Joiner scores 44 to lead Southern to title

SEBRING — Canton Heritage Christian had already beat the Southern’s boys basketball team on the Indians’ home floor earlier this season, but Southern flipped the script when a trophy was on the line with a 87-54 win in the Sebring Holiday Hoops Classic championship game on Saturday night.

“They came into our place and smacked us so we wanted to get the win tonight,” Southern coach Gerard Grimm said. “We wanted to come out and shoot better.”

The Indians did, starting the onslaught by scoring nine the first points before Heritage Christian could get a bucket and led at the end of the first quarter 26-9.

Jacob Joiner led the way for the Indians with a 44 point performance.

“I’m thankful for the team I have to put me in this situation to score that many points,” Joiner said.

It was different than the first game on Dec. 9, when the Conquerors beat the Indians 69-40.

“The first game Jacob was in foul trouble,” Grimm said. “We were able to move the ball better against the zone and we threw some different things at them they didn’t see in the first game.”

The Indians won their second game in as many days to improve to 5-4 on the season.

Heritage Christian was deal its second loss of the season and are now 7-2.

“When you get yourself into a hole that early it’s hard to come back from,” Canton Heritage coach James C. McKenzie II said. “We start primarily freshman and sophomores but they battled tonight.”

“They came out in a zone and we were able to pick it apart making them switch to a man defense,” Grimm said.

Max Hart had 11 points for Southern and Cam Grodhaus added 10 points.

“We’ve been starting fast against a lot of teams but haven’t been able to maintain it,” Grimm said. “That’s the biggest thing we have been working on at practice is keeping the momentum going.”

“As the season goes we have to be able to win both halves like tonight.”

Heritage Christian was led by Angelo Millini with 31 points.

“This was a great tournament,” Grimm said. “You come in the door (at Sebring High School) and see all the trophies, you know this is a place where people win. We wanted to come here to win too. It had a great atmosphere run by Coach (Brian) Clark and the hospitality was great.”

Heritage Christian also saw contributions from Ken Martin with nine points.

“I appreciate Sebring asking us to come here to play,” McKenzie said. “Most teams don’t invite us to play unless it’s homecoming or senior night. So they plan to beat the crap out of us but the kids responded well to this tournament.”

Southern will return to action in the new year when the Indians travel to Toronto on Friday.

“We are chasing teams in the league now and have to finish in the second half,” Grimm said. “Keeping our legs and shooting in the second half is what we are still working on.”

Southern currently is tied for third place in the Eastern Ohio Athletic Conference.

Game notes

• Jacob Joiner was named tournament MVP. The Holiday Hoops all-tournament team consisted of Crestview’s Scott Murray, Sebring’s Jake Hunter, Heritage Christian’s Angelo Millini, Evan Caldwell and Southern’s Max Hart.

• Joiner’s 44 points fell 3 short of the Southern scoring record set by Lance Weston (47) in 1995.

• In the consolation game, Sebring beat Crestview 52-43.

HERITAGE: 6-9-16-23–54

SOUTHERN: 26-23-18-20–87

HERITAGE SCORING: Devon Thomas 0-0-0, Austin Guy 0-0-0, Sterling Hunter 2-1-5, Evan Caldwell 2-0-4, Ken Martin 3-2-9, Cadence Brown 2-1-5, Angelo Millini 9-11-31. TEAM TOTALS: 18, 15-29:54

SOUTHERN SCORING: Dominic Pugliano 1-0-2, Cam Grodhaus 3-2-10, Jacob Joiner 15-8-44, Tanner Utt 1-0-3, Max Hart 5-0-11, Nick May 2-1-5, Brock Smalley 1-0-2, Jayce Sloan 3-0-6, Tyler Roush 1-0-2, Tanner Patterson 1-0-2. TEAM TOTALS: 33, 11-16:87

Three-point goals: Heritage 3 (Millini 2, Martin) Southern 10 (Joiner 6, Grodhaus 2, Utt, Hart)