Sunday, February 07, 2016

North Notches Win

This has been a tough season for North. But this week was the best week for North to add one to the win column as they had 3 league games – all against CCC teams who were struggling as well. So it was a busy week and when equally matched teams play, it can lead to exciting games. And 2 of North's games this week were decided by just 2 points. So there was 4th quarter drama as well.

The Ansonia game was a fierce battle with 16 lead changes. North had problems hitting their shots on the road as they only shot 27% from the field. Still they kept the game tight. With seconds left in the game North caught up to Ansonia due to 2 Zach Edgin free throws only to see them go the length of court and execute a pick and roll for the lead with 5 seconds left. North had no time outs left and hastily tried to inbound the ball and get off a desperate shot. They threw up a shot from midcourt, it did hit iron – but bounced away. And so Ansonia was able to post a 47-45 win. It was the hard luck Panther's 6th game decided by 5 points or less.

But the Panthers did not have much time to nurse their wounds as they had to play Bradford next. Both teams were fighting to stay out of the basement of the league. But this game found North in an unfamiliar position – playing with double digit lead. Bradford opened in a 2-3 zone and North took advantage as Damon Nelson and Garrett Woodyard connected on 3 point shots to give North an early lead. And when they put more pressure on the wings, Kurt Brinson began to score in the paint – he would score 16 of his 22 points in the first half.

So at halftime North had a comfortable 29-13 lead. But the Railroaders went to work in the 2nd half and began to chip away at the North lead. They began driving to the basket to score. North had been playing a 1-3-1 zone and switched to a 2-3 zone to put more bodies in the paint. But offensively North got a little sloppy with the ball and gave up some turnovers. Bradford started the second half with a 9-2 run and when the last quarter started the lead had shrunk to 10 points, 40-30.

At the 4 minute mark the Railroaders had the lead down to 6 points and North was having a rough time making their shots. But defensively the Panthers were making plays. With about a minute and a half left in the game Bradford began fouling. And on the next 4 Panther possessions it was senior Zach Edgin who was their target. On this night Bradford picked on the wrong person as Edgin coolly sank 7 of 8 chances to keep the Panthers ahead. With seconds left, Bradford scored to make it a 2 point game, but the Panthers were able to keep the lead and the ball as time expired for a thrilling 53-51 win.

“We started out playing well and had a nice lead,” stated coach Spitler after the game, “They clawed back into it and made for an interesting finish. I am glad that we hit those free throws at the end to hang on. Zach Edgin was clutch in the 4th quarter. Brinson scored well for us and rebounded well. Woodyard had 10 points. I was happy to get this win – it took awhile to get it, but it feels good.”

The Panthers finished their week against National Trail whom they had beaten earlier in the season. Maybe the team was mentally and physically exhausted from playing their 3rd game in a week, but the Panthers could not figure out the Blazers. It seemed like the team used up all their shots the night before against Bradford. They did not score in double figures in any single quarter.

The game was close at halftime 22-16 in favor of Trail. But the Panthers were cold coming out of the locker room while the Blazers caught fire and built a double digit lead that they were able to ride out to the end of the game. The Blazers were able to avenge their earlier loss with a 43-30 win.

Next week will be a battle of the Panthers as North hosts South on Friday night to close out the regular season. The two teams met earlier in the season at Shawnee's holiday tournament where South won 56-52.

Friday, February 05, 2016

State Champ Aaron Deaton to be a Bearcat

Twin Valley South's Aaron Deaton - a state champion at shot put, is continuing his throwing career at the University of Cincinnati where he will be studying business.  He is pictured here signing his letter of intent with his track coaches Richie Faber and Jim Wells.  Deaton was also prominent on the Twin Valley South Football team where he was named the Cross Country Conference lineman of the year.

At Cincinnati, he will focus on the shot, but will have opportunity to try his talents at events that high schoolers generally do not have a chance to try – the hammer throw and maybe even the javelin. Events where his explosiveness and athleticism can be utilized. His football coach, Tyler Cates, remarked during the football season that at a larger school it would not be a stretch for Deaton to have been used as a fullback with his power and speed. But at Twin Valley South, a player with his size almost had to play the line – but South did use him in the backfield successfully several times during the football season.

There were some small schools that were interested in Deaton as a football player. But at the Division I level, there was scholarship money available for his skill at the shot put. He settled on the University of Cincinnati because of the campus and atmosphere. He also liked the coaches that he would be working with and the athletic facilities.

However he is not resting. The senior is working hard this winter to pick up where he left off last season. He is doing winter track and recently competed at a meet held January 23rd at Ohio State. He won the shot at the meet with a 49' throw. So he seems to be in winning form once again. He also had a throw of over 50', but fouled. Souths track coach Faber remarked that, “He is well ahead of where he was at this time last year.”

He further said that he looked like he was in midseason form already when you look at where he was at a year ago. Souths boys and girls track teams won district titles a year ago and Deaton was a big factor in South's success. South boys only lost a few athletes to graduation and return a solid team.

Coach Faber was asked for comment on this story and was asked to continue his thoughts about this year's track team, “I am extremely excited to get it going. We have a lot of our talent coming back. We lost a couple of good guys, but most of them are back. We should have similar results – maybe even better than a year ago.”

On the girls side Coach Mabry will return some decent runners, but he is worried about depth. “We need runners to fill out the relay teams, and we need athletes to get us extra points besides just 1st or 2nd place. We will see how many go out this spring when the season starts, that will determine our strength as a team.”

Barring injury it looks like Deaton and the rest of Souths teams are on schedule for another record breaking season.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

TVS Wins in Triple Overtime

Twin Valley South notched 2 victories this week, but it took 3 overtimes to get that first win over Franklin Monroe. It was a heated defensive battle that lasted deep into the night and it took superior effort by South's seniors to pull off the win 57-53. South was able to get their second win over Bradford. It was another defensive struggle early but South pulled ahead in the second quarter and held off a few Bradford challenges to win again 52-42.

The junior varsity game between South and Franklin Monroe set the tone for the evening as their game also went into overtime. South would win this game 60-57. The varsity game was knotted 11 all at the end of the 1st quarter as Jacob Bassler sank a basket at the buzzer to tie the game.

The 2nd quarter began with the Jets going on a 10-2 run to open up a lead. The Jets were playing in a zone, but South's players were not hitting their shots on the perimeter. Coach Augspurger took a time out about mid way through the quarter to make a change. South began trapping on defense. South played man to man most of the night, but would ambush the Jets by double teaming the ball.

The defensive change seemed to slow down the Jets, while Souths shooters began to hit their shots again. Still South found themselves down at the half 26-21. The second half had too many lead changes to count. Neither team could hold an advantage for long.

