Arrows Finish Strong Against Hounds.
J. C. Tilton
In this game you had a league leading team trying to stop a losing streak, and a struggling young team that was getting it together in the second half of the season. This was a combination that lead to a dramatic game. Shawnee had control of their division of the SWBL only to hit a losing streak, they needed a win to get their momentum and confidence back. Dixie has been struggling the first half of the year, they have some young starters who are starting to hit their stride as evidenced by a quality win the night before against Waynesville. One handicap for Shawnee was that their Post player, Zack Via was out with an injured hand, so the Arrows had to play with a shorter lineup.
Defensively, both teams opened in man to man defense. The quarter was played evenly and at the break Shawnee had a narrow lead, 11 to 10. Both teams tried a switch to zone defense at the start of the next quarter. Dixie was able to open things up as their shooters started knocking down shots. They went on a 9 point run before Shawnee took a time out to cool off the Hounds. Benji Hughes of Shawnee stepped it up at this point hitting a trey from the top of the key and turning a steal into an easy 2 point layup, this helped make up the deficit as well as Klapper hitting a trey at the one minute mark. Dixie's Kozlowski tried to respond with a buzzer beater, but the shot clanged off of the iron, still Dixie took a 25-20 lead into the locker room.
In the third quarter, Dixie went to a box and 1 to try and slow down Klapper who was having a good night. Neither of the two teams could get much advantage against the other and when the quarter ended it was 33 - 29, advantage Dixie. The last quarter saw both coaches reach into their bag of tricks in order to get an advantage. Dixie opened in a press, which they called off after several minutes. Shawnee threw out a different look zone. Tim Moore of Shawnee picked up his 4th foul early in the quarter. Shawnee was able to keep Dixie out of the paint and forced them to shoot outside. In the meantime, Dixie didn't seem to able to stop Shawnee from penetrating. At this point Moore got his 5th foul and had to leave the game, would the Arrows miss his presence in the post in the critical last minutes of the game? Dixie saw their lead slip away and finally they called a time out with 2:38 left and the score knotted at 42 all. To keep Dixie off balance, Shawnee took advantage of the break to go to a 1-3-1 zone. Shawnee then hit some key shots and had a 4 point lead, thanks to a timely Klapper free throw. With 43 seconds left Dixie went back to press and were only 2 points down, but had to foul when the clock got down to 23 seconds. Klapper this time iced 2 free throws which meant that Dixie needed two scores to stay in the game. Baily added another free throw when he was fouled the next Arrow possesion and Shawnee hung on to win 50-44.
"I was worried when I saw that Dixie beat Waynesville Friday night", commented Coach Ellis. "But it was a relief to get this win, we haven't had 3 losses in a row in 4 years. In our past few losses, I thought that we lost focus with out Via in the lineup." When asked about what the team did differently in this win as compared to the last few losing games he responded, "We had greater defensive intensity - the intensity is back. Plus we made the other team shoot from the outside in the second half. There was a shoot around this Saturday morning and the team was told to play like Champions and they responded". When asked about the spirit of the team after snapping the losing streak; "It was a good mood by the team, but subdued". He had some remarks about individual performances, "Bailey had a great effort in the 4th quarter, even with a box and 1 on him Klapper scored 17 points, and Gamble helpd the team with 5 strong offensive boards." Scoring for Shawnee: Hughes 5, Klapper 17, Bailey 12, Gamble 9, Moore 7. Scoring for Dixie: Saunders 17, Eldred 9, Kozlowski 9, Kummer 3, Spahr 6.