Ackerman keys boys victory

LISBON — Salem’s Chase Ackerman came to life down the stretch of the 33rd annual Columbiana County Classic.

“I said this was my last half of basketball, so I better do something,” he said.

Ackerman made three baskets and was stellar defensively in the final three minutes as he led his Blue Team to an 88-80 win Tuesday at Nace Gymnasium.

He finished with 12 points to capture MVP honors for his Blue Team.

“This was a good closing statement,” he said.

East Palestine’s Clayton Murray scored a team-high 14 points inside. Salem’s Zach Bezon followed with 11 points, East Palestine’s Branden Kemp 10, Columbiana’s Jared Wilson nine and Lisbon’s Branson Brownfield eight.

Bezon and Wilson shined at point guard for the Blue Team, which didn’t have a turnover in the opening 27 minutes and finished with four total.

Beaver Local’s Zak Pappas was the Red Team MVP after scoring 17 points to share high-point honors with United’s Kaden Smith.

“I wanted to have fun, make memories and meet new people,” Pappas said.

Beaver Local teammate Drew Theiss added 14 points, including 10 in the second half. Crestview’s Scott Murray contributed 11 points and United’s Dakota Hill eight.

Six players scored early for the Red Team, which led 15-9 on a three-pointer by Wellsville’ Brandon Patterson at the 12-minute mark of the first half.

“I feel like everyone came together,” Pappas said. “I can’t complain.”

Bezon ignited a Blue Team rally as he scored eight straight points to build a 36-27 lead with 2:41 left in the first half.

Smith had a pair of three-pointers to close the gap to 42-37 by halftime.

The second half was entertaining with three ties and six lead changes.

The Red Team built a 59-54 lead on another Smith three-pointer at the 12:28 mark. The Blue team responded with four three-pointers — two by Southern’s Jacob Joiner and others from Bezon and Kemp — to go ahead 66-61 with 9:25 to play.

The Red Team rallied and had its last lead at 74-73 on a Murray three-pointer with 5:19 remaining.

Southern’s Dominic Pugliano made a layup and then Ackerman took over, scoring six points to push the Blue Team in the lead for good at 85-78 in the final minute.

Murray had a dunk and Columbiana’s Kyle Ferraro hit a three throw to make it 88-78.

“It was a bunch of fun and a good time,” Ackerman said. “It was a blast. No fights or anything, just all smiles.”

Game notes

• Pappas’ dad, Jay, was one of the officials for the boys game.

Jay called the only shooting foul against the Blue Team, which put his son at the foul line. It didn’t go unnoticed.

“There were a few little giggles,” Zak said.

By the way, Jay played in the 1989 County Classic representing Wellsville.

• Both teams shot 43 from the floor with the Red Team going 36-of-83 and the Blue Team 37-of-86.

• The Red had 11 turnovers.

• Ackerman said he was impressed with United’s Dakota Hill and Kaden Smith and Beaver Local’s Drew Theiss on his team and Lisbon’s Branson Brownfield, East Palestine’s Brenden Kemp and Southern Local’s Jacob Joiner on the Red Team.

“They are all good athletes,” Ackerman said.

• Salem’s season-opening track meet at Carrollton was postponed Tuesday, but Ackerman still had practice before the Columbiana County Classic.

“They don’t give me a day off,” he said.

• The honorary coach for the Blue Team was longtime sponsor Stan McCamon of the McCamon-Hunt Insurance Agency. He played in the 1991 County Classic at East Liverpool’s Memorial Auditorium.

• Everyone is hoping for the best for Wellsville’s Matt Rawson, who suffered a left knee injury while going after an offensive rebound with 3 minutes to play in the first half. It is believed he dislocated his knee, but it went back into place.

RED: 37-33–80

BLUE: 42-46–88

RED TEAM SCORING: Zak Pappas (Beaver) 7-1-17, Drew Theiss (Beaver) 7-0-14, Scott Murray (Crestview) 5-0-11, Tommy Kornbau (Leetonia) 2-0-4, Caleb Witmer (Leetonia) 1-0-2, Dakota Hill (United) 4-0-8, Kaden Smith (United) 7-0-17, Cameron Davis (Wellsville) 2-0-4, Brandon Patterson (Wellsville) 1-0-3, Matt Rawson (Wellsville) 0-0-0. TOTALS: 36-83, 1-2: 80.

BLUE TEAM SCORING: Jared Wilson (Columbiana) 4-0-9, Branson Brownfield (Lisbon) 3-0-8, Chase Ackerman (Salem) 6-0-12, Jacob Joiner (Southern) 2-0-6, Dominic Pugliano (Southern) 3-0-8, Clayton Murray (East Palestine) 7-0-14, Kyle Ferraro (Columbiana) 0-1-1, Connor McIntosh (Heartland) 3-0-6, Zach Bezon (Salem) 4-0-11, Tanner Utt (Southern) 1-0-3, Branden Kemp (East Palestine) 4-0-10. TOTALS: 37-86, 1-2: 88.

Three-point goals: Red 7-31 (Smith 3, Pappas 2, Murray, Patterson), Blue 13-43 (Bezon 3, Brownfield 2, Joiner 2, Pugliano 2, Kemp 2, Wilson, Utt).