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Chaney too much for Warriors

YOUNGSTOWN–West Branch’s boys basketball team faced a tall task coming into Thursday’s Div. II district semifinal against a Youngstown Chaney team which may have a solid argument as to being the best team in the Youngstown area.

Using its size, experience and speed, the Cowboys, a Div. II district winner a year ago, downed the Eastern Buckeye Conference co-champs 73-41.

“What didn’t show on film because we didn’t get to see these guys live was their size inside,” West Branch coach Michael Brown said. “On film you watch them against really good teams and that size does not show on film. It proved to be challenging in there.”

Chaney used the adjusted COVID season to schedule some of the toughest teams in Northeast Ohio including Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary, Brush, Mentor, Medina and Massillon Jackon. It lost to them all but learned along the way.

“Our schedule is built for this,” Chaney coach Marlon McGaughy said. “A lot of teams looked over us because of our record, but they don’t understand. We played top teams in the state in Div. I.”

Chaney, which got a late start to the season due to COVID-19, is 11-6 on the season and will travel to No. 2 seed Poland for the district final on Saturday. Poland defeated Louisville 43-33 in the night’s other semifinal.

West Branch ended its campaign at 18-7.

Chaney’s starting lineup boasted three players at 6-foot, 4-inches and above. On top of that the Cowboys all-time leading scorer Sharrod Taylor terrorized the Warriors with a team-high 18 points.

West Branch was in the fight early as it was tied with the Cowboys at 7 with 4:27 to play in the first. Chaney then went on a 12-0 run to end the quarter and an 11-0 run to start the second to essentially put the game out of reach.

West Branch was playing with its starting point guard Jed Smith for the first time in two weeks due to him being quarantined for COVID-19 exposure. His brother Brock was also back for the first time in two weeks for the same reason. Neither was sick with the virus.

“It was challenging because they’re a great team as you saw,” Jed Smith said. “I just had to step up and be there for my teammates because they were there for me.”

Jed Smith said he was upset he had to miss some time but knew he had to do the right thing to stay safe and healthy.

“None of our guys used it as an excuse all year and I’m really proud of them,” Brown said.

West Branch was down 41-16 at the break, but it did close the gap to 20 in the third quarter forcing Chaney to call a timeout at one point.

“In a game like this where a lot of adversity strikes on the road, it would have been easy to show bad body language, but I thought our guys showed a lot of maturity,” Brown said. “They kept working for four quarters. That’s the reason this team got to 18 wins. These seniors deserve everything they have gotten out of this season.”

Departing West Branch seniors include Alek Wilson, Josh Gregory, Jarrod Rose, JD Brain and Brock Smith.

Sophomore Dru DeShields led the Warriors with 18 points.

In addition to Taylor, Chaney had four other players score in double figures. Quincy Jones had 16 points, Josiah Gonzalez 12, Cameron Lawrence 11 and Clive Wilson 10.

A lot of the hype in the Youngstown basketball scene in Div. II has been directed at Struthers who is undefeated. Chaney defeated that Wildcat team in the district final last year, but this time around the two can’t meet until the regional finals due to the new seeding procedures for district tournaments.

“It’s a good thing for Northeast Ohio to have these super districts where sometimes you’ll have two teams that are side by side that are very capable of getting down to state,” Brown said. “Struthers is an undefeated team and (Chaney) is a three seed. It just goes to show you how good our district really is.”

Notes

– While the West Branch girls team was halted from playing in the Div. II state semifinal last season due to COVID, Chaney’s boys season came to a halt just as it was about to meet Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary’s in the regional.

– The Cowboys had won their first district title since 2001 last season. The Cowboys athletic program was on hiatus from 2011-2018 due to Youngstown City Schools changing the mission of the school toward STEM and performing arts.

– This was believed to be the first district tournament game hosted by a Youngstown city school in many decades. The South High Field House was the last regular host to tournament games in Youngstown.

– Knowing it was their last home game of the season, the Chaney players doused their coach with confetti after the game. The surprise was conveniently hidden in a Gatorade bucket.

W. BRANCH: 7-9-18-7 – 41

CHANEY: 19-22-19-13 – 73

W. BRANCH SCORING: Nick Wilson 3-0-7, Jed Smith 1-0-2, Jaxon Hendershott 3-2-10, Josh Gregory 0-0-0, Jarrod Rose 0-0-0, J.D. Brain 1-0-2, Dru DeShields 8-1-18, Andrew Coffee 1-0-2, Brock Smith 0-0-0. TEAM TOTALS: 17, 3-4: 41.

CHANEY SCORING: Davinci McDowell 1-0-2, Josiah Gonzalez 6-0-12, Cameron Lawrence 5-0-11, Isaiah Williams 0-0-0, Quincy Jones 7-2-16, Jason Hewllett 2-0-4, Sharrod Taylor 7-1-18, Clive Wilson 5-0-10. TEAM TOTALS: 33, 3-5: 73.

Three-point goals: West Branch 4 (Hendershott 2, Wilson, DeShields), Chaney 4 (Taylor 3, Lawrence).

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