As the clock wound down in regulation, each possession became more and more critical. South was up 44-41 with 2 minutes left and went into a slowdown. This forced the Jets into man to man defense in order to get pressure. The Jets got it to within 1 with 40 seconds left. The Jets went to the foul line with about 8 seconds left with a chance to win it. It was a shooting foul – but the Jets missed the 1st shot, but made the second one to tie the game at 44 apiece.

In the 2nd over time Franklin Monroe popped out to an early lead and it was their turn to play slowdown. But South was able to get the ball back and senior Jacob Bassler hit a big 3 point shot as the clock was winding down to tie the ball game back up at 48-all.

Amazingly neither team was able to score in the 2nd overtime – maybe they were all just too tuckered out. But Mike Meyers, who had not been shooting well on the night, hit a big three point shot to put South in front. This rallied the hometown crowd – and they got more vocal. Seniors JJ Utz and Jacob Bassler seemed to feed off of this energy and made drives for layups into the teeth of the Jet defense. The Jets tried to mount a comeback, but made some turnovers. And South was able escape with the win.

“I challenged my team at halftime – I said that sometimes I think we don't hate losing enough.” stated coach Augspurger afterwards, “You have to hate to lose – it has to mean something to you. And the team responded to that. I thought we defended better in the second half. We took some gutty shots and made them. ”

Next he commented on the overtimes, “They played really well in the overtime. JJ Utz made some big shots in the last overtime. Mike Meyers hit that big 3 that got us started in that last overtime. And Jacob Bassler hit that big 3 in the first overtime to keep us alive and helped in that last overtime. He has had one heck of a year.”

North Late Rally Falls Short

Tri-County North dropped two league games this week. Mississinawa Valley has been playing good basketball this season and they are firmly in ensconced in the top half of the league. North had a tough time gaining traction against the Blackhawks and fell 65-37, But their next game was at Franklin Monroe, where the Panthers fell behind early but mounted a furious comeback attempt in the 4th quarter that fell short.

The Jets play well on their home court – the Hanger, and they shot comfortably in the first quarter. North played in a zone and the Jets hit from the outside and were able to gain an early advantage. The Jets played man to man almost the whole night and were able to rebound defensively – limiting North to one shot on most possessions. The Jets finished out the quarter with nice run and were up 18-11.

North spread out their offense in an attempt to open things up in the 2nd quarter. But they had a hard go of it making any headway. And things got more difficult for North when post man Kurt Brinson got his 3rd foul and was benched about half way through the quarter. He does the bulk of the scoring for North and coach Spitler would remark after the game that when Brinson returned to floor he could not be as aggressive on defense with the fouls hanging over him and so he was not as effective.

So North was down 31-23 at the half. North was not able to make up ground when they got back on the court and the frustration boiled over when the North bench was called for a technical foul. Adding even more to the Panthers woes.

The 4th quarter began with a double digit lead for the Jets. And the Jets were probably starting to make their plans for after the game. But North had other ideas. They altered their defensive set and went into a 1-3-1 trapping zone. That defensive change lead to steals by the Panthers. At the other end of the court, the Panthers found their mark and began making shots. Zach Edgin scored 8 of his 10 points during this stretch. Brinson would foul out, but North kept the pressure up.

The Jet lead evaporated and it was 5 point game, and then a 3 point game with 2:24 left on the clock. But the Jets woke up and made some key shots to pull ahead. They went into a slowdown around this time. North tried to hard to catch up but their efforts fell short and the Jets would win 55-45.

“I thought we played pretty hard, we played well,” commented coach Spitler after the game, “We battled, we didn't give up, and that 1-3-1 worked for us in the end and made things interesting. I am proud of the guys – I think we are making progress, teams can't sleep on us. Losing Brinson did effect us, he is one of our leaders, one of our captains. He does so much on offense and defense for us. But even before he got his 5th foul he had to play tentatively.”

Sunday, January 24, 2016

South Splits Weekend Games

South had to play two tough games on the road this past weekend. They ended up splitting the games, bu their win was a league win, which moves them up a spot in the league standings. Mississinawa Valley has been playing some good basketball this season and are in the top half of the CCC with Twin Valley South. It was a defensive game where the two teams sparred all 4 quarters and South managed to come away with the win, but it took some 4th quarter heroics to walk out with the victory.

South was up at halftime, but the score was 17-16. So scores were hard to come by for both teams. South was playing tough defense, but on offense shots were not dropping for them. However, the Blackhawks were able to pull ahead in the 3rd quarter and put some daylight between themselves and the Panthers. They had a 6 point lead going into the last quarter.

South responded in a big way behind the shooting of Jacob Bassler. He scored 14 of his 25 points down the stretch. South went on 12-1 run to pull ahead and try to take the drivers seat. But the Blackhawks recovered and clawed their way back. They retook the lead with less than a minute left in the game. South was down one and inbounded the ball under their own basket with just 15 seconds left. Jacob Bassler scored on a layup and put South up by one and then Chad Ehler was fouled at the other end of the floor and hit a free throw to provide South with a 2 point win – 44 to 42.

“I thought it was a very good win for us,” said coach Augspurger after the game, “We got a win against a team in the top half of our league on the road. It was a tight game, and Jacob Bassler had a huge 4th quarter. We struggled to score, Bassler had 25 and Mike Meyers had 11 and so between them was the bulk of our scoring. It was one of our better defensive efforts.”

South traveled to Brookville the following night. And it is tough to play two emotional games back to back – in the first quarter it seemed like South might have spent all their emotional energy at Mississinawa Valley. Brookville came out hard and intense in the first quarter, and rang up 22 points on the Panthers. Something that the normally stingy Panthers don't often do.

South played even with Brookville the remainder of the game and made a couple of runs at them, but couldn't overcome the deficit. They pulled to within 5 points of the Blue Devils once and in the 4th quarter they were at 7 points down but once they saw the Panthers in the rearview mirror, they went into high gear and pulled ahead. The Panthers fell 67-55.

“I thought that in the 1st quarter that they brought more energy than we did.” commented coach Augspurger, “This game and Talawanda are the only two games where I really felt that the other team came in much more inspired at the start than we did. Both of those two teams were bigger than us and physically better – and if you can't match that, then you can't be the team that brings less energy. “

Next up for South is a game against a resurgent Franklin Monroe who has a transfer that is now active and a freshman who can score, “Franklin Monroe is playing better. They had some struggles at the start of the year. They started like 2-6. But they have a freshman, Ethan Conley, who is coming into his game and scored 32 points recently. This is not going to be an easy game.”

