Happy Holidays for South
J. C. Tilton
South dominated the Preble Shawnee Holiday tournament. Experience, depth, and athleticism were all factors in South's favor. Experience both on and off the court. Coach Augspurger has held the helm at South for many years. Both North and Trail were under first year coaches, while Shawnee had back Roger Ellis, but he had been on a hiatus from coaching and this was his first year back. The South bench was deeper, they did not seem to lose a step as they put fresh players in the game. Finally the team seemed to be more athletic and made play after play on both defense and offense.
South and Shawnee met in the first round. The Arrows were gamers and stuck around as best they could, but South outpaced them. The winless Trail Blazers met the also winless TCN Panthers in the first round. Something had to give and North had a little run in the second half to open up a lead and hang on for their first win of the season.
Shawnee matched up against Trail in the consolation game. The Arrows opened with an 11-0 run and it looked ugly for the Blazers. But the Blazers regrouped towards the end of the first quarter and when on an 11-2 run of their own. Now we had a game. At the end of the half Shawnee had a 23-22 advantage. Blazer Kevin Brower, who would score 22 points, made a run at the Arrows with 9 straight points to tie and then pull the Blazers ahead by 4. But Arrow Nick Powell closed the quarter with an old fashioned three point play and a shot from the field to pull Shawnee back ahead by one.
In the final quarter, Shawnee made the most of their free throw opportunities while the Blazers fought for and got the lead, only to relinquish it when Nick Powell hit a foul shot to tie and then Logan Cottingim hit a free throw for the lead. Will Messer finished Arrow scoring when he hit from the field and a pair of free throws. Meanwhile the Blazer offense could not score in the final 4 minutes and Shawnee held on for a 46-40 victory.
North and South squared off for the championship game. The first quarter was a game. Ethan Blankenship lead the way for North scoring 9 of their 13 points and even briefly giving North the lead late in the quarter. The South attack was lead by Summers and Spitler. In the second quarter South changed strategy, assigning a defender to Blankenship. This slowed down the North scoring and meanwhile South worked the ball inside to Stone who scored 8 points in a row to jumpstart South. The momentum shift also electrified the South defense which generated several turnovers and out rebounded North on the boards.
North was scrappy and kept battling thru out the game, but the deeper South bench kept putting in fresh players and gradually wore them down. At the end, South had a comfortable Holiday win 64-43. North coach David Woodworth was asked for comment,”Our focus coming in was that we knew that South could hit the three. We knew that they would penetrate and kick out. We planned for it, strategized for it, we did everything but act. We did not take away the three. When South hits some three's and gets up by 9-10 points, it is tough to come back. We did not work the ball inside until it was too late. We were slow and methodical, but we needed to be - we didn't want to get in a running game with South. Our free throw rebounding was terrible. Three times they got the rebound and kicked it out for a three. That's a nine point swing. You can't do that against South and win.”
Next he was asked about the North - Trail game, “Even though we were cold in the first half, I thought our shot selection was good. I thought what won the game for us was the press. We knew we were quicker, we wanted to push the tempo.”
Coach Augspurger was asked about the North game, “We had tried the box and one earlier this year against Newton and it was abysmal. We stopped the one, but couldn't stop anyone else. This time it changed the complexion of the game. (MVP)Wes Bassler and Wes Rehmert did a good job of chasing Ethan Blankenship. I thought last night we struggled offensively and needed some big shots to get us going. Tonight we hit some passes on the break tonight and kept moving the basketball. But we still have a ways to go, this is something we need to get better at. We have too many offensive weapons if we pass properly. At times tonight, I thought we didn't pass effectively. And when we passed well - look at what we did. And when we get to the point where we pass the ball well all the time, then we will be a good offensive power.
About Clint Spitler, all tournament team, “Clint played well both nights. He had a good all around game last night. Had a great first half offensively for us tonight. He plays with a lot of confidence and is active on defense. He does a lot of good things for us. It's too bad we couldn't have three players on the all tournament team because Steve Summers had a good game for us tonight. He had an off night last night, but made some big shots for us tonight. I told him, you can't play when you do nothing. Tonight he was active on defense, got some good boards.” Comments email: Chris Tilton