Ben Mueller did little to hide his emotions as he scored in transition in the fourth quarter Friday for Port Clinton’s first lead of the second half in the Redskins’ 58-47 victory over visiting Margaretta in the Sandusky Bay Conference.
Drew Fodor and Kaleb Mizener responded with consecutive 3-pointers a short time later as Port Clinton established an advantage for good at 51-45.
“We had momentum going,” Mizener said. “I know my teammates trust me. I was open. The first-half jitters got out of us and shots started falling. In the second half, we started getting into them and speeding them up. That made the difference.”
Angelo Frias scored off a feed from Bailey Kimberlin for a 51-47 deficit but Mueller added a three-point play as Port Clinton scored the final seven points.
“Ben had a tremendous fall and got some confidence in his game,” Redskins coach Von Graffin said. “He became vocal. He’ll lead the huddle. He’s stepped up and it was evident. He played with emotion and energy. He’s worked hard on his game.”
Port Clinton senior Nathan Stubblefield led all scorers with 18 points. Stubblefield, who can hit perimeter shots and finish around the rim, force turnovers and create space for others, didn’t play basketball as a junior.
“You’re going to take the good with the bad,” Graffin said. “The rust. He forced some things, but athletes like that can get their own (shots). We didn’t have that last year. When he learns to get his own in the framework of what we’re doing, we’ll be good.”
Stubblefield had eight points in the fourth quarter and Fodor added seven of his 13 as Port Clinton (1-0, 1-0) outscored Margaretta (0-2, 0-1) 25-6 to erase a nine-point deficit in the fourth quarter.
“We were a step behind and a step slow in the first half,” Graffin said. “Our depth wore them out a little. The inside-out 3s, we got great looks. Kaleb needed a game like that.”
Port Clinton didn’t win a single game last year after trailing with 4 minutes to play.
Sophomores Frias, Kimberlin and Oliver Thomas, and freshman Nick Leibacher started for the Polar Bears. Senior Jacob Hayes started as well.
“We’re extremely young,” Margaretta coach Steve Keller said. “I’m proud of our guys. We went on the road and competed. I’m asking guys to play varsity basketball after they were in the eighth-grade. We did a nice job executing the game plan. We rebounded. Their ball pressure late was good. They got after us.
“We put ourselves in position late. We’ll only improve and get better. There’s a lot to draw from.”
Leibacher scored a team-high 14 points, Kimberlin had 11 and Frias 10.
“Leibacher is a special freshman,” Graffin said. “You can’t get the ball from him. He had athletic kids guarding him and didn’t get rattled. He’s already a coach on the floor. If you know a kid can get the ball wherever you want or spin and score … he’s a nice player.”
Port Clinton 11-12-10-25-58
Margaretta: 3-point goals: 3. Scoring: Angelo Frias 5-0-10, Bailey Kimberlin 4-2-11, Oliver Thomas 1-0-3, Dylan Morris 2-0-5, Nick Leibacher 4-6-14, Jacob Hayes 2-0-4. Totals 18-8-47.
Port Clinton: 3-point goals: 7. Scoring: Drew Fodor 4-4-13, Kaleb Mizener 3-0-8, Ben Mueller 3-1-7, Ryan Alexander 1-1-3, Brandon Moore 1-0-3, Nathan Stubblefield 8-1-18, Stone Scott 2-0-6. Totals 22-7-58.