Dixie Bounces Back

After dropping 3 games last week, Dixie was able to bounce back and notch a couple of victories. But the wins were not easy. And in between the two wins, Dixie had to play league leading Northridge. The Polar Bears have been chewing up SWBL competition - they are undefeated in league play and unless something drastic happens they will end the season that way. So although Dixie was tagged with that loss, it was a positive week for the Hounds as they book ended wins on either side of the Northridge game.

First up for Dixie was Waynesville, a team that they had defeated earlier in the season. The team may have been too relaxed going into the game as they allowed the Spartans to pull ahead in the early going, allowing the Spartans to go to the locker room at half time with a 6 point lead. They then grew the lead to 10 points in the second half.

With their backs against the wall, Dixie began to battle their way back in the 4th quarter. They gradually caught up with Waynesville and actually had the lead. But they allowed the Spartans to score a tying layup to put the game into overtime. Once again the score was close but Dixie managed to eek out a 2 point victory 73-71, thanks in part to Justin Keirns who padded the Dixie lead from the foul line.

Next was Northridge. The Hounds played with the Polar Bears for about a quarter and half. Then the Polars seemed to wake and decide it time to stop playing around. They seemed to score at will and defensively they shut down Dixie. Their dominating post player Drew Ogletree scored 21 points and held Dixie's post player, Cody Grubb to just 6. The final was Northridge 67 and Dixie 45.

The final contest of the week was against National Trail. The Blazers shot well early on and pulled ahead for the lead. Dixie was in a zone and Trail was shooting well from outside. Dixie would later go to a man to man to get more pressure on the perimeter. But they did press successfully in the first half and they were able to get points from turnovers. Trail was up by 2 in the 1st quarter, but Dixie made a good run in the 2nd quarter and captured the lead by halftime, 29-21.

Dixie did hit some shots from the outside, but a lot of their scoring was close in to the basket. Post player Cody Grubbs and Blake Miller scored scored 21 and 20 points respectively and most of these were from driving to the basket. Also it was good to see Dixie scrappy on the court defensively. They went to the floor several times diving for loose balls and were able to get a lot of turnovers during the course of the game.

Trail figured out the Dixie press in the 3rd quarter and so Dixie had to fall back into a half court defense. Trail made up a little ground and pulled to with 4 points to start the last stanza. Sophomore point guard Devon Worley got into foul trouble and he was pulled from the game with 4 fouls and put back on the court at the 3:38 mark. And in no time he got foul number 5. And Trail was pressing – trying to close the gap and Dixie was trying to play keep away with out their point.

It was another nail biter for the Hounds as they had to fend off Blazer attempts at a comeback. But Miller handled the duties of point guard well enough and the team as a whole hit their free throws when they needed them the most. They extended their lead for a 62-50 win.

Coach Williams was pleased with the win, “It was a hard fought game, National Trail played well, they shot the ball well. I thought that we still had too many lapses on the defensive end. We are still a work in progress, but I was happy to come away with the win.

The defense, “I thought the intensity was there, and the effort. But now we need to get smarter. We have to know what we are doing out there. We can't just be rah, rah, let's go get them – we have understand where their man is, where the ball is, and so forth.”

On Worley fouling out, “It definitely changed us, because he is our point guard and we rely on him. Fortunately for us, Blake Miller was able to pick up the slack and have a good game for us. We were lucky to have a decent lead when it happened. But Miller and Grubb scored well for us tonight, they are seniors and we expect that out of them. We just need this on a more consistent basis.”

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Dixie Three Game Skid

The new year has not been kind to Dixie. Although they began the year with a win over Dayton Christian, they have dropped 3 games in row since then. They played well for 3 quarters against Middletown Madison but coughed up 23 points in the last quarter before being dropped. Next they played the CCC's Arcanum where they got off to a slow start and spotted the Trojans a 14 point lead. They then played furiously in the 2nd half, but their comeback fell short 74-63. Next up was Carlisle, in 2nd place in the SWBL Buckeye Division. But even with home court advantage, Dixie fell to the Tribe 69-42.

A lot of fan's were hoping that Dixie would be able to put together a complete game. Against Madison the team played well until the 2nd half, while against Arcanum they had a bad first half – but had a late comeback attempt that fell short. So a lot of folks were hopeful that the team could play 2 solid halves against Carlisle, but it was a game where things started well but faded as the game went on. Cold shooting and the inability to stop Carlisle on defense were their downfall.

Both teams played furiously in the first quarter. The scoring was fast paced and the teams seemed to score at will. The score was even – 16 points apiece at the first break. Both teams played man to man defense at that point. Dixie would later try a zone and full court pressure in an attempt to slow down Carlisles potent offense. In the second quarter, Carlisle went on a little run and opened a lead. Dixie was cold from the floor and had problems pulling in rebounds against Carlisles bigger lineup. So they did not get many 2nd chances on missed shots.

So Dixie went to halftime down 9 (21-30). And in the 2nd half, Carlisle picked up where they left off – scoring the first 5 points of the half to open a double digit lead. Coach Williams had seen enough, he cleared his bench and pulled his 5 starters. The replacements pressed hard, but their defense not enough to slow down the Indians who gradually lengthened their lead in the second half. And with Dixie pressing they piled up the fouls and by the end of the 3rd quarter they were giving up bonus – sending Carlisle to the foul line for free shots.

Then in the last quarter, Dixie gave up some easy turnovers which Carlisle turned into points. Carlisle was able to extend the Dixie losing streak with a 69-42 win.

There was a long meeting in the locker room by Coach Williams after the game and he spoke afterwards, “Not to take anything against these three teams, and against Carlisle tonight we would have had to play really, really well to win – but we are beating ourselves. As coaches we are trying to get through to these guys that we are not defensively sound enough to win these games.”

He continued the thought, “The guys are playing hard at the wrong end of the basketball court. Meaning that they are playing hard offensively but lagging back on defense. We are not getting back, not going after rebounds – that's what is killing us. We have to put forth a better effort defensively. If you work hard on defense, offense will be easy for you.”

On the 5 out and 5 in substitution in the third quarter, “That was a move by me to make a point. We came on the court only down by 9, they jumped out in front of us because we would not defend. We seem to think we can get it back with a 3 point shot here or a jump shot there, but we just need to defend. We were not doing that, so I brought 5 new players in.”

Next week Dixie plays Waynesville at home on Tuesday and league leading Northridge at Northridge on Friday, then end the weekend as road warriors at National Trail on Saturday night.

South Rebounds Over Weekend

After a tough loss to start the week against league leading and defending state champs Tri-Village, Twin Valley South was able to rebound from that loss with a pair of wins to end the week with renewed momentum.  Against the Patriots, South could only muster 30 points, but over the weekend they scored 58 and 63 points in their two wins.  South’s offense has been struggling to score this season and it seems like the team might have found another gear.

