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TVS vs. Trail III
J. C. Tilton

TVS met Trail 2 times in the regular season. Once in league play and once in the holiday tournament at Preble Shawnee. Both times the Blazers came out on top. They have a potent post man in Beck and a dangerous scoring threat in McWhinney. The third match would take place in the state tournament. Both Harrison and Augsperger are seasoned coaches and both teams have a lot of talent. South came into the game with a little momentum from their first round win and also had a chip on their shoulder from the two regular season losses. But would that be enough to turn the tide against a tough Trail team? Coach Augsperger noted in last weeks comments that South would have to play their best game of the season on both offense and defense in order to overcome the Blazers.

From the tipoff on, there was a lot of excitement from the crowd as the cross county foes clashed. Trail would open with a man to man defense. Would South open with an uptempo full court game like they did against Miami East or go with a 1/2 court defense? South opted for the latter, going with a diamond and one. The diamond to keep the ball away from Beck, the one to keep the ball away from McWhinney. They did jump into a full court look a couple of times over the night - more to try and catch Trail napping and get a quick turnover than to force the pace of the game. The Panthers offense was "on" in the first quarter. They were getting good looks and hitting their shots. Spitler chipped in a couple of three point baskets to help give the Panthers a 12-8 first quarter lead.

Trail wanted to slow down the South offense and switched to a 1-2-2 defense in the second quarter. Although South contained McWhinney and Beck, the other Trail players stepped it up. Blevins ended up with 9 first quarter points. Beck only had 1 point to show for his efforts in the entire first half. Smith from South hit some shots this quarter, but Trail made up ground. The outside shooting of Trail forced South to take a time out. Now they played a man to man in order to put pressure on the outside shooters. But South entered the locker room with the slimmest of leads 23-22. Bassler and Spitler lead the way for South with 9 and 8 points respectively.

The third quarter saw the two teams battle back and forth. Trails scored first to get the lead, but Betzner answered at the other end to take the lead back. About midway thru the quarter Trail heated up. On offense they started to score and South helped them on defense. By my count, they turned the ball over 4 consequtive times. There was an offensive foul by TVS, then 3 bad passes, back to back to back. This gave Trail the lead, albeit a slim one 34-33. South took a time out at the 1:23 mark to get the players back in sync. The teams exchanged baskets and then Betzner hit another shot with seconds left to give South another lead as the teams stood down to prepare for the final quarter.

Early in the last quarter, Betzner got his 4th foul which also gave South got its 7th team foul. So for last 7+ minutes, every South foul would be sending Trail to the free throw line. TVS threw the diamond and one at the Blazers, but they had this defense figured out. So after a few minutes South took a time out and returned to a man to man defense. At 5:30 in the quarter David Marker took a charge from McWhinney. This gave TVS the ball at a critical time. TVS allowed the Blazers to tie 4 times in this quarter, but every time someone would step up and steal the lead away from the Blazers. Bassler had a few baskets during this stretch, Betzner re-entered the game and chipped in a field goal and Spitler iced a three pointer with 2:36 to go to give South another lead. However the Blazers kept chipping at the three point lead and a few exchanges later Beck from Trail tied it up at 52 apiece with 17 seconds remaining on the clock. The crowd was shouting intensely. South ran down the clock a little and then with seconds to go the ball was in Spitlers hands. He made a move to the basket. Two Trail defender rose to stop him and he had to let go an awkward one handed shot with 2 Blazers wrapped around him. The ball kissed the glass, bounced on the rim, and sank home thru the net. The last second ticked away and South erupted in exhilaration as the horn sounded on a 54-52 victory.

This was a game where the team played well on both offense and defense and also they did pull back in the last minutes of a close game, but finished strong - a problem that they have had doing at times in the past. Coach Augsperger was pleased with the team, "[I am] extremely proud of our guys. Our kids rose to the occation, we played with heart and soul. This was exactly what we expected it to be - a battle. Our stragedy was to keep the ball away from Beck and McWhinney and make the other guys beat us - and they almost did. I feel for [Coach Harrsion] and I feel for his kids. " He went to compliment his scout team, "Our second five have done a great job of getting our guys ready for this game".


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