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South Struggles Against NorthEastern
J. C. Tilton

In the second round of tournament play, South had to work hard. After cruising to victory in game one, you certainly had to hope that the team did not use all their mojo in that one game. South had a handicap in that point guard, Dustin Bassler, has been fighting illness since that game and would not start against the Jets of NorthEastern.

In the first quarter the Panthers were lethargic at the tip off. The defense was passive and the team was not hitting the boards strongly. On their first possession, the team threw a poor pass which resulted in an over and back call. Coach Augsperger immediately called a time out at the 6:55 mark and laid down the law to the players. What ever was said snapped the Panthers back to attention and from there the team got in gear and played aggressive Panther basketball.

Smith notched the first 7 points of the night for South. Dale Spitler then hurled up a couple of treys and the offense was in high gear. Midway thru the quarter TVS had a 10-2 lead, the Jets adjusted and made up some ground but at the end of one, TVS retained the lead 20-10.

Defensively TVS played mainly a half court zone although they did throw a half court trap at the Jets to keep them from getting too comfortable. In the second quarter, the Jets were able to slow down Smith. South's only scoring was from the perimeter as Loxley would strike twice and Wes Bassler once from downtown. Brett West did most of the scoring for the Jets, hitting just once from the field and a perfect 4 for 4 from the foul line for the quarter. It was a lackluster quarter for both teams as the gap remained at 10 at half time.

In the third quarter, the scrappy Jet team made up some ground. South scored the first points of the half thanks to Loxley and Smith, then the scoring slowed for TVS. They had a 3 minute gap where they did not score at NorthEastern gradually made up ground thru out the quarter. It was the best quarter of the night for Jets as they would score 16 points and South would net just 10. At the end of the quarter South had the lead, but it was narrower - 39 to 35.

There was one personnel change at the end of the quarter. Coach Augsperger original plan was to play Dustin Bassler sparingly thru out the game. However the team had played fairly well up to this point and so he tried to rest his ailing starter. Now with the Jets fans waking up and making some noise and the momentum shift going to the Jets as well, he tapped his senior guard and inserted him into the game at this critical juncture. Dustin entered the game with about a minute left in the third and although he looked a little shaky late in the game, he would tough it out for the entire 4th quarter.

NorthEastern's Brett West got the Jets within two early in the 4th quarter, but Derek Smith responded at the other end. Again the Jets came knocking as Trevor Kushmaul answered with a basket. At the other basket Dustin Bassler would be fouled and he cooly sunk both to give TVS the 4 point lead again. On their next possession, the Jets would be foiled and now Dustin Bassler would drive home a shot to put the Panthers up by 6. Time was now getting critical and the Jets had to start sending the Panthers to the foul line and also did some full court pressure to try and get the ball.

TVS did have one miscue where a poor pass went to a Jet player under the hoop and the resulting basket pulled them within 5. But the Panthers were unfazed and were able to hit some key free throws in the final 2 minutes and it was fitting that Smith hit the final bucket of the night for the Panthers to provide the margin of victory 54-46.

Coach Augsperger was happy to escape with a victory, “In the annals of playing well and getting a tournament victory, this game is not going in it. We did what we had to do in some tough circumstances. Derek Smith was a M-A-N tonight on the boards and played exceptionally well. And I thought that Dale and Tyler did a good job under the circumstances having to play out of position. Dustin gave us a gutty quarter and a half - considering he really wasn't able to work with us all week long. He stepped up in the 4th quarter and played like he could play”.      

Scoring for the Panthers: Spitler 11, 6 rebounds; Derek Smith 22 (3 blks) 11 rebounds; C. Bassler 2; Loxley 11; D. Bassler 5; W. Bassler 3. The team shot a respectable 43.8% from the field, 31.6% for 3's, and were 50% from the charity stripe. TVS will face West Liberty Salem in the Sectional finals next Thursday at the University of Dayton Arena. Presale ticket are available at TVS. Comments

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