Tuesday’s game was a defensive battle between the Panthers and Partiots.  South tried hard to keep the game close, but open shots were hard to come by.  And the Patriots offense was slowed but not stopped entirely by South.  They would win 43-30, but South had a morale victory of sorts in that they held Tri-Village to 43 points - their lowest point total of the season for their high powered team.

South could have been demoralized by the loss - it did drop them back to a .500 record.  But the team seemed eager to prove themselves.  Although they did not not start either game particularly strong, the team finished furiously both times. Against Shawnee, the team was down at halftime and outscored them in the second half for a 63-53 win.  Newton held the game close until the last quarter where again South went on a scoring binge and opened a 10 point lead for a 58-48 victory.

South’s offense prowess was thanks in part to Mike Meyers who scored in double figures both games. JJ Utz and Jacob Bassler have been the main scorers for South this season, and South has been needing a 3rd scoring option.  Meyers had 14 points against Newton and 22 points against Shawnee.  So he provided some extra offensive punch for South when the team needed to rebound from the Tri Village game.

Coach Augspurger on this past week, “Tri Village is doing a better job of pushing the ball this season. In the past they relied more on their half court sets. I thought we battled against them fairly well, but their defense is very good - we were just unable to score.  But this weekend, I thought we played pretty good.  We put up 58 and 63 points in back to back games, something we have done much this season.”

He continued on the wins, “Our offense was much better this weekend. We did not defend quite as well this weekend - but we weren’t bad. We had 12 3’s against Shawnee.  One big change was Mike Meyers.  He has been in a massive shooting slump. He had a great summer and we were looking for big things, but it has not been his season until now.  Hopefully this is the start of big things from him.  Winston Crossier had some big three’s for us and Jared Cottingim scored 9, so it is great to see them starting to score. ”

Next weekend South will be on the road, visiting Mississinewa Valley on Friday, and Brookville - who knocked South out of the playoffs last season, on Saturday.

Sunday, January 10, 2016

South Experience Nets Win

Both South and Ansonia entered the evening contest with 2 game losing streaks and both teams wanted to get back on track with a win. The 1st half of the game was a battle of the defenses, with neither team able to score much. South had the lead at half 14-12, a score more befitting a football game than a basketball game. In the 2nd half both teams opened the throttle on their offenses and the pace of scoring picked up. The two teams battled back and forth with several lead changes. But South made a nice run at the end of the 3rd quarter and into the last quarter to give themselves a double digit lead. Ansonias young team had a shooting slump and had several turnovers during this time frame. Ansonia made a couple of late charges, but South held them off for a 49-37 win.

During the pregame, channel 7's Mike Hartzog was master of ceremonies for an award given to South's coach Tony Augspurger who had recorded his 400th victory just a few weeks ago. He has also won 5 conference championships during his 30 year career.

But there was not much offensive action for channel 7 to film in the 1st half. Both defenses were stingy and both teams were boxing out effectively on defense and getting those defensive rebounds – meaning that neither team was giving up many second chance points. Ansonia played a matchup zone that put good pressure on South's outside shooters and tangled up any attempts by South to score in the paint. South played in man to man defense – mixing in a half court trap a few times and some full court pressure – particularly in the 2nd half.

Coach Augspurger would later remark, “Ansonia did not get many open shots, but the ones they took dropped in.” The Tigers alternately drove to the basket from a 4-1 set, or worked the ball around the perimeter for an open shot. But the young Tigers (only 1 senior on their roster) faltered down the stretch. Sometimes a young team can tighten up under pressure and make mistakes. But South, with 4 seniors on their roster, remained poised and made their shots with the game on the line.

The two teams scored at a quicker pace in the 3rd quarter and the lead changed several times. But in the 4th quarter with both teams pressing for the lead, the Tiger offense grew cold – they had problems making shots. And Ansonia who had done a good job of handing Souths defensive pressure to this point, gave up the ball several times on bad passes or poor ball handling. South with their experience handled the pressure well and benefited from these mistakes and grew a double digit lead. Ansonia did try to press to overcome the deficit, but South was able to control the ball down the stretch and walk off the court with the win.

Coach Augspurger on the game, “I don't think we gave them [Ansonia] a ton of open shots, but the ones they got, they made. I thought we responded well, we didn't panic. We continue to work on our defense and I thought we had a 5 minute stretch where we played as well as we have all season. We made stops and limited them to one shot by rebounding. Then at the other end, we made our shots. That 5 minute stretch was huge, it was the difference in the ball game.”

He continued, “Both Jacob Bassler and JJ Utz made some critical plays. JJ plays like a senior should at point and Jacob is relentless. He is not the quickest, but he has been our best offensive weapon. He attacks and attacks – he grabs rebounds, he scores inside, he does what he needs to do for our team.”

On the low first half scoring, “Their defense is good. We found it confusing at times. Both teams were playing really tough defense. Chad Cramer is a very good coach – we were joking that we were sorry to see him back in the league. He has had a lot of success wherever he has coached.

Scoring: Ryan Bassler 6, Mike Meyers 2, Jacob Bassler 14, Winston Crossier 5, Andrew Augspurger 5, JJ Utz 12.

Next week South has a their work cut out for them as they battle defending state champs Tri-Village at Tri-Village on Tuesday and then play back to back games at home on Friday and Saturday against Newton and Shawnee. So it will be a busy week for the Panthers.

Thursday, December 31, 2015

South Runners Up in Shawnee Tournament

South entered the Shawnee Holiday tournament with some momentum -having defeated Bethel (only 1 loss at the time) the week before. After fending off rival Tri-County North in the first round, South encountered Talawanda in the finals. The Braves had defeated host Shawnee the night before 58-39. And they were able to go through South like a buzzsaw. An unrelenting man to man defense and an offense that could sink the 3 pointer as well as drive the ball in to paint made short work of the Panthers who would fall 46-32.

In the North game, South had to have someone else step up when their leading scorer, Jacob Bassler, was saddled with a North defender close by for a good bit of the game. Both JJ Utz (13 points) and Winston Crossier(15) points stepped up their games to help make up the difference. Bassler would still score 18 points on the night despite the extra attention.

South allowed North to creep back into the game in the last 3 minutes. And suddenly it was a 2 point game and the momentum was all North. But with about 18 seconds left and South with the ball, North had to foul. JJ Utz was sent to the line and he calmly sunk 2 free throws to pull South 2 scores in front. North turned over the ball on their next possession and South was able to run out the clock and preserve the win.

The story was different in the Championship game. South has been able to get points off of turnovers against other teams, but they found both turnovers and points hard to come by against the Braves. It was 19-6 at the end of the 1st quarter and 32-14 at halftime. Late in the 2nd half they did resort to a trapping half court defense and did generate some turnovers. South closed the gap somewhat but the Braves had plenty of cushion in their lead and were able to end the night with a comfortable victory. It was a disappointing end to the tournament for South.

