STRUTHERS - The Sebring Trojans rode into the Division IV Struthers district tournament on a four-game winning streak. The team tacked on two more wins to its season total and captured its first sectional title in seven years.
Unfortunately a shot at the district title simply wasn't in the cards as the Trojans fell 50-47 in the semifinals to Wellsville Tuesday night.
The Tigers were the last team the Trojans lost to back in February.
"We played hard all night," head coach Mark Baia said. "I can't fault the effort. We just missed some key block outs. We were getting good looks, they just weren't falling for us towards the end of the game."
In the beginning of the game those same looks were falling for the Trojans. The team's first nine points came from two Corey Baia 3-pointers and another trey by Mitch Baddeley.
Sebring led 14-11 after the first quarter and 24-20 at half.
But Wellsville began to chip away at the slim Trojans lead in the final frame which included a big 3-pointer by Camden Douglas.
Douglas finished the night with a game-high 21 points and four buckets from beyond the arc.
"We weren't talking," Baia said. "We gave up a couple easy buckets in the second half on miscommunication."
Those few buckets turned out to be the difference.
Sebring was led by Jake Hubbs with 13 points and four assists. Mitch Baddeley added 11 points. Dakota Wagner had six points, seven rebounds and three blocks, and Baia had seven points and four assists.
The Trojans came a very long way from earlier in the season.
Sebring started the year 2-4 and 0-4 in Tier 2 of the Inter-Tri County League. They finished 12-5.
"We just started to believe in each other," Baia said. "We started playing better as a team toward the end of the season. We played hard and our defense was improving. As we got into that winning streak we were fundamentally better."
Those fundamentals are something Baia hopes his underclassmen keep working on in the off-season. After changing coaches for the third time in as many years, Baia is looking to bring long-term stability back to the Sebring program.
"I think our future is bright," he said. "We really need some young kids doing some things in the off-season. If we can get kids to buy into that part and do the work it takes, I think we'll be in good shape.
Tuesday night, however, marked the end of the Sebring careers of Wagner, Hubbs, Baia, Baddeley as well as Tony Sabatine, Jake Arbitter, Ian D'Ostroph and Joe Campbell.
"It's kind of bittersweet that my first season is their last season," Baia said. "I coached these seniors when they were in the fourth grade. I'm gonna miss them. The program is gonna miss them. They left their mark on the program bringing a section title back, and by getting really close to the district final. They definitely made an impression on the younger guys."
Wellsville's Josh Carter and Seth Bradford added 10 points each. The Tigers (13-9) move on to face Mogadore 7 p.m. Friday in the final.
Mogadore defeated Southern Local 58-46 in the night's first contest. Southern's Jared Shilot had 12 points, while J.J. Napierkowski added 11, and Luke Griffith added 10.
Mogadore was led by Michael Duma with 18 points.
E-mail B.J. Lisko at firstname.lastname@example.org
SEBRING: 14 10 15 8 - 47
WELLSVILLE: 11 9 16 14 - 50
SEBRING SCORING: Josh Hurford 2-0-5, Corey Baia 2-1-7, Tony Sabatine 1-1-4, Mitch Baddeley 4-0-11, Jake Hubbs 5-3-13, Dakota Wagner 2-2-6, Jake Arbitter 0-1-1. TEAM TOTALS: 16, 8-15, 47.
WELLSVILLE SCORING: Camden Douglas 8-1-21, Nate Scott 1-0-3, Seth Bradford 5-0-10, Brendan Carr 2-0-4, Jordan Sloan 0-2-2, Josh Carter 5-0-10. TEAM TOTALS: 21, 3-5, 50.
THREE POINTERS: Sebring 7 (Baia 2, Baddeley 3, Sabatine, Hurford), Wellsville, 5 (Douglas 4, Scott).