Arrows and Spartans in SWBL Showdown
J. C. Tilton
Friday night the Preble Shawnee Arrows hosted the Valley View Spartans in a SWBL battle. Since the Arrows defeated Oakwood for sole possion of the top slot in their league, the team has had a bullseye on their backs as everyone wants to knock them off. The Spartans were more than ready for their chance at the league leaders. Shawnee raced out to an early 9-3 lead. But Valley View adjusted and their style of play was quickly evident - be physical and aggressive. During the last half of the quarter, the Spartans put together a good string and actually took the lead 16-13. Shawnee had their hands full with 6'9" Brandon Hassell. Post Player Zack Via had 2 early fouls while guarding him. And Jeff English quickly accumulated 4 fouls in the first quarter. So the Shawnee big men were getting in foul trouble early.
Preble Shawnee switched from their man to man to a zone in order to envelope the Spartan Center. The second quarter saw the teams go toe to toe and battle for the lead. Both teams were banging, and the whistles were sounding as the referee crew struggled to keep control of an intense, physical game. Both teams were in bonus with about 6:30 to go in the 2nd quarter. Now Valley Views post player Hassell had 3 fouls and had to go to the bench. It was beginning to look like both teams would need to go to their bench players as the fould accumulated. Shawnee did get double bonus down the stretch, but muffed some key free throws that could play a factor late in the game. Still they managed to hang onto the lead by a basket 25-23.
Both teams were less physical in the third quarter. Shawnee was a bit cold from the floor, and this allowed Valley View to pass them up. A couple of Valley View players accumulated fouls: Ross Peters got his third and Mark Ratliff his 4th in this quarter. Zack Via got a much needed break and Valley View's Hassellman went to work during his absence, scoring several points in the paint. Shawnee stayed close and Klapper hit a three with less than a minute left in quarter to put the Arrows within one 33 - 34.
Valley View must have dusted off their cannons during the break as they came out and methodically hit 3 treys in a row to pull ahead of the Arrows. Coach Ellis took a time out to cool the Spartans and to throw a different defensive look at the Spartans. They switched to a different zone and pressured the outside shooters. The last 2 1/2 minutes saw the two coaches run thru almost their entire allotment of timeouts as the game became a chessmatch. At one point, Valley View took a time out, set a play, saw the defense of PS had changed to a man to man, and took another time out to set yet another play. Would using these two time outs in a row come back to haunt them? Thanks to some tough defense, Moore was able to hit a shot on the ensuing possession. The next Shawnee possesion Benji Hughes was fouled and was sent to line. He had been scoreless to this point, but in the last minute of the game he hit his first free throw to give Preble Shawnee a three point lead. This was a cricitcal shot, with so little time left, this meant that Valley View now needed a three point basket to tie. Valley View tried to set a play with their last time out and 18 seconds left. They ran the play, but Shawnee sniffed it out and Valley View had another inbound with seconds to go. But no time outs were left to try and set anything up. They inbounded and got off a hurried three point shot that clanked off the rim. Preble Shawnee won a tough game 48-45.
When asked for comment, Coach Ellis responded, "It was a war, a physical game. We had three experienced referee's who did a good job of not letting things get out of hand. I was proud of the kids and they way they played together. Like I told the kids, if you can keep [the other team] out of the 50's you can win. We held this Division 2 team to 45 points. " He concluded by adding, "Via has been a pleasant surprise this season. He had a critical offensive board at the end. He earned a starting spot by playing stiff defense. Moore made a steal and basket at the end. This is one of the funnest teams that I've coached, every night someone steps up." Shawnee is 8-3; 5-0 in the SWBL.