Herrin overcomes tough start
Tigers storm back with fourth quarter scoring burst, top Massac County 69-59
Herrin – The Herrin Tigers got off to such a hapless start offensively that it even messed up the varsity cheerleaders' normal routine.

As each game begins at home, the Tigers' cheer squad set up around the court and, when the Tigers score their first field goal, the cheerleaders then toss an orange Herrin tee shirt into the crowd.

It took so long for Coach Sayler Shurtz's club to knock a shot down, the cheerleading squad finally just gave in and tossed the tee's into the crowd.

The Tigers missed their first seven field goal attempts and they didn't make a shot from the floor until 2:12 left in the opening stanza.

However a really good finish can sometimes overcome a really poor beginning.

Herrin did exactly that on Friday night in their SIRR Ohio Division contest against rival Massac County.

After trailing by as many as 11 points during the first half, Herrin chipped into the lead before busting loose late for a 69-59 come-from-behind home conference triumph.

The Tigers improved to 2-1 in the division, pulling even with the now 2-1 Patriots.

Herrin improved it's overall mark to 8-6 overall.

After a tough beginning of the season, the Tigers have now won 4-of-5 and are even with the Patriots at the top of the standings.

“We needed this win, it puts us up tied in the conference and for us, going into Salem, we can't have a let down tomorrow,” said Coach Shurtz. “This is huge for us, it shows that we can play with anybody and it continues to help our team grow.”

Massac County, the number two ranked ABV 2A squad, tasted defeat for just the second time this season, falling to 12-2 overall.

Coach Joe Hosman's club, coming into the contest fresh off of an Eldorado Holiday Tournament championship, got off to a good enough start but turnovers and defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarter sent them home with their first league defeat.

Four different Tigers put in double-figures in scoring in the victory.

Five-foot-eleven senior guard Brandon Anthony posted 19 points on the night while Herrin got 18 points apiece from 6-foot-4 senior forwards Luke LeQuatte and Reice Hartline.

Hartline came up huge in the fourth quarter, netting 10 of his points, mostly with finishes around the basket while Anthony nailed down 6-of-7 free throws in the final 4:54 of the contest.

Massac County was led by 6-foot-2 senior Jase Mizell with 16 points.

Six-foot-five junior forward Kyler McIntosh scored 12 points, senior guard Zach Travis added 11 points while senior forward Kaleb Ramer tossed home nine.

The Patriots had the misfortune of coming up empty too many times in the fourth quarter, as they committed four costly turnovers, allowing the Tigers to take control by outscoring Massac County 28-13 in the final eight minutes.

“We had to be within striking range. The score would go from (us down) 10 to four or 11 to five, and during that stretch it seemed like we would get a nice bucket but then we couldn't get a stop,” said Coach Shurtz. “We told the guys at the end of the third 'we're back in this' and I thought our defense really tired them out. In the second half our defense really created some offense for us.”

Herrin began the fourth quarter down 46-41 but they emerged with the lead after a 3-point bomb by Anthony and then a conventional three point play by the senior playmaker.

When he finished a fast break while being fouled by Ramer, Herrin led 56-52 with 2:49 left.

Coach Shurtz got a big transition score from senior guard Ian Nantz and then Hartline closed out his night with a couple of scores.

He got open for a nice spin move in the lane and then on his next touch he found a seem along the baseline for a drive for a bucket for a 60-55 spread.

The hosts closed the book on the win with 7-of-8 free throws in the final :58.

The Patriots missed an opportunity to get a big lead in the first quarter.

While Herrin stumbled out of the gate, Massac County also had some offensive issues that kept them from assuming more control.

Junior guard Tragen Keyes scored all five of his points for the Pats in the opening frame with a 3-pointer and also a mid-range shot.

His 3-point bomb from the left corner gave Massac a 16-11 first quarter lead.

The advantage reached its peak in the second quarter as the Patriots got eight points from McIntosh, including three consecutive inside baskets as Massac held a 29-18 spread

Herrin ended up cutting the halftime advantage down to just nine with baskets by Anthony and LeQuatte.

Anthony's goal was a 3-pointer, when the senior faked a defender out of position and then calmly nailed the 20-footer.

However Travis answered as his 3-pointer beat the second quarter horn for a 34-25 Patriots lead.

Baumgarte banked home a 3-pointer in the third quarter and Anthony added a second trey to his totals.

Consecutive buckets by Hartline and Anthony forced a Massac County timeout at 42-39 with 2:03 left in the third quarter.

Mizell and Ramer each added late scores as the Patriots were up 46-41 heading to the final quarter.

The final minute of the game featured an altercation of sorts between the two teams with both Mizell of Massac County and Bolen of Herrin being ejected.

Mizell picked up a foul as he and Anthony got into a shoving match after Mizell and Hartline battled for what was called a foul on the play.

Mizell was issued a pair of technical fouls and was ejected while Bolen ran onto the floor off of the bench, which is also got him the “boot.”

The technical's (four total) along with Bolen's leaving the bench ended up having no baring on the final outcome.

Herrin's Hartline knocked down two free throws and then Travis did the same for Massac County.

Massac County got the ball because of the flagrant technical on Bolen after the mess was straightened out and failed to hit a 3-pointer in the final seconds.

Herrin got the rebound and ran out the clock for their eighth win which forged a three way tie (Benton, Herrin, Massac) at the top of the Ohio Division.

The Tigers will play at Salem on Saturday night while Massac County is off until next Friday when they host Benton.

“We got some great passes by Brandon (Anthony) and Jake (Baumgarte) and they got the guys invovled,” said Coach Shurtz. “It was a great team win for us. It's a conference game, it's the River-to-River, and our guys battled.”

Editor's Note: ABV wants to recognized the three officials who worked the Massac/Herrin contest. Kevin Diss, Jim Kowzan and Eric Saunders. All three did a great job in defusing the potential brawl at the end of the game that could have gotten out of hand. They got everyone separated and back to the teams' benches. They then huddled, assessed the situation and handed out the punishments. Two thumbs up from ABV.

Massac County

Massac County (59)
– Mizell 2 2 6-6 16, Travis 1 2 3-4 11, Russell 1 0 0-0 2. Ramer 3 1 0-0 9, Sweat 1 0 2-2 4, Keyes 1 1 0-0 5, McIntosh 5 0 2-2 12.
2FG-14, 3FG-6, FT-13-14, PF-16.

Herrin (69) – Anthony 2 3 6-7 19, Baumgarte 2 2 2-5 12, LeQuatte 6 1 2-2 18, Bolen 0 0 0-0 0, Hartline 8 0 2-2 18, Nantz 1 0 0-0 2, Brandon 0 0 0-0 0, Chrostoski 0 0 0-0 0.
2FG-19, 3FG-6, FT-13-19, PF-16.

Fouled Out – None.
Technical Fouls – Mizell - Massac County (2) Ejection; Anthony (1), LeQuatte (1) - Herrin, Bolen - Herrin, Flagrant Foul (Ejection).