Alter head boys basketball coach Eric Coulter has been coaching at the high school level in some capacity for 26 years. This year’s Knights team, however, does something better than any of the other rosters he’s led before.
“I’ve never had a better 3-point shooting team,” Coulter said. “There were times in the game when I kind of wanted to pull the reigns on them a little, but that’s what we do. When we’re clicking like that with our shooting, we are hard to beat.”
Alter’s deft touch was on display Friday as the Knights hit 10 3s in the first three quarters on their way to beating previously-undefeated Wyoming 77-66 in an Division II District Final at the University of Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Bank Arena.
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The Knights (22-4) will play the winner of Saturday’s Columbus Beechroft-Eastmoor Academy game in the regional semifinals at 6:15 p.m. next Thursday at UD Arena.
The district title marked Alter’s 26th overall and first since 2016 when the Knights beat Carroll 47-42 at UD. Last year Alter lost 66-56 to Aiken in the district final. Alter owns nine regional championships.
Wyoming, the Cincinnati Hills League champion, finishes 24-1. The Cowboys last trip to the district final ended with a 66-56 loss to Dunbar in 2017. Wyoming is 85-13 the last four years.
“(Shooting) 3s is something we worked on all summer,” 6-foot-7 Alter sophomore Jacob Conner said. “It was just us getting in the gym early, staying late and putting up shots. A lot of repetition.”
Alter left little doubt early.
The Knights, who never trailed, opened the game on a 9-0 run by baskets from Conner (first of three first-half 3s), Brady Uhl, Conor Stolly and Jack Smith. Wyoming was forced to call a timeout less than two minutes in.
Stolly’s 3-pointer at the first-quarter buzzer gave Alter a 23-9 edge.
The Knights led 34-25 at half.
Wyoming cut the deficit to 36-31 with 6:04 to play in the third, but Alter closed the quarter with a 20-8 run to lead 56-39 entering the fourth. Three 3s fueled the quarter-closing spurt.
The Cowboys climbed to within 8 three times in the last 1:22, but Alter hit 7-of-10 free throws to stave off the rally.
“We started off hot and kept it going,” Conner said. “We never lost momentum.”
Smith led Alter with 20 points (two 3s), while Conner (four 3s) and Stolly (two 3s) added 17 each. Uhl (one 3) chipped in 13 points. Conner also had five boards, four blocks and three assists.
In a 106-62 sectional final win over Aiken, Wyoming got 68 points from senior Evan Prater and junior Isaiah Walker. Against the Knights, Prater had 32 points, while Walker added 14. Prater, Ohio’s 2019 Mr. Football winner, will play quarterback at Cincinnati.
“We play in a tough league and we played a tough schedule,” Coulter said. “I said this back when Coach Petro was here…It doesn’t matter who we play or where we play, we believe we are going to win. We have an inner confidence about our abilities.
“Our guys are so focused right now.”
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