High school hoop action begins

Ripley’s Jaki Royal fires off a shot over Western Brown’s Jack Finn during the Jimmy Young Foundation Game held at Western Brown High School, Nov. 17.


Blue Jays take on Broncos in Jimmy Young Foundation Game – 

By Wade Linville – 

Attention local high school hoop fans, it’s that time of the year once again! The time of the year when teams of local student/athletes hit the hardwood to do battle in what stands as Brown County’s most popular winter sport. The time of the year when local hoop fans stock up on spirit wear and make their way to the gymnasiums to cheer on their high school hardwood heroes. That’s right, sports fans! Another basketball season has begun.
Preseason action continued last weekend as the Ripley-Union-Lewis-Huntington Blue Jays ventured to Western Brown High School on Friday, Nov. 17 to take the court for a worthy cause. The calling was the annual OHSAA Jimmy Young Foundation Game, an event to raise funds that go to benefit cancer victims and/or their family members to help cover medical, burial, or other expenses. This year’s Foundation Game at Western Brown went to benefit the family of the late Angela Marie Ostholthoff Hamblin, a wife and mother who will be greatly missed in the Western Brown community.
She was the wife of Mike Hamblin and mother to Brody, Michaela, Maddie, and Jordan. Jordan Hamblin is currently a senior and multi-sport athlete at Western Brown High School.
Capping of the evening was the boys’ varsity contest between the visiting Blue Jays and the home standing Broncos, a preseason bout that saw the Jays battle back late to pull off a narrow 56-54 victory.
The Jays struck first with junior guard Jaki Royal sinking a three-point to kick off scoring, but it was Western Brown senior Elijah Smith answering with a three-pointer on the other end of the court to begin what was an excellent night of shooting from beyond the arc.
Smith went on to bury two more shots from beyond the arc, as well as two-of-two attempts from the foul line, to rack up nine points in the first quarter. Led by Smith’s first period three-point shower, the Broncos held at 19-11 lead entering the second quarter of play.
The Jays heated up as the first half rolled along. With three-pointers coming from Ripley sophomore Peyton Fyffe and junior Landon Dearing, along with two-point field goals by Ripley junior Alex King, junior Corey Germann, and senior Ryan Harney in the second quarter, the Jays were able to slice the Western Brown lead to just four before halftime break. A field goal by King just before the buzzed to end the second quarter left the Jays trailing 34-30 at halftime.
Both teams managed 12 points in the third quarter, and entering the final frame it was Western Brown leading 46-42.
Ripley junior Landon Rigdon rifled in a three-pointer to kick off scoring in the fourth quarter, leaving the Jays trailing by just one, 46-45.
Fyffe went to the charity stripe to sink both attempts with 6:27 to go in the fourth, tying the game at 47.
With 5:45 to go, Ripley senior Brian Dunn scored on a drive in the paint to put the Jays on top 49-47.
A rebound and put-back by Ripley senior Josiah Staggs expanded the Ripley lead to four points.
The Broncos were able to cut the Ripley lead to 51-49, past the midway point in the fourth quarter, but it was an assist by Rigdon for a bucket by Dunn that restored a four-point Ripley lead.
The Broncos were able to trim the Ripley lead to two, and it was an old fashioned three-point play by Western Brown senior Jack Finn that put the Broncos on top 54-53 with 2:01 remaining.
A set of hit free throws by Staggs gave the Jays a 55-54 lead with just over 29 seconds to go.
It was Dunn coming up with a steal as Smith attempted to drive to the hoop, and it was Royal being fouled in the bonus. Dunn connected on one-of-two attempts from the foul line to increase the Ripley lead to 56-54 in the final seconds, capping off the Jays’ victory.
Royal was the only Ripley player to reach double figures, leading the Jays in scoring with 12 points.
King finished with eight points while Rigdon, Harney, and Fyffe ended the game with seven points each.
Smith led the way in scoring for the Broncos with 19 points, sinking five three-pointers and a perfect four-of-four attempts from the foul line.
Western Brown senior Clayton Wolfe also reached double figures in scoring with 12 points, and Finn ended the night with nine points.
In his first year as the RULH High School varsity head basketball coach, Rex Woodward was pleased to see his Jays play hard and pull off a win in the preseason Foundation Game.
“They showed some resiliency,” Woodward said of his Jays’ effort in Friday’s Foundation Game. “We really gave a surge there at the end of the first half and were only down by four. A lot of people were thinking by the way the game started that we were probably going to be down 10 or 12 at halftime, but after cutting the lead to four at the end of the first half we just carried it over to the second half and played good basketball.”