Hounds Outraced by Tigers
J. C. Tilton
Dixie ran into a quick Stivers team in the first round of the tournament. One noticable problem that Dixie had was taking care of the ball on offense. Every misque that resulted in a turnover, was converted into an easy layup at the other basket by Stivers. Their guards raced down the court and got easy fast break baskets too often. Dixie managed the ball better in the second half, but instead had problems with rebounding, allowing Stivers too many 2nd and third shots. Still Dixie managed to play some decent 1/2 court defense and offense - shooting around 50% from the floor. And they put together several good runs during the game, falling just short in the dramatic final seconds.
Defensively Dixie showed a 2/3 zone and did some matchup. Stivers opened with an aggressive full court man to man defense that resulted in some early turnovers. But Dixie adjusted and later in the 2nd quarter, Stivers called off the press and settled into a 2-3 zone of their own that they would use for most of the game. Stivers stayed in the drivers seat over the course of the game. They had a 5 point lead at the end of the first quarter. But Dixie came back early in the second - tieing the game at 15 all on a Ben Saunders 3 pointer. Dixie tried to capture some turnovers of their own with a 1/2 court defense, but it looked like this had been scouted by Stivers and they did an effective job of keeping the ball away from the trap. Stivers did employ a half court trap of their own during this quarter, this did seem to keep Dixie out of their offense, but was not that valuable in making turnovers. At the half Stivers was on top, 25-21.
Dixie went to a different offensive stragedy, spreading out the court on offense. In hopes of thinning the Tigers 2-3 zone. On the defensive end of the court Kozlowski was having a banner night with blocked shots. I am not sure what his total was for the evening, but he easily had a half dozen. But Stivers still outpaced Dixie, gradually extending their lead to 6 points. McBain hit a key trey towards the end of the quarter to close the gap.
Now it was crunch time, Dixie decided to start the last quarter with a 2-2-1 3/4 court trapping zone. Ben Saunders sparked the Dixie 4th quarter rally by scoring the first 3 points of the quarter. The Dixie crowd could feel some anticipation and made themselves heard. But the aggressive Dixie defense was also causing some problems. Dixie got their 7th foul at about 5:55, from here on out Stivers would be making trips to the charity stripe. Stivers also turned the tables on the Hounds, responding by having a rally of their own scoring 7 points in 2 minutes while pinning Dixie. This forced Dixie to take a time out at the 4 minute mark to regain the momentum. Coach Etter switched to a cutting type offense and on defense Dixie seemed determined not to let Stivers have any more easy baskets. It was Dixie's turn to go on a run, out scoring Stivers 9-2. Time was getting to be a factor and Dixie went to full court pressure with 1:48 left. Kummer made a clean steal and went the length of the court for a layup to give Dixie 49 points at 44 seconds. McBain drove home another trey to put Dixie to within 3, then Johnny Adams shot from the foul line and it was a one point game with 24 seconds left. It was 55-54 Stivers, but Dixie need to foul to get the ball back. Stivers scored on their trips to the foul line and just held off the Dixie challenge to win 57-54. It was a dramatic finish and it was a shame to see the heroics of the 4th quarter go for naught. Scoring: Saunders 12, Eldred 2, Adams 13(11 in last half), McBain 6, Kozlowski 7, Kummer 8, Spahr 6.
Coach Etter was disappointed after the game, although he was pleased with the way " They fought back from 11 down in the 4th quarter." Looking forward to next season he remarked, "The one thing we have to do as a program is develop a toughness. We're too soft". When asked if having access to a weight room in the off season would have made a difference, he said that no - the team needed to have a mental toughness. "We have desire We need to be physical and tough, we need to get in peoples faces". Post season awards: Rob Kozlowski first team SWBL, Eldred was second team,