South did put 2 players on the all tournament team – JJ Utz and Jacob Bassler. They lead scoring for South against Talawanda with 8 and 20 points respectively.

“Any game this year where we are not the hardest working team on the floor we are going to lose,” stated coach Augspurger, “I told that to the team tonight. We are not big, we are somewhat athletetic – but not physically gifted enough to get by on talent alone. We win by defense and effort. Talawanda came out and they were aggressive and physical. We did not meet their challenge. They took it to us and they were the more aggressive team. They were hungry tonight and it showed.”

He continued, “We got shell shocked early, and I took some timeouts to get settled down – but I could not find the right buttons to push. The only positive that I can come away with is our 4th quarter defense. We only worked on that trap a couple of times in practice, but we came out and did it with intensity. So that kept us from getting totally embarrassed.”

North Loses Two Exciting Games

Tri-County North lost both games at the Shawnee Holiday Tournament, but both losses were in exciting fashion. North has had 6 losses this season by 5 points or less. So they have been in many of their games, they just need to figure out how to win. They played their first round game against South and the game was close at the last minute with North charging hard. But South made some critical free throws to preserve a 56-52 win. In the consolation game against Shawnee the next night, again North made a strong bid to come from behind in the last seconds, only to miss the tying shot at the buzzer and fall 50-52. So North is showing that they can play with some strong teams, they just need to finish games.

The North – South was a rivalry game, but it was also the first match up between North's coach Spitler, (a former player South player for Augspurger) and South's coach Augspurger. And for a week night game starting at 6pm the game was well attended by fans from both teams. They got their money's worth. South did escape with a win, but it was not easy.

North had scouted South well and for a good portion of the game they played a zone with a player assigned to spy on South's Jacob Bassler, who has been the leading scorer for South this season. This was particularly effective in the first half with North getting a 1st quarter lead 14-11. South played man to man defense and did try to press North a little, North got some baskets off of it so thereafter South pressed sporadically to try and get a quick turnover.

South got into a better rhythm in the 2nd quarter, and got a 24-21 halftime lead. They did this mainly with their outside shooting. But when South came out of the locker room to start the 2nd half, they had a hot hand and quickly grew their lead. And at the end of the 3rd quarter, it looked like they were going to run away with the game leading 41-33.

But North battled back and made a nice run – it was a 3 point game with 2:56 left on the clock. And Zack Edgin nailed a shot to make it a 2 point game with 18 seconds left. But North was forced to foul and South's JJ Utz hit 2 free throws to make it a 2 possession game. North turned over the ball when they got the ball back and South was able to run out the clock and escape with a win.

So North played against Shawnee in the consolation game the next night. And the game followed the same recipe. The teams played within the same range for the first half. The score was 30 all at halftime. Shawnee utilized the press a good bit of the night. They did get a few turnovers but it was used more to get North in a hurry up mode than to snag any turnovers. The Arrows used man to man defense in the half court in the first half.

But in the second half, Shawnee switched to a zone. Both North and Shawnee have dominate post players – North's Kurt Brinson, and Shawnee's Thomas Buell. Brinson was scoring well in the first half, so Shawnee used the zone to hem him in. Brinson would finish with 20 points, but only 6 of those points in the 2nd half. He would win the battle of the big men, as Buell would finish with 12 points – he got into foul trouble in the second half and spent a good deal of time on the bench.

In a repeat of the previous night, North had to fight back from a 4th quarter deficit. They were down 52-45 with about 3 and half minutes left in the game. But they closed the gap and with 22 seconds left it was a 2 point game. They fouled to put Buell on the foul line and he missed his foul shot. North had to inbound the ball with 1.8 seconds left in the game – and no time outs. Still they got a shot off – but it hit the rim and bounced away. Again North came close, but had to settle for 2nd best again.

Was coach Spitler frustrated with the loss? “Well yes, frustrated with the loss, but proud of the way they played in both games. Tonight against Shawnee, this was probably the best effort we got out of our guys. I don't feel bad at all, I think that Zach Edgin had a good tournament. Brian Stinson had his first varsity start as a freshman, he played well. Our defense was outstanding for the most part. We rebounded well – Shawnee is a good team, sure it hurts to lose by 2, but we were able to play with them. We have different people playing well on different nights – if we can get everyone clicking on the same night, we can turn this around. We have been playing some tough teams, and it doesn't get any easier next week.”

On Kurt Brinson, “Kurt Brinson was our work horse this tournament. He put up 25 the other night and 20 tonight. He did a great job from the free throw line. They tried to keep him from scoring, but he found a way each night.”

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dixie Drops Two

It was not a good week for the Hounds as they dropped 2 winnable games.  They first played undefeated Northridge who has been playing quality basketball as of late. Dixie actually lead at halftime but Northridge's 2nd half press wore them down.  Northridge gradually grew a lead and went on to win 66-58.  Preble Shawnee entered the week undefeated, but like Dixie they had lost on Tuesday.  So both teams came into Fridays game hoping to regain momentum.  The contest was an even matchup.  At one point in the 4th quarter, the game was knotted up 42-all and both teams had 7 fouls.  And when two equal teams meet, often times it is the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins.  Dixie committed critical turnovers about midway through the last quarter that Shawnee turned into points.  With the lead, the Arrows went into slowdown mode and solidified a 57-48 victory.  Cody Grubbs lead all scorers with 28 points.

Northridge features Drew Ogletree – a dominating post player who helped Northridge go undefeated in the SWBL and make a playoff run to the sweet 16 last season. He did not disappoint as he put up 26 points on the Hounds. Dixie lead 32-26 at the half, but the withering press of Northridge seemed to take a toll on the team and frustrated Dixie. Blake Miller lead scoring for Dixie with 23 and Cody Gubb had 12 points.

Shawnee also has a strong post player in Thomas Buell - who almost didn't play in the game. He rolled an ankle in the Carlisle game earlier in the week and was on crutches afterwards. He was given clearance to play just that day and lead Shawnee in scoring with 16 points. So it was the second game in a row where Dixie had to figure out a way to defend dominating post player.

The Shawnee – Dixie game was a dog fight most of the way. The teams were evenly matched and there were several ties and lead changed through most of the game. It was 10-10 at the end of the first quarter. Shawnee was able to get a slight edge at halftime time – 21-18. But in a precursor of things to come, Shawnee's lead came at the end of the half when Dixie got sloppy with their ball handling and gave Shawnee a couple of turnovers. Shawnee converted these early Christmas gifts into points.

