CANTON: Barberton sophomore Joshua Williams and senior Scott Sabol don’t leave opposing coaches many options: defend Williams’ driving ability and leave Sabol open for a 3-pointer, or stop Sabol’s shooting on the outside and leave the lane open for Williams.
On Thursday night, neither were slowed down and the two standouts lifted the Magics past Perry 57-51 in a Division I district semifinal at the Canton Civic Center.
Sabol drained six 3-pointers and scored a team-high 22 points and Williams finished with 21 points, including several drives to the basket. On two of the drives, he left his defender looking the opposite direction with some nifty dribbling.
At a point between the second and third quarters, Sabol and Williams combined to score 23 consecutive points for Barberton, including a run of three 3-pointers from Sabol to start the second half. That surge gave the Magics their first lead of the game and eventually extended the lead to eight points.
“It’s easy to say, ‘Hey you cannot let [Sabol] score, you can’t let him get any looks,’ but then you’re taking an extra guy from trying to stop Joshua from getting to the basketball,” Barberton coach Ken Rector said. “McKinley did a pretty good job of limiting Scott’s looks in the [sectional final] but now you have Joshua getting to the basket and there’s no help.”
Sabol and Williams were enough to offset Perry senior Jeremiah Jackson’s game-high 27 points. Jackson scored Perry’s first eight points on a jumper, two runners in the lane and a dunk, and knocked down a couple of 3-pointers from NBA range. After scoring 17 points in the first half, he was limited to 10 in the second half with Williams and senior Trey Brummond applying pressure earlier in possessions.
“We just did a better job of locating him early,” Rector said. “It’s high school basketball, you don’t have kids in practice or you don’t play teams that have his type of ability that you can simulate against. Until you see it, you just can’t simulate how fast he is, how talented he is and the angles he takes. Once our kids kind of caught their breath, the kids really responded.”
The Magics (19-5) didn’t have a field goal in the final five minutes of the game, but made 11-of-13 free-throw attempts in the fourth quarter — Sabol and Williams combined to make eight.
Perry slowly fought back.
With a minute left and Perry trailing by five, Jackson nailed a long 3-pointer to bring the score to 50-48. Jackson then stole the inbound pass and senior Drew Tormasi made a jumper, but it was waived due to a foul away from the ball. Williams was then fouled and made both free throws to extend Barberton’s lead to 52-48.
Sabol got his hand on an entry pass into the lane on Perry’s next possession. He was fouled, and then was fouled on the next possession, and made all four free throws to put the game out of reach.
Perry coach Paul Wackerly said it was just the kind of game he expected, but his Panthers (17-7) missed too many shots near the rim to keep up.
“We had some shots we wanted and missed some easy bunnies,” he said. “I thought it was going to be a battle. Someone’s got to win, someone’s got to lose. ... We battled back, we had it close but we couldn’t close out.”
Barberton will play Canton Timken, which knocked off No. 1-seeded Jackson, in the district final on Saturday.
Ryan Lewis can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the high school blog at http://www.ohio.com/preps. Follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/RyanLewisABJ and on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.