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Smith's Jewelers tops Sadler for boys YBL title

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Smith’s Jewelers’ Landon Thompson (32) battles Leo Underhill (23) of Sadler Orthodontics for the opening tip as Smith’s Gannon Harris (30) and Vincent Farris (4) watch during the boys tournament championship game of the New Castle Evening Optimist/Henry County YMCA Youth Basketball League Thursday in New Castle Fieldhouse. All four boys did well, as Thompson had 20 points and eight rebounds, Harris had nine points and 16 rebounds, Farris had seven points and seven boards, and Underhill had 10 points and seven rebounds. Smith’s defeated Sadler 43-35 for the title.
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Team members and coaches of Smith’s Jewelers pose with the big trophy while holding smaller individual trophies representing regular season and tournament championships after Thursday evening’s boys tournament championship game of the New Castle Evening Optimist/Henry County YMCA Youth Basketball League in the Fieldhouse. Smith’s defeated Sadler Orthodontics 43-35 to capture the tournament title and finish a perfect 17-0 season.

By DAVID RISLEY - drisley@thecouriertimes.com

Smith’s Jewelers left no doubt it was the best team in the Boys Division of the New Castle Evening Optimist/Henry County YMCA Youth Basketball League as it completed a perfect season with a 43-35 victory over Sadler Orthodontics in the boys tournament championship game Thursday evening in New Castle Fieldhouse.

Smith’s finished the 2018-19 season with a spotless 17-0 record while Sadler ended its campaign at 11-6.

The primary story about this game was the rebounding prowess of Smith’s and the inability of Sadler to take advantage of most of its opportunities at the charity stripe.

Smith’s owned the glass in this contest, as it pulled down 42 rebounds to just 21 for Sadler, which was double the output for the victors in that department. As a example, Smith’s had seven rebounds (six of them of the offensive variety) in just 1:12 of playing time early in the fourth quarter.

Smith’s Gannon Harris corralled a whopping 16 caroms, 13 of them in the first three quarters. Landon Thompson had eight boards, Vincent Farris seven, and Isaac Middleton six.

With that big of an edge in rebounding, Smith’s was able to hit five more field goals in the game, which accounted for the difference in the score at the end.

Despite that, Sadler had its chances to close the gap as it went to the free throw line twice as many times as Smith’s, but could drain only 6-of-20 foul shots compared to 4-of-10 for the champions.

Boys Division leading scorer for the season Landon Thompson also assumed that role in this contest, as he tallied a game-high 20 points, 16 of them in the first half when the contest still was a one or two-possession game. Thompson buried a trio of three-pointers.

Thompson scored only four points after intermission, but his teammates picked up the slack to help stave off any comeback thoughts Sadler had on its mind.

“I was hitting my shots that first half,” Thompson said after the evening’s awards ceremony, “but they (Sadler) were sagging in on me in the second half so I couldn’t get off as many shots. But that’s OK. We have a really good team and other guys on it can score, and they did. Gannon Harris was really active on the boards for us, which really helped.”

This game was Thompson’s swan song in the Youth Basketball League.

“I really enjoyed playing in this league,” Thompson added, “but I’m in sixth grade, this is my final season in it, and I’ll be moving on the 7th grade next year. I’m really looking forward to playing on this floor again when I reach high school.”

At the start of the game, it looked like Smith’s might win in a rout. Led by a Thompson trey and regular bucket, and another three-pointer from Evan Millikan, Smith’s zoomed out to an 8-0 lead with 4:17 remaining in the first quarter. 

Sadler’s Bryant Cornelius finally removed the goose egg on the scoreboard for his team by canning a shot from behind the arc to make it 8-3, but Thompson nailed another three-pointer and added a pair of free throws a little later to boost Smith’s advantage to 13-3 with 2:21 left in the opening period.

Sadler didn’t throw in the towel and Cornelius hit a trey and Maddox Lovell made a basket to pull Sadler to within 13-8 after one.

Then it was Leo Underhill time for Sadler. Underhill, who was scoreless in the first quarter, hit consecutive buckets to complete a 9-0 run for his team, and Sadler trailed just 13-12 with 5:15 remaining in the second period.

Harris finally ended the four-minute scoreless spell for Smith’s by sinking a three-pointer for a 16-12 lead, but Underhill responded by draining a shot from behind the arc to pull Sadler to within 16-15.

Thompson converted a traditional three point play at the 2:39 mark of the second quarter to restore a 19-15 lead to Smith’s, but Underhill hit a pair of charity tosses and Johny Howe made a bucket for Sadler, and suddenly the game was tied at 19-all with 39 seconds left in the first half.

But Smith’s doesn’t need much time to score, and Thompson sank his third and final three-pointer of the game and Hanan Drummond added a basket, and Smith’s led 24-19 at intermission.

Harris and Farris notched buckets to open the third quarter to expand Smith’s lead to 28-19 with 5:11 left in the period. Another Cornelius trey and Howe basket brought Sadler back to within 28-24 at the 3:13 mark of the period.

But Smith’s outscored Sadler 10-4 the rest of the quarter and led 38-28 after three periods.

Sadler fought furiously to try to get back into the game in the final period and had its opportunities. It went to the free throw line 13 times in the fourth quarter but could cash in only three of them.

Sadler did outscore Smith’s 7-5 in the final stanza, but the closest it could get was seven points at 40-33 and 42-35.

In addition to Thompson’s 20 points, Harris had nine, Farris seven, Millikan five, and Drummond two for Smith’s.

Cornelius led Sadler with 15 points, followed by 10 from Underhill, four apiece from Lovell and Howe, and two from Carter Hoelscher.

Smith’s Jeweler’s 43, Sadler Orthodontics 35

SADLER ORTHODONTICS (35)

Cornelius 5 1-4 15, Scott 0 0-0 0, Howe 2 0-2 4, Underhill 3 3-7 10, Hoelscher 0 2-6 2, Lovell 2 0-1 4, Dile 0 0-0 0, Nunn 0 0-0 0. Totals 12 6-20 35.

SMITH’S JEWELERS (43)

Farris 3 1-3 7, Millikan 2 0-0 5, Middleton 0 0-0 0, Harris 4 0-0 9, Thompson 7 3-7 20, Drummond 1 0-0 2, Cook 0 0-0 0, Baggs 0 0-0 0. Totals 17 4-10 43.

Sadler 8 11 9 7 — 35

Smith’s 13 11 14 5 — 43

3-point goals – Sadler 5 (Cornelius 4, Underhill), Smith’s 5 (Thompson 3, Millikan, Harris). Rebounds – Sadler 21 (Underhill 7, Howe 4, Hoelscher 4), Smith’s 42 (Harris 16, Thompson 8, Farris 7, Middleton 6). Total fouls – Sadler 12, Smith’s 12. Records – Sadler 11-6, Smith’s 17-0.