The 3rd quarter ended in a 42 – all tie and it remained knotted for the first 3 minutes of the 4th quarter. Shawnee did a little half court trap and netted a turnover. Then they got another turnover and were up by 2 scores. Dixie countered with a press to get some turnovers of their own, but it backfired when Shawnee broke the press to perfection and scored an easy basket. It was downhill from there as Dixie tried to rally, but Shawnee held them off and expanded their lead for the victory.

“Defensively we were able to get back into it. But I thought we didn't have the zeal and energy that we needed,” stated Coach Williams after the Shawnee game, “It didn't seem like the same team that we have had the last couple of games. We were kind of flat. Shawnee did make some timely shots when they needed to. Cody Grubb played well, I would have liked for him to attack a little more against Buell. Defensively we need more out of him.”

“Against Northridge we played with more energy,” he continued, “but we don't have much of a bench and seemed to get tired in the last quarter. I like the way we played against Northridge, but we just didn't play to our potential tonight.”

Dixie played two teams that are at the top of the SWBL Buckeye division. Both times Dixie played with their opponent for most of the game, only to lose towards the end. The season is still young, so Dixie can make up ground and make a move up in the division, but the league losses do drop Dixie into the bottom half of the division. Dixie won't play any division opponents until after the start of the new year. Then they resume league play and will have a chance for redemption. Dixie next plays at Oakwood – always a tough venue for visiting teams.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

North Wins Buzzer Beater

“It feels better than I thought it would,” coolly remarked coach Spitler after logging his first win as varsity coach. North had to win in come from behind fashion on the road and then hit the game winning shot with about 1.2 seconds left in the game. North let Trail garner a 10 point lead in the 1st quarter, then had to play catchup the remainder of the game. After staying on the heels of Trail for most of the game. North's Zach Edgin threw an improbable inbound pass ¾ the length of the court to a waiting Gabe Brinson who caught the ball close to the basket and tossed it in for the victory 64-62 as time expired.

But first up this week for North was a game with Franklin a D2 school in the SWBL's big school division. North was able to play with the Wildcats for about a half. The score was tied at the end of the 1st quarter and with about a minute left, Franklin went on a run to capture the lead 36-28 at half time. But Franklin carried their momentum forward into the second half and had a 54-40 lead at the end of 3 quarters. North had a tough time against Franklin's ¾ court press. And Franklin would win 60-44.

“You can't win turning the ball over 30 times,” remarked coach Spitler after this game, “Turning the ball over was the difference in this game. There were a lot of careless passes. We kept it close a good bit of the game, and otherwise gave good effort – take away the turnovers and we were in that game.”

To say that North got to a slow start against Trail is an understatement. At one point the score was 18-3 before the team seemed to wake up and go a on little run to close out the 1st quarter. But coach Spitler adjusted the defense to a man to man and from there North began to slowly dig themselves out of the hole.

It was 31-26 at halftime. And the game became a rubber band game where North would make a run and draw close, but Trail would feel the heat and go on a run of their own to stretch their lead back out. But North kept the heat up and finally tied the score late in the 4th quarter. Then North hit the aforementioned shot to win the game at the buzzer while the gym erupted in pandemonium.

“It feels really good; it feels better than I thought it would,” stated coach Spitler after the victory, “We have 2 tough games coming up next week against Miami East and Brookville, so we needed this win now. I saw that East beat South 57-30, and South is a good team.”

He was asked about having 3 scorers in double figures, “Garret Woodyard -He had a good week this week. He scored well against Franklin and put up 15 against Trail. Gabe Brinson had 15 points too, and Kurt Brinson put up 23. They all played well tonight.”

North plays 2 tough teams back to back. Travelling to Miami East on the 18th and then hosting neighboring Brookville on the 19th. Then they will participate in the Shawnee Holiday tournament over Christmas break.  

Vikings Overwhelm Panthers

Entering the week, South knew that they had to be giant slayers. They played back to back games against teams that had a lot more size than the Panthers – who don't have any size themselves in the first place. They were able to handle the SWBL's Valley View team, that had two players 6'4” or better. But against their fellow CCC team, Miami East, South struggled to find a way to overcome the Vikings combination of height and shooting. South won against Valley View 48-39, but fell to the Vikings 57-30.

Against Valley View, South allowed the Spartans an early lead. Then the team seemed to gather itself and went on an impressive run that gave the Panthers the lead for the remainder of the game. Defense was key for the Panthers – they held the Spartans to 2 points for about a 13 minute stretch that ended the first half and began the second half.

“Our instensity was great,” remarked coach Augspurger, “They were a big team, but not as wide – we contained their post better, and didn't give them many open shots.”

Miami East was a team that lived up it's billing. The opening lineup was much taller position by positon than South. And another big difference was shooting. A neutral observer coming in off the street would have thought that Miami East was the home team and South was the visitor. The Vikings sank shots with ease, but South had problems finding the rim all night. Usually the home team has the higher shooting percentage while the visitors, who are on an unfamiliar court, are the ones whose shooting suffers.

The Vikings did play good defense, but South missed a lot of open shots. The Vikings pressed in the first quarter and played zone defense in the half court. South was down 13-5 at the end of the 1st quarter and they made a little run at the end of the 1st half, but were down 22-14 as the teams entered the 2nd half. Jacob Bassler kept South in the game in the 1st half - scoring 10 of his 12 points during this span. But the Vikings shut him almost completely down in the second half.

But South was cold shooting and with their height, the Vikings limited South to one shot on almost every possession. So the lead gradually lengthened. Then South when on a scoring drought to start the last quarter. Ryan Bassler finally scored for the Panthers but East ended any attempts at a rally despite South pressing to try and get some turnovers.

“That was the worst matchup in our league for us.” stated coach Augspurger afterwards, “We are team of 5' 11” kids and they are playing kids 6' 3” and taller. So it's a bad matchup for us. They are an experienced team and know how to play that zone – and know how to stretch it. But we had shots, but we were not making them. We didn't turn the ball over much; we didn't rebound so much. But in the end we were not making our 3 point shots.”

“The better team won tonight,” he continued, “I have coached against Miami East teams since about 2000 and this one of the best teams that I have seen from them. Barring injury, I would not be surprised to see them win 20 games.”

Next up for South are two critical away games against league opponets. Next Friday they play at Covington, then on Tuesday the 22nd they play at Bethel. Then during Christmas break they will play in Preble Shawnee's holiday tournament.   

Sunday, December 06, 2015

Hounds Overcome North

The Dixie Greyhounds won their first home game of the season, notching a victory over the Tri-County North Panthers. It was a fiercely contested battle between the two teams. Dixie had to over come a deficit that ran for the most of the first half and then fend off of a late comeback attempt by North for a 59-54 victory.

