The remarkable run of the McIntosh Chiefs came to an end Saturday Night with a 72-52 loss to the Miller Grove Wolverines in the Final Four.
The loss to a perennial powerhouse stings now, but, in time, the team will get to reflect on the greatest season in school history with pride. The Chiefs finish the season 29-3, won a second consecutive region championship, and reached both the state quarterfinals and semifinals for the first time. As there was all year, a huge crowd made the trip to Columbus State, helping make it even more special.
“We had a good thing going, not just with our players, but with our parents and the community,” said coach Jason Eisele. “To see the community really get behind these guys and support them so much has been great.”
Miller Grove recently won six straight state championships and looks poised to claim another, but the Chiefs stood with them blow for blow for the first half.
“I tip my hat to Miller Grove. They’re a really good team. They played better than we did tonight,” said Eisele. “I think my guys battled hard, it just wasn’t our night. I’m real proud of them for the work they’ve put in this season.”
The game was a curtain call for a truly special senior class, one that will be exceptionally hard to replace. It wasn’t just stars Jordan Lyons, Will Washington, Dishon Lowery, Chase Walter, and Isaac Kellum, it was also key contributors like Ulysses Brown, Braxton Shaw, and Brendon Rowan.
“I’m real proud of them. I love every single one of them,” said Eisele.
McIntosh started the game well, even building a 1-0 pregame lead after Miller Grove was given a technical foul for dunking in warmups. Even as the Wolverines shot well from outside, the Chiefs kept pace. A Dishon Lowery putback dunk wowed the crowd, and Will Washington dished to Isaac Kellum for a bucket. Washington added a block and layup, and Braxton Shaw drained a 3-pointer to stay in striking distance. Washington notched his second block of the quarter, leading to a Jordan Lyons 3-pointer to get back within one. Chase Walter’s jumper gave them their first lead at 18-17, and a Washington layup brought them back to a 20-20 tie at the end of the first quarter.
The start of the second continued the momentum as Shaw hit another three to put the Chiefs back in front. McIntosh would hold a lead as late as 27-26 on another Washington drive to the hoop.
Miller Grove responded with a run, keyed by a missed out of bounds call in their favor. Lyons kept his team close late with a pair of buckets, sending McIntosh into the half down 38-31.
The game came unravelled in the third quarter as the Chiefs had an uncharacteristically bad run at the charity stripe. For the night, the team shot 33 percent on free throws, allowing the Wolverines to pull away.
“We couldn’t make free throws. We missed a lot of layups. You’re not going to beat a team like Miller Grove with that kind of stat line,” said Eisele.
The second half was all Miller Grove as they pulled in front 53-42 after the third quarter and padded it further in the fourth. The Chiefs got their closest down the stretch on a Lowery three-point play to get within 49-42 late in the third before the Wolverines surged again.
Jordan Lyons led the Chiefs in scoring against Miller Grove with 24 points, followed by Dishon Lowery with 11 and Will Washington with 8. Lowery finished his McIntosh career with another double-double, adding 13 rebounds. Chase Walter also posted 6 rebounds.