Cavaliers Head Coach Eric Huffer was going up against his high school alma mater for the first time and saw his squad hold off a late charge for a 52-42 win.
Chillicothe (4-6/2-1) had taken an 11 point lead early in the 4th quarter, but the Tigers whittled that lead to 37-34 with just 3:30 remaining.
McClain (5-4/2-1) forced Chillicothe to win the game from the free throw line. The Cavs hit just 6-of-10 shots from the line in between Tommy Bolte’s layups with 3:08 and again with 20 seconds left to keep the Tigers at bay.
Bolte entered the game averaging 23 points per game and was limited to 11. Eddie Wells picked up the slack with 17. Wells drained a pair of threes to erase a 12-6 Greenfield lead early in the game and put the Cavs ahead 18-16 with another bomb from the right wing. Bolte got his first bucket before the half and Chillicothe took a five point edge into the intermission.
“Eddie’s been practicing extremely well… I knew that eventually he was gonna come out of that slump” said Huffer. “That’s what seniors do and we needed that. I thought Nolan (Taylor) played really well, Isaiah’s really stepped up and Da-Da (Ondaray Bruant) came in when we needed him… that’s what we’ve been missin’. We need that.”
Chillicothe held the Tigers to just five free throws in the 3rd quarter while extending their lead to 32-22. McClain was 0-for-8 from the field in the third period and had the ball with 1:52 left and managed to run their offense to drain out the clock. “If we get this offense rollin’ and we can play defense like that… that’s a dangerous team.”
Isaiah Johnson knocked down a field goal from the top of the key for his only basket, and then the Cavs went to work from the charity stripe.
Matt Benson had a career-high 12 points along the baseline in addition to Johnson’s five points. Nolan Taylor added four and Nate Rosenbauer three.
Ryan Faulconer dropped in 16 points to lead McClain in a blue collar effort in the paint before leaving the game with three minutes remaining. Thomas Schrader scored 12, Mikel Pritchard added 5, Lincoln O’Connor 4, Evan Mustard and Wyatt Jones had two points each and Jeremiah Savage added a free throw.
Chillicothe shot 15-of-31 from the field for 48% including 3-of-7 from three point line. They spot which needed improvement, the Cavs were 17 of 30 from the line. McClain had a similar fate from the stripe shooting just 13-of-20 and managed just 14-of-39 from the field.
The Cavaliers pressure forced 16 McClain turnovers while Cavaliers had only seven.
Both teams are in action Saturday evening. Chillicothe travels to Ironton while Greenfield will host Unioto.