North had the early momentum. They shot well from the field against Dixie's opening man to man defense and rebounded well on the defensive side of the court, limiting Dixie to one shot per possession. But Dixie began adjusting their defense and shifted over to a zone defense. This seemed to slow the pace of North's scoring and Dixie began to chip away at North's lead.

North lead at the end of the first quarter 14-9, but Dixie made a nice run to close out the half. Dixie had been driving to the basket to score, so North shifted into a 2-3 zone to pack in players close to the basket. The Hounds made North pay, by connecting on their outside shots. North was finally forced to change to a man to man defense to pressure the guards. But Dixie, thanks in part to Joey Gengler's 3 - 3 point shots, tied the score at 23-all towards the end of the quarter and then marched into the locker room with a 30-28 lead.

In the second half, Dixie was able to extend their lead. Dixie shot well, while North seemed to have cooled off – particularly in the 4th quarter. At one point, Dixie held a double digit lead. North made a good run at the Hounds at the end of the game. But they missed some critical shots inside. Meanwhile, Devon Worley, who would score 20 points for Dixie, nailed 5 of 6 free throws to protect the lead.

Still North's new head coach, Dale Spitler, was pleased with the effort, “We played well in the first and second quarters. We rebounded well. Kurt Brinson gave us 25 points. We competed – but we missed a lot of close and easy shots at the end. We were pulling down offensive rebounds, but couldn't capitalize on them. But overall I has happy with their effort.

Coach Spitler has gotten the team playing good basketball in a short period of time. This is his first varsity head coach position and to make things even tougher – he was unable to do anything with the team this summer when teams are doing summer leagues. So he has had a short period of time to make his mark on this team. But the team does have good ball movement on offense and he has them playing hard nosed defense. Plus the Panthers did not fold when they faced an 11 point deficit, they battled back and had their chances at the end. So the team is heading in the right direction.

Dixie's coach Williams commented after the game, “I have to give credit to the kids for this win. We have 2 guys out with injury and we had 2 guys get into foul trouble tonight. The bench played well for us. Joey Gengler gave us a spark off the bench tonight – he hit some big 3 points shots in the second quarter. And Devon Worley gave us a good game, his best game for Dixie to date, and he is only a sophomore. His free throws were critical in closing the game out. But as a team we need to learn how to close games out – the competition only gets harder from here.”

Next week Dixie returns to the road playing at Waynesville on Friday night and at rival Brookville on Saturday night. North has a huge mountain to climb as they host Franklin on the 8th – even without Luke Kennard (now playing at Duke), they are a tough division 2 team. Then the Panthers open league play at neighboring National Trail high school on the 11th.

South Hits High Gear in Second Half

Twin Valley South sparred with National Trail for about 2 and half quarters. Neither team able to gain much of an edge, but after a time out – and good talking too by coach Augspurger, the team found high gear in the 3rd quarter and raced ahead for a decisive win. Senior Jacob Bassler sparked the rally with back to back 3's and South never looked back as they outscored Trail 32-6 the rest of the way for a 53-27 victory.

The teams played evenly in the first half and South had a slim 1 point lead at the break – 17-16. South was getting shots, but they just were not dropping. The score was tied at 21-all midway through the 3rd quarter when South made their move. South scored 3 - 3 point shots in a row to break the game open. That seemed to spark the team defensively as well as offensively. They smothered any attempt at a comeback by Trail.

Coach Augpurger later stated that the teams defensive intensity was sparked at that time too. That fed into a rally as South's defense got turnovers and translated those into points on the offensive end of the court. Trail could not figure out South and were frustrated offensively.

Coach Augspurger was asked about Jacob Bassler, “He has gotten off to a good start this season. He has been the scorer that we thought that he would be, his 3 point shots in the 3rd quarter are what really sparked the rally. We just took off from there.”

This next week South will have to be giant slayers. Both of the teams that they play will have height. While South doesn't have much height at all. But coach Augspurger stated that the team prepared for the season by scrimmaging tall teams in preparation for weeks like this where they play teams with size.

“Valley View has 2 kids who are around 6' 4” or so and they are good. One plays mainly in the post, while the other can shoot from outside,” stated coach Augspurger, “and Miami East, well they are the tallest team in the league. They are always tall, but this year they even more size and experience. Both they and Tri-Village are preseason favorites to be at the top of the conference. So if we want to have a shot at a league championship, that game is going to be a must win for us.”

South will host Valley View on Tuesday and then Miami East on Friday.

Scoring for South: Ryan Bassler 3, Cottingim 9, Myers 4, Jacob Bassler 15, Crosier 6, Ehler 4, Utz 3, Lovely 9.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

South Runner Up in Tip Off Tournament

South won their opening round game but ran into a tough Stivers Tiger basketball team and although South briefly lead, Stivers would fend off South to be tournament champs. South's defense was stalwart against Dixie in the first round, but they had a rough time figuring out the Tiger offense that could score both outside and inside. Plus the Tigers had 6'7” Akron University signee, Isiah Williams, who is athletic enough to defend a point guard on the perimeter and then turn around and slam dunk the ball in the paint.

Against Dixie, South sparred with the Hounds for about a quarter and half and were actually behind in the 2nd quarter. Coach Augspurger took a time out and level set the team. They ground out a half time lead and then went into high gear in the second half. Outscoring the Hounds by 19 points in the half en route to a convincing 52-30 win to kick off their winter campaign.

But Stivers was a tougher nut to crack. South opened with a zone like defense, but Stivers was able to hit shots from the perimeter. Forcing coach Augspurger to switch to a man to man defense to put pressure on the wings. Stivers would stay in a man to man defense the entire game, occasionally pressing and doing some trapping in the half court.

Stivers looked to be running away with the game in the 1st quarter. They had a decent 19-9 lead due to hot shooting and a quick defense. But South showed that they came to play. Ryan Bassler opened the 2nd quarter with a pair of treys to put South right back in the game. That sparked an 11-0 run by the Panthers. And about midway through the quarter South briefly held the lead 20-19. But Stivers had a run of their own to close out the half with a 27-22 lead.

After halftime South again tried their zone defense, but Stivers made them pay for it by striking from the perimeter. This forced South back to a man to man defense. Stivers grew their lead to 10 points by the end of the quarter.

Stivers went into a slowdown to start the 4th quarter. South was trying hard on defense and this resulted in fouls. South quickly gave up bonus and then double bonus. But Stivers hit their free shots from the stripe. South made a late charge and a Jacob Bassler 3 put South within 7 points of Stivers, but that was as close as South would come as Stivers would eventually win 55-43.

“I had zero fault with their effort, they tried to do what we talked about on defense, but to win a game when you are an underdog, you have to hit shots,” stated coach Augspurger afterwards, “We made a couple of good runs, Ryan Bassler gave us some spark off the bench, we were right there but we just didn't shoot well.”

He went on, “I thought we defended Isiah Williams pretty well for the most part. We did not panic against their pressure – but we also did not make them pay. Pressure can effect the momentum and rhythm of the game. We allowed it to distort our offense. Ideally, you break their pressure and get easy layups and that did not happen.”

Finally, “JJ Utz and Jacob Bassler provided good leadership for us this weekend. We had 6 guys on the floor that this was their first varsity basketball game. So when you consider that we did pretty well. We are going to have growing pains still, but we will learn from this game.”

Scoring for South: Ryan Bassler 6, Jared Cottingim 2, Mike Meyer 6, Jacob Bassler 15, Winston Crossier 3, JJ Utz 10, Travis Lovely 1.

Next Friday South will host league foe, National Trail.

Dixie 1-1 Opening weekend

Dixie opened their weekend at the Twin Valley South Tip Off tournament. Their first round game was against host Twin Valley South. After gaining a lead in the 2nd quarter, Dixie turned the ball over and seemed to be unable to find an answer for South's offense the remainder of the game. South zoomed away after halftime and defeated Dixie 52-30. But in the consolation game the next night, Dixie leveled themselves against Eaton 65-52 to balance their record at 1 win and 1 loss.

Coach Williams would later state that you can't win a game with 26 turnovers and that was the difference maker in the two games. Dixie took care of the ball against Eaton, but allowed South to capitalize on Dixie turnovers and get too many easy scores. Dixie seemed to wilt in the second half of this game – getting outscored 33-14. The team played more consistently against Eaton. But still had a lapse that almost allowed Eaton to make a late run.

Eaton played in a man to man defense that they stayed in the entire night. Mixing in some full court pressing and a little half court trapping. Dixie countered with a 1-4 offense set and also a motion offense. Dixie stayed in a zone defense all evening. Dixie defensive rebounding was decent and didn't allow many 2nd chance opportunities for Eaton.

Dixie pushed the ball hard on turnovers off of Eaton's offense. But particularly in the 1st half, Dixie was slow to get back on defense and allowed Eaton some easy layups. Coach Williams took a time out in the first half and loudly lambasted the team to stop jogging back on defense but rather to sprint back. This took away easy baskets from Eaton and their half court offense had a rough time scoring on Dixie – not really being able to connect on outside shots.

Dixie got an early lead, but some late 1st quarter turnovers allowed Eaton to close to within a point. The second quarter was a duel with Eaton briefly leading, but just before halftime with the score knotted 27 all, Devon Worley hit a couple of shots to give Dixie a 32-28 lead.

Dixie came out on fire after halftime. They shot well from the floor and in no time they had a 10 point lead. Eaton took a time out to adjust but Dixie extended their lead to 49-35 at quarters end. Eaton pressed hard in the last quarter in a bid to make up ground. But Dixie was able to get some easy baskets and grew their lead to 22 points. Dixie allowed Eaton to creep back into the game in the last half of the quarter. Dixie had a scoring drought where they did not score for almost 4 minutes. But Eaton had to resort to fouling late in the game and Dixie was able to pad their lead by hitting their foul shots.

Dixie would win 65-52 and would score 3 players in double figures. Cody Grubb(19), Devon Worley(15), and Blake Miller(13). Also scoring for Dixie were Austin Simpson 1, Joey Gengler 8, Dakota Grise 6, Seth Grubb 2. Devon Worley also made the all tournament team.

“We executed well on offense, we defended, there is room to get better – but it's only the second game of the season,” said coach Williams after the game, “We need to limit our turnovers and we can really be good if we can defend and rebound. Those will our points of emphasis this week. If we can limit our turnovers we will be in every basketball game.”

He continued, “I talked to them about sprinting back to help. They were beating us down the court and getting easy baskets. That was one key adjustment. We need Grubb, Worley, and Miller to score in double figures every night for us to be successful. But we had role players that came in and made us successful too, Dakota Grise rebounded well for us for instance.”

Next Friday, Dixie plays host to TCN.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

South Ends Weekend With a Win

South got their first win of the season under new head coach Jeff Case on Saturday night against Northridge. The team made it closer than it should have been by relaxing in the 4th quarter and allowing Northridge to make a run and close to within 2 scores, but South held off the Polar Bears late charge and left with a 45-37 win to even up their record at 1-1.

The previous night South opened their season against the Carlisle Indians. And after playing with Carlisle for the first half, Carlisle took control of the game in the second half and ran away with the game 56-26. It was a disappointing way for South to start their season, and so they came into Saturdays game hungry for a win.

The first quarter was all South as they created points from turnovers on the defensive end of the court. South trapped a little in the half court and also used a zone defense. South pushed the ball hard on steals, but they were able to score in their half court offense as well. Northridge used a variety of defenses on the night – using man to man and several zone defenses to try and slow down South scoring. But none of them were effective in the first half as South had a 15-1 lead in the first quarter and a respectable 28-10 lead at the half.

Northridge did adjust and swapped out point guards. And they began to take care of the ball better, so South got fewer points from turnovers in the second half, slowing their pace of scoring. The two teams played evenly in the 3rd quarter. Still South had a commanding 37-16 lead entering the last quarter.

South seemed to relax at this point, thinking the game was in hand. Sloppy ball handling and lax defense on the perimeter allowed Northridge to get turnovers on defense and connect on 3 pointers on offense. Suddenly it was a 43-37 game and Northridge was 2 shots away from tying the ball game. As the clock was winding down, Northridge began to foul – but South was missing the front end of 1 and 1's. Finally Abby Creech hit critical 2 foul shots to put the game out of reach and South held off Northridge's final charge for the win.

Coach Case had this to say after the game, “We had a lot of energy yesterday and we competed with Carlisle for about a half. We got out of our game plan and tried to comeback, but fell short. Tonight we got that same energy for all 4 quarters. They followed the game plan well – attacked the basket and were offensive minded. I thought in the 4th quarter we played not to lose instead of playing to win – but we will work on that. But this is all a process; it was good for the girls to get the win.”

Next he was asked about changing the program, “This is all a learning process. Teaching them how to lose and bounce back. How to go for a win. How to watch film, turn that into drills and improve for the next game. It isn't going to happen overnight. But they are buying into the system and I am proud of their effort tonight.”

Coach Case comes to South with about 20 years of coaching experience locally. He took a year off last year for family reasons and is back as a head coach. He is now refreshed and rejuvenated. He mentioned Rick Hickman and Steve Fisher as coaching mentors for him professionally.

South plays at Miami East on the 24th for their 1st conference game. Then they play at Dixie on the 30th.