Just call him Mr. Critical after this one. Senior Paul Mathews came through late in the game with two critical steals, two critical buckets, and a critical assist to help propel the Trojans to a bruising 52-50 win Wednesday night over former Inter-Valley Conference rival Conotton Valley, who now plays in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference.

Leading 45-43 with just over two minutes remaining in the game, the Rockets Zac Lyon canned a three-pointer to push his teams lead to 48-43. But Trojan junior Hunter Snearey quickly answered the call with his own swish from three-point land to close the gap to 48-46.

Mathews tied the game with a score before Lyon hit his own bucket that left Conotton Valley ahead 50-48.

Upon regaining possession after a missed shot went out of bounds, the Rockets attempted to inbound the ball under the Newcomerstown basket. Mathews quickly stepped in front of the intended target to make his first steal. After several missed Trojan shots and offensive rebounds, Mathews converted on a short jumper to knot the game at 50.

Immediately after, Conotton Valley blew the inbound pass again as Mathews was all too happy to accept his second Rocket gift in a row. There was no wasting time to get to the bucket on this one, as junior Jordan Wharff, who was near the top of the key, broke straight to the basket and took the dish from Mathews for the layup.

In the blink of exploding rocket fuel, the Trojans were up 52-50 with less than 15 seconds remaining. Conotton Valley could only manage one shot before the Trojans rebounded and ran out the clock.

Eruptions immediately broke out on both sides of the court, some for the good and some for the not-so-good. While Trojan fans whooped it up for their teams last minute come-from-behind heroics, several Rocket fans who had issues with the referees calls (or lack thereof in their opinion) decided to take issue with the officials as they left the court.

As the matter went from verbal to physical, Newcomerstown police stepped in and ultimately arrested the parents of Conotton Valley player, Brandon Bailey. While fouls were called in both directions throughout the contest, apparently some in the stands did not see things that way. It was a bizarre ending to a highly competitive and entertaining game as fans lingered for quite a while afterwards trying to digest what happened.

The Rockets had forged to a 15-14 first quarter lead and extended it to 29-26 by halftime. Bailey lit up the scoreboard with 12 points in the first period alone and looked like he was going to have a banner night. But the Newcomerstown zone defense put the clamps down as Chris Poe, Kristopher Wolf, Caleb Fenton, and Wharff each took their turns shutting down the scoring threat.

From that point, Bailey, who had just gone over the 1,000 career point mark the night before against Beallsville, managed only five more the rest of game, including two in the third quarter and none in the fourth, when the Rockets could only muster seven points. Bailey ultimately had a game-high 17 points but was not a scoring factor in the second half.

Senior Cody Sproat made six free throws in the first period which helped keep the Trojans in contention.

Newcomerstown head coach Dan Weekley said, That was a good, hard fought game that we were fortunate to win. Bailey is a great player and our defensive group did a great job to contain him. I think it was one of our most solid efforts of the year.

For the Trojans (2-5, 0-4 IVC), Fenton, a senior, put on an offensive firework show in the second and third quarters. With a number of under-the-basket finesse shots and moves, Fenton scored 14 points during that time frame and finished with a team-high 16 points.

Snearey came through with eight in the second half, including two treys, to cash out with 14 points. Cody Sproat hit for 10 markers while Mathews ended up with six.

Caleb, Hunter, and Cody all did a great job scoring tonight, Weekley noted. And Paul stepped up big time with those steals and scores with the game on the line. It really was a great team effort all the way around.

Regarding the post-game incident, Weekley said, Weve got nothing but respect for Conotton Valley players and the school. It was unfortunate what happened after the game and I hope it never happens again.

In addition to Baileys 17, the Rockets (7-2, 3-1 OVAC) got 16 points from Lyon and 13 from Keaton Carrothers.

In dj vu fashion, the reserve game was no less exciting as the Trojan JV squad pulled out a very similar two-point, come-from-behind win (sans any post-game theater), 46-44.

Trailing 44-41 with 25 seconds to play, freshman Austin Zufelt nailed a trey that tied the game and then with 17 seconds left, Dustin Hickman made the go-ahead lay-up. A Rocket turnover later and the Trojans were able to run out the clock and up their record to 3-4 (2-2 IVC).

Bret Burrier burned the nets for 16 points to lead Newcomerstown. Hickman finished with seven and Steve Poe added six.

Conotton Valley 15 14 15 7 - 50

Newcomerstown 14 12 13 13 - 52

Ridgewood 72, River View 57

WARSAW The Generals trailed early but came back strong and eventually beat back the Black Bears for a 72-57 non-conference win on Tuesday.

Trailing 7-0 and 21-11, Ridgewood (5-1) slowly came back and eventually closed out the first quarter trailing 21-15.

The Generals tied the game at 28 before Zak Keesee hit a three-pointer as time expired to send the Orange and Black into the locker room leading 31-28.

River View kept things close in the third period, trailing 39-37 at one point, but could pull no closer as the Generals finished the quarter with an 8-3 run to make it 47-40. The Generals scored the first five points of the fourth period and never led by less than 11 the rest of the way.

Tanner Stoffer led the Generals with 18 points and eight rebounds while Keesee scored 17. Christian Grove knocked down a double-double of 16 points and 10 rebounds. Chris Saylor just missed his own double-double with 13 points and nine rebounds. Dillion McPherson contributed five steals and four assists.

River View (0-6) got 17 points from Jason Hammond and 16 from Michael Adams.

Ridgewood won the reserve game, 49-46 behind the 21 point effort of Josh King. Teammate Seth Bergeron came through with 11 and Alex Croston added 10.

Ridgewood 15 16 16 25 - 72

River View 21 7 12 17 - 57

Harrison Central 60, Indian Valley 42

CADIZ The Braves suffered a non-conference loss to the Huskies on Tuesday, 60-42.

Indian Valley again got behind early, trailing 16-8 after the first quarter. A Braves comeback in the second frame closed the gap to 28-24 by halftime. Harrison Central took the third period by a 12-9 score to stretch their lead to 40-33 by the end of three. It was all Huskies in the final minutes as they went on a 20-9 run to close out scoring.

Jamie MacAdam led Indian Valley (0-6) with 13 points while Brett Cox came through with 11 tallies. Ian Kandray tacked on another six.

Nick Pelegreen led Harrison Central (5-1) with 21 points, including a 10-of-12 effort at the foul line.

The Braves won the reserve game, 53-42.

Indian Valley 8 16 9 9 - 42

Harrison Central 16 12 12 20 - 60

Manchester 59, Indian Valley 32

AKRON The Braves struggled on offense all night and eventually fell to the Panthers 59-32 in a PAC-7 game last Friday.

Manchester bolted to a 14-4 first quarter lead but Indian Valley managed to cut the lead to seven with a 10-7 run in the second period to trail 21-14.

The Panthers (2-4, 1-2 PAC) used quarters of 15-7 and 23-11 to close out the second half.

Jamie MacAdam paced Indian Valley (0-6, 0-3 PAC) with 11 points. Ian Kandray and Brett Cox each scored seven.

Bryan Daily had 13 to lead the Panthers.

Manchester won the reserve game, 51-50.

Indian Valley 4 10 7 11 - 32

Manchester 14 7 15 23 - 59

Shenandoah 54, Newcomerstown 50

First-year Shenandoah coach Craig Sebring likes to tout his teams ball-handling abilities, but even he may have been surprised at the two key plays in last Thursdays 54-50 non-league win over host Newcomerstown.

After nearly 30 minutes of back-and-forth basketball, the teams found themselves in a 46-46 deadlock with Newcomerstown in possession. The Trojans missed a shot and Shenandoahs 6-1 post player Seth Thompson grabbed the rebound. The senior dribbled the length of the court and converted a lay-up to put his team up 48-46 with two minutes remaining.

Following a Zep timeout, Shenandoahs Shane Crum nearly duplicated Thompsons effort with a steal and a coast-to-coast effort resulting in another lay-up and a four-point cushion.

Newcomerstown got an answering bucket from Caleb Fenton with 45 seconds to cut the deficit to two, but the Zeps closed the game with two clutch charity tosses each from Derek Leasure and Danny Neuhart.

The Zeps Sebring, while happy with the win and his teams perfect start to the season, had post-game concerns.

Newcomerstown came out and really out-played us early, he said. We have had a tendency to wait until late in games to begin to play well. That will need to change or it will come back to bite us.

Newcomerstown (1-5) began with a 15-11 edge after a period on the strength of seven points from junior Joey Raach. The Zeps (5-0) got untracked in the second, claiming a 14-9 advantage as five different players scored. Shenandoah led 25-24 at the half.

Behind six points from Hunter Snearey and a trey from Raach, the Trojans claimed a 15-12 margin in the third to take a 39-37 lead into the final frame.

Two Newcomerstown buckets from Cody Sproat and a charity toss by Raach pushed the Trojan lead to 44-39 before the Zeps countered with a goal by Eli Hurst and a trey from Leasure to knot the score at 44-44.

The squads traded goals over the next few minutes to set the stage for Thompson and Crum.

Newcomerstown coach Dan Weekley said, We feel we let this one get away. We began the game well, but just didnt take care of the ball when we needed to the most.

Were still not shooting well enough to win close games, Weekley continued. We have got to cut down on turnovers and work on transition defense. Those two areas cost us the game, but the kids are still working hard and, dont forget, we play a pretty demanding schedule.

While the Trojans shot respectably from the floor with a 21-of-43 effort, their 6-of-12 free throw numbers and 16 turnovers combined to cost them a chance for the win.

NHS did place three players in double figures as Raach and Sproat each tallied 14 and Snearey added 10. Teammate Fenton had an impressive rebounding effort with 13.

The winners committed 12 turnovers and outrebounded the Trojans 30-28. Crum hauled down seven boards to go with 9 points. Leasure led all players with 16 tallies while Thompson added 11.

The Trojans lost the reserve game by a near identical score of 54-51. Newcomerstown (2-4, 2-2 IVC) got 14 points from Jordan Wharff and nine from Snearey.

The Zeps (4-2) were led by Brett Bonds 18 points.

Shenandoah 11 14 12 17 54

Newcomerstown 15 9 15 11 50