Tuesday, September 16, 2014

North Win/Dixie Loss

Tri-County North proved that they could be road warriors, easily defeating the Arcanum Trojans, 40-13. It was a matchup that was expected to be closer, but the North Panthers exploded for 22 points in the second quarter and the game was not close after that.  Most of the damage was done by the running game as North would pound out 294 yards on the ground.  And in typical fashion, North’s defense swarmed to the ball and Arcanum had a tough time being consistent on offense. Next week North will be playing Mississinewa Valley in Lewisburg.

Stat’s for North: Rushing – Colton Booth 81; Garrison Woodyard 59; Wesley Morrow 12; Dustin Green 58; Kody Cordes 84. Passing - Colton Booth 2/9. Leading the team in tackles were Jordan Overcash, Blake Lawson, Austin Elmore who all had 7.  Austin Johnson and Colton Booth had 6.

Dixie on the other hand played against Brookville a team from SWBL’s big school division.  Brookville dominated the game while amassing 49 points.   Held scoreless at halftime,  Dixie did score in the third quarter to evade the shutout.  Clayton Washington broke loose and ran for over 60 yards on the score. 

Second Half is South's Half

National Trail matched up with TVS in a critical game where both teams had questions to answer.  South had an extra week off due to Bradford cancelling their varsity schedule.  So would this be like another week one game or would they be able to keep their momentum from their opening win.  Trail is coming off of an 0-2 start and needed to get a win to have any kind of shot at a league title. They also needed to prove that last season’s 8-2 record and playoff appearance was not an aberration.
But this game would turn out to be a tale of two halves as Trail seemed to do no wrong in the first half and South would have to battle their way back from a two touchdown deficit.  And in a way South would have to battle themselves as costly penalties cost them a touchdown – Brandon Simpson took a kickoff to the house, only to have it called back; and defensive penalties kept National Trail drives alive. 

Trail scored on their 3 first half possessions.  Their punter did not see the field in the first half. They used their spread offense and  dinked and dunked short passes, mixed with the occasional run to keep the ball moving.   South’s game plan involved keeping the ball on the ground and grinding out yardage. The clock eating drives were designed to keep Trail’s quarterback, Garret Griffen, on the sidelines.  South maybe threw the ball a handful of times the entire night.

Trail’s first half scores were from a quarterback keeper at the one yard line and two long pass plays. South’s Anthony Augspurger responded with a 2 yard touchdown carry.  South squandered another opportunity right before the half.  They had driven down to the Trail 23 and from there they threw two passes on 3rd and 4th down, but didn’t complete either of them.  So at halftime Trail had a comfortable 21-7 lead.

Woody Hayes would have been proud of the Panthers in the second half. The offensive line surged back the Trail defenders and the backs ran downhill – hitting their holes hard.  They received the ball to start the second half and even though they had to convert several 4th downs,  Joe Webb was able to complete the 60 yard drive with a 7 yard TD run to pull South to within a touchdown.   When Trail got the ball back, it looked like they would march the ball right back down the field and make it a two touchdown lead once again. But on 4th and 2 in the redzone, Augspurger drove Griffen out of bounds and ended that drive.

So South got the ball on their own 5 yard line. And again it was another grind it out drive where they drove the length of the field.  Augspurger would tie the ball game with a 9 yard carry. On Trail’s next possession there was a controversial play where Trail threw a long pass on 4th down. There was contact between the receiver and the defender – but no flag was thrown. The Trail coach was livid and stormed out onto the field. Not sure what was said – but it was enough for the referee to throw a flag. So the Panthers were gifted an extra 15 yards.

The ensuing South drive went about 50 yards, starting at the 5 minute mark of the 4th quarter. And both Wes Cole and Webb had some good carries to move the ball close to the redzone, but it was Augspurger who finished with a carry of about 20 hard earned yards to given the Panthers the lead at about the 2 minute mark.

Trail went to work and moved the ball to midfield, thanks in part to a roughing the passer call. But Trails hopes of a comeback ended on the next snap.  The ball went high and to the side, so Griffen mishandled it and then got control of the ball and tried to make a play.  He threw to the middle where who else but Augspurger was waiting.  He intercepted the ball and that put an end to Trails chances. With a little over a minute left South was able to run out the clock for a 28-21 come from behind win.

Coach Cates commented after the game, “It was part of our strategy to use our offense to run 16 to 18 play drives wear them down, and keep their offense off the field.  The first half everything went their way and they took advantage of that.   We really didn’t make that many half time adjustments.  We got more pressure on their quarterback and made adjustments to coverage. But I was really proud of our senior class they went into halftime saying come on guys, we can win this game – and they showed how resilient that they can be. And I thought that our conditioning really showed in the 4th quarter. We really wore them down.  When you win the line of scrimmage you typically win games. “
The week off, “It is hard to say if it was a factor or not. We did get to a slow start, it was not a fast start like we did against Dixie. But we do have to get out early, that is something that we are trying to change from last year.  But as far as handling adversity – that is the best that I have seen kids handle adversity since I have been here.  We don’t have a tradition of playing winning football and it was great to see these kids bounce back after halftime.

Next week South hosts Ansonia, “I have tremendous respect for coach Hoening.  They hide the ball well and use misdirection. They will run the ball and lull your defensive backs to sleep, then slip in the play action pass.  They are disciplined on defense.   We have to remember our keys on defense and win the line of scrimmage on offense to be successful.   Coach Hoening does extremely well with the kids he has, and he will get the most of them. “

Tuesday, September 09, 2014

North Routs Ansonia

Tri-County North scored 38 first half points and that was all that they would need as they put on the cruise control in the second half and coasted to a 38-0 victory.  North used their running game  effectively racking up huge gains both on the edge and in the middle.   The defense swarmed to the ball and generated turnovers.  North dominated all facets of the game as their special teams likewise performed exceptionally well.

The defense gang tackled Ansonia and kept the Ansonia ball carriers from generating very much yardage.  When Ansonia tried to create some offense with the pass they did hit their receivers a few times for yardage.  But just when they started to move the ball, turnovers stopped their drives.  On a pass play the ball was thrown backwards and went to the ground.  Austin Elmore alertