Season Ends for South
J. C. Tilton
The state tournament sectional final matchup would be the physical presence of West Liberty-Salem Tigers against the finesse of Twin Valley South. West Liberty had earlier knocked TCN out the tournament with a combination of in your face defense and the shooting of Tyler Ledford and Brad Coder. They had a break out quarter where they held North to just 4 points and scored at will to open a hefty lead and were able to cruise to victory. It was a similar scenario to the game against South.
The previous sectional game at UD was a three overtime affair. Middletown Fenwick finally distanced themselves from a strong Stivers team to win their section. So South had to wait on the sidelines for a good 30 minutes while those two teams battled. Maybe it was the wait, or maybe the team was too tight, but South got off to a slow start. Tyler Loxley touched the net first for TVS, followed by Derek Smith. But after that the team was having problems finding the hoop. They were getting shots, but they just weren't falling.
The lack of rebounding early did not help. Offensive boards were almost nonexistent in the first quarter and a good part of the first half for that matter. So West Liberty was limiting South to just one shot, while getting numerous second chance opportunities at the other end. South did adjust and did a much better job on the boards in the second half. But in the first quarter TVS had to take a time out towards the end to try and get back in sync. They were down 13-4 at that point and nothing seemed to go right. As an example Tyler Loxley got called for goal tending in the quarter.
The hoop was still cold towards the Panthers in the 2nd quarter. The Tigers had their biggest lead of the night up 19-4 when TVS expended another time out to get something going. The Panthers finally woke up from their lethargy when Dustin Bassler scored at the 5:12 mark. The Panthers had gone over 7 minutes without scoring to that point. Not a recipe for success against a strong tournament foe. The Panthers began to show more confidence and the scoreboard soon reflected that. Bassler would lead the way this quarter with Nuse and Loxley chiming in. The scoring in this quarter was even, both teams scored 19 points. The Panthers had managed to close within 8, but the Tigers did manage to hit a shot from thrown up from half court at the buzzer to pull ahead by 11.
Would TVS be able to battle back? They have had success with a zone defense in the last half of the season but soon would switch to a man to man. The Tigers were getting too many open looks against the zone and also rebounding well against it. The change made a difference as South did a better job of rebounding the last half and also they made up ground in the 3rd quarter. South actually lead briefly late in the quarter when a Dustin Bassler basket put South up 38-37. But the resilient West Liberty team answered on the next possession when Tyler Ledford scored. The Tigers extended their lead and lead at the end of three 45-41.
Logan Link of West Liberty opened the scoring for the Tigers in the last quarter. South was slow in scoring and took a time out to set up a press against the Tigers. Derek Smith connected for TVS coming out of this break and would go on to score most of his points in this quarter. South pulled to within 5 when Smith hit a foul shot. But about midway thru the quarter, West Liberty scored on 3 consecutive possessions. When this little run was done, South was down 56-44 with only 2:34 left in the game. To their credit, the Tigers hit their free throws in the waning minutes and managed to hang on to their lead. Tyler Loxley slammed home a defiant dunk in the closing seconds to provide the final margin: Tigers 62 Panthers 55.
Coach Augsperger post game comments about the slow start: “We knew going into the game that they were an extremely physical team. They guarded us well and took us out of stuff we were trying to run. I thought we panicked a little bit. We got absolutely no rebounds at either end in the first 9 minutes of the game. We did a bad job of rebounding at the defensive end and the same at the offensive end. One of the reasons that the game became a game was because we stopped giving them absolutely every rebound”.
Next he was asked about the defenses, “We lead briefly at 39-38 and let the wrong guys get loose twice in a row. We've been very successful defensively playing zone. We didn't move well in a zone, so we match up in a zone, we gave them a couple of good looks to get started. We went to a triangle and two and did a pretty fair job on their two scorers, but didn't rebound - they shot nothing but layups. So we had to get out of that and go man. And I thought we gave a pretty good effort at it. But it has not been our best defense and we had no choice but to do that. I thought that the most valuable player for them was Yoder, number 23. He did a tremendous job defensively on Derek [Smith]. He was very aggressive. It was a physical game and that was to his advantage. Derek has been playing good for us, but he pushed him out away from his range of shooting. They put a good athlete on Spitler to keep him out of it. Tyler [Loxley] had a good game and Dustin Bassler was tremendous. It was a game because of the way that Dustin Bassler played”.
Finally he had this to say about the senior class, “This has been a good group. I enjoy the kids that I work with most of the time. I've been blessed at Twin Valley South to have kids that by and large I enjoy working with. You have a typical coach/player relationship, I get angry at them some, they get angry with me some. I'm trying to help them grow as players and as young men. But you get groups every now and then that stand up above the rest and this is going to be a tough group to have to watch graduate. I really liked how they grew together as a team. I liked how they worked at practice and performed at games. I liked how they carried themselves. We had a few issues here and there, but that's how it is with teenagers. They were a real good group and I am sorry to see them go. I'm sorry for them that we didn't get one more game against North College Hill”.
South can take some solace that they were the last area team to be in the tournament. They finished the season with a solid 12-2 run and finished second to a strong Ansonia team in the CCC. Unofficial scoring for TVS: Dustin Bassler 23, Cory Bassler 5, Dale Spitler 4, Tyler Loxley 12, Bryan Nuse 2, Derek Smith 11. Comments: email: Chris Tilton