Derrick Webb, Staff Writer
GLENWOOD — With the numbers that Kyle Sexton put up this past winter, it’s crazy to think that New Boston’s star forward is hungry for more.
Yet, here we are in that exact predicament.
Sexton was an animal, as usual, all year long. He was a walking double-double with averages of 19 points and 13.8 rebounds each night, he was who his teammates looked to when they needed a score the most and he was, without question, the best player in his conference.
But, it doesn’t matter. Not to Sexton because his Tigers fell short of their ultimate team goal.
New Boston fell to Fairfield by a 71-55 final in a Division IV district semifinal back on March 4.
Sexton already has a plan in place to avenge that loss during his final year of high school hoops.
“We have a lot to build on with pieces coming back for next year and we’ve had a year to get used to playing with each other,” Sexton said. “We have one more chance to really click as one and once we do, it’s going to be scary with all of the weapons we have. My freshman year, we lost in the district semifinals and the following year, we went to regionals with less talent. This is going to give us a lot of motivation because we felt like we should’ve been playing in the regionals this year. So we’re just going to work out and not let personal egos get in the way.”
When the dust cleared, Sexton had averaged 19 points and 13.8 rebounds per night during his junior campaign. Those numbers went a long way in the Tigers’ final mark of 22-2.
They’re also a central reason why Sexton has been selected as SOSA’s tri-Boys Basketball Player of the Year.
But that doesn’t matter, either. Sexton is simply focused on getting better. The grind never stops.
“Being a Player of the Year is kind of a cool title to have. I’m not going to lie. But in the end, we didn’t get where we should’ve been. So I really don’t think about [being a POY] a lot as of right now. Once I’m graduated and washed up, it’ll be cool to look back and say ‘I was this and I was that.’ But for now, I’m not worried about it.”
The season, as a whole, was a successful one for Sexton individually.
Alongside his point and rebound averages, he also posted 5.7 assists, 1.7 blocks and 2.3 steals per night and scored his 1,000th career point.
He was the SOC and Southeast District Player of the Year, and a first-team All-Ohio honoree.
“The season was so special because we just came off an underdog year as some would call it and we had lost our seniors,” Sexton said. “Nobody really knew what to expect. Then we had the Voiers brothers move back, Devon [Jones] came back from Columbus and Chase [Clark] moved in. Plus, we had returning talent in Grady [Jackson], Jerome [McKinley], Marcus [Saunders] and Malachi [Potts]. It was great to build a bond with all of those guys. The regular season was all over the place but we won a lot. It meant a lot to win an outright SOC title and win a third straight sectional championship.”
That SOC title was the first outright conference banner the Tigers have won since 1970-71. Out of a handful of moments this season, it’s that one that stands out the most.
Picture it … an exhausted Sexton, covered in sweat, sporting an ear-to-ear grin and his teammates rallying around Tigers head coach Adam Cox behind him on the court of a rival.
It’s a moment that replays in Sexton’s head over and over again.
“Winning the outright SOC at Ironton St. Joe, that’s a moment that I remember. We played so bad and went down 13 at halftime and I only had two points,” Sexton said. “Then we came out and played together and I started using my body and going inside to score. I ended up with 20 points in the second half alone and everybody really stepped up and played as one. The atmosphere was really crazy and fun to be a part of.”
Sexton’s career numbers to date are quite impressive. But it isn’t about numbers or individual accolades for Sexton and it never has been.
It’s always, always about getting better and leading his team to the promised land. That hasn’t changed and it won’t change when his senior season tips off this coming winter.
“With all of the talent I had around me, as the season went on, I felt like I started understanding my role more,” Sexton said. “Free throws down the stretch is where I improved my game the most. Next season, we’re coming back better than ever. We plan to be playing in the Final Four after sweeping through the SOC again.”