Trojans earn an 11-point win over Shawnee a year after a lopsided loss.
SOUTH CHARLESTON — Southeastern has big goals this season and proved on Saturday night they can play well enough to accomplish them. The Trojans beat county rival Shawnee 59-48 to improve to 5-1 and increase the season’s momentum.
Southeastern (5-1) beat defending Ohio Heritage Conference champion Triad by four points on Friday, which improved their league record to 2-0 and kept them in first place. Beating Shawnee (who has nearly four times Southeastern’s boys enrollment) was even sweeter. The Braves, who are rebuilding after losing a couple of key players, beat Southeastern by 27 points last year. It’s a loss the Trojans haven’t forgot.
“Shawnee’s a great team and they’re so well-coached,” Southeastern head coach Brian Hecker said. “But we played really hard and we were really motivated to go out and get this win. The kids did a great job.
“We knew when we saw the schedule that this little stretch here with Triad and (Shawnee) would be tough as good as they were last year. But (our players) were ready for it. That’s not much of my doing as it is them being motivated.”
Shawnee couldn’t stop Southeastern’s offense for most of the night. Spears and senior guard Jake Bertemes knocked down seven combined three’s. Bertemes, Andrew Lyons and Trevor King repeatedly scored inside as well.
Shawnee was able to cut the lead to five or six points a couple of times, but Southeastern consistently extended the lead back to double digits within a few possessions.
“We’ve got tough kids that are going to fight for everything and they just played aggressively,” Hecker said. “It was important for us to play the way we play basketball, which is unselfishly. I think that helped us score when we needed to.”
Bertemes led Southeastern with 22 points, while Lyons scored 13 and Spears added 12. King made all four of his shots from the field for eight points. Southeastern made 23-of-37 shot attempts from the field.
The Trojans, who don’t have a player taller than 6-2 and few over 6-0, had to defend against Shawnee forwards Seth Gray (6-4) and David Barnett (6-3). Southeastern is used to being shorter than opponents, and Bertemes said the experience over the last few seasons has taught them how to defend against taller teams.
“We’re never going to be bigger than anyone,” Bertemes said. “We focus on boxing out and outrunning them so when it comes to the third and fourth quarter they’re gassed and we can keep running our offense.”
The Trojans jumped out quick and led through the entire game. Colton Spears hit a pair of three-pointers and Trevor King hit a basket to cap off a 12-3 scoring stretch in the first four minutes of the first. The stretch was the game’s deciding run, as the teams more or less traded baskets from then on.
Shawnee finished the first quarter on a 14-7 run to limit the Trojans’ lead to five points. Southeastern pulled back ahead to an 11-point lead midway in the second, but Shawnee again ate into the lead and cut it to six by halftime.
Southeastern slowly pulled back ahead in the third. Lyons extended the Trojans lead to 45-35 on a basket with four seconds left in the third. The Trojans led by double digits for all but a few seconds in the fourth quarter.
Shawnee head coach Chris McGuire said Southeastern is improved since last season and should earn many more wins in the coming months.
“They’ve got great guard play with Bertemes and Spears,” McGuire said. “They play so well together. That’s the biggest thing I took away with it from watching them and prepping for this game. When you have offensive threats like they have where they can score on the perimeter and can beat guys off the dribble, they’re a tough guard.”
Shawnee (1-5) has new starters in the backcourt after losing four-year varsity players Andrew Tincher and Jaden Greenwood to graduation. Greenwood led the Braves in scoring the last two seasons, and Tincher had directed the offense as starting point guard for the last three years.
The Braves shot worse than 38 percent from the field in three of their first four games. They’ve also averaged 13 turnovers a game. McGuire said it’s been a frustrating start for the team, which is coming off of a 20-6 season.
“We don’t have much varsity experience with our backcourt, and those guys are learning,” McGuire said. “Unfortunately those guys are learning against experienced and solid guys. We’ve had a lot of games against good guard play with the Quisenberry boys from Tecumseh and (Cameron) Logwood from Urbana, and then tonight. It’s really tested us.”
Saturday’s loss was another blow in an already disappointing weekend. The Braves fell to Bellefontaine on Friday 45-42 after taking a 12-4 lead early in the game. That loss dropped them to 0-2 in the CBC Kenton Trail.
Shawnee will try to improve and build around Gray, who has picked up where he left off last season. The senior averaged 20 points and seven rebounds in Shawnee’s first four games, and Nathan Bostick averaged eight. No one else averaged over six points a game.
Shawnee closely followed its script from recent games on Saturday. Gray led Shawnee with 20 points on Friday, while Nathan Bostick scored nine. Shawnee shot a bit better from the field (17-of-39, 43 percent) against Southeastern, but not well enough to overcome a slow start.
McGuire says the Braves need to improve on defense first in order to win games.
“Everything that we’ve done over all the years that I’ve been here is dictated from the defensive end,” McGuire said. “That’s where we’ve got to be solid. The offensive stuff will come. We’ve struggled scoring more than we have in years past, so we’ve got to put even more pressure on our defense. Right now we’re putting more pressure on our offense because our defense isn’t up to par.”
The Trojans are hopeful their hot start lasts through the season and into the tournament. But Hecker said they’re not going to worry about anything further than their next game.
Southeastern plays against another CBC Kenton Trail team on Tuesday at Kenton Ridge. The Cougars have lost three games in a row since starting the year with two back-to-back wins over OHC members Catholic Central and West Liberty-Salem.
Shawnee’s next game is Friday at Stebbins.
Shawnee at Southeastern Highlights | TBSN Video Extra
Jake Bertemes Postgame Interview | TBSN Video Extra