that can make threes.
“We knew the 11-point lead was no where near safe,” Pittser said. “They came roaring back, as they always do. That’s why they have the record that they have. It’s a testament to their head coach and their coaching staff. We had to earn this. You’re not going to beat Court House by happenstance.
“You’re going to have to earn every single bit of it,” Pittser said. “We’re just fortunate that when the clock ran out tonight, we had two more points than they did.
“Our guys put four quarters together,” Pittser said. “I thought Tyrae had his best game, buzzer to buzzer. When he’s attacking the basket the way he was tonight, he can cause a lot of problems. When our energy is up, we can cause (teams) a lot of problems, even one that is as structured and disciplined and skilled as Washington Court House.”
The Panthers out-shot the Blue Lions Friday, 54 percent (26 of 48) to 41 percent (25 of 60).
“I think that their athleticism makes you play a little faster at times than you really need to,” Washington head coach Shannon Bartruff said. “When you’re in a tight game like that, and you dig a hole and you have a player like Tyrae who has a career night, you have to make those (close-range shots).”
Bartruff was speaking about the number of what are sometimes referred to as ‘bunny-shots’ (close-in, near the basket field goal attempts) that did not fall for the Blue Lions on this night.
“When you miss them, it’s more than just a miss,” Bartruff said. “It’s demoralizing; all the air kind of goes out of the building. Defensively, you may be rattled for a couple of passes while you’re trying to collect yourself after you don’t make that shot.
“I felt like the team that played the toughest and the hardest for 32 minutes won the game,” Bartruff said. “I give credit to coach Pittser and his kids. I felt like every kid they had on the floor played with energy, heart and effort every second they were on the floor.
“I felt like we were just too passive at times,” Bartruff said. “We talked about how this game was going to be as much about mental toughness as it was physical ability.
“Tyrae was unbelievable,” Bartruff said. “We couldn’t guard him. I can live with him making a couple of threes, but, the lay-up line that he did for basically four quarters was unacceptable, especially in a game like this.
“We had too many breakdowns down the stretch,” Bartruff said. “Against Unioto (a 63-61 loss at the buzzer) last Saturday, we played hard, we just didn’t make enough plays. Tonight, we didn’t play hard enough, long enough, consistently enough and it cost us in a close rival game. We have to learn from this.”
Miami Trace is right back in action Saturday evening with another tough challenge when they travel to Unioto High School to take on the No. 2 team in the State, the Shermans.
Unioto held on for a 60-57 win over Westfall Friday in Scioto Valley Conference play to improve to 19-0. Westfall is now 12-7 overall.
The Blue Lions are off Saturday and will host Springfield Shawnee Tuesday at 6 p.m.
Elsewhere in the SCOL Friday, Hillsboro beat McClain, 56-53 and East Clinton beat Clinton-Massie, 59-52.
SCORE BY QUARTERS
MT 15 18 10 17 — 60
W 14 14 12 18 — 58
MIAMI TRACE — Tyrae Pettiford 12 (2)-3-33; DeAndre Pettiford 4 (1)-2-13; Blake Pittser 3-0-6; Darby Tyree 2-0-4; Cameron Carter 1-0-2; Mitchell Creamer 1-0-2; Skyler McDonald 0-0-0; Brad Card 0-0-0; Jacob Batson 0-0-0; Seth Leach 0-0-0. TOTALS — 23 (3)-5-60. Free throw shooting: 5 of 7 for 71 percent. Three-point field goals: T. Pettiford, 2; D. Pettiford. Combined field goal shooting: 26 of 48 for 54 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 3 of 13 for 23 percent. Rebounds: 25 (9 offensive). Assists: 13. Steals: 6. Blocks: 4. Turnovers: 11.
WASHINGTON — Max Knisley 4 (3)-1-18; Cameron Eckles 7-0-14; Griffin Shaw 2 (2)-0-10; Kory Proby 3-0-6; Jarett Patton 1 (1)-0-5; Kenny Upthegrove 1 (1)-0-5; C.J. Taylor 0-0-0. TOTALS — 18 (7)-1-58. Free throw shooting: 1 of 2 for 50 percent. Three-point field goals: Knisley, 3; Shaw, 2; Patton, Upthegrove. Combined field goal shooting: 25 of 60 for 41 percent. Three-point field goal shooting: 7 of 14 for 50 percent. Rebounds: 27 (13 offensive). Assists: 10. Steals: 4. Blocks: 1. Turnovers: 7.
In the j-v game Friday, Washington beat Miami Trace, 49-29.
Richard Burns Jr. was the game’s leading scorer for Washington with 11 points.
Blaise Tayese was in double figures with 10.
Evan Upthegrove and Dillon Steward each scored eight points; Matthew Marrs had four points; Kenny Arboleda, Jack Luebbe and Nicholas Barrett each scored two points and Austin Bailey had one point.
For the Panthers, Ross Matthews led with nine points.
Heath Cockerill scored six for Miami Trace, Adam Ginn and Austin Matthews both had five points; Drew Batson scored three and Ian Herbert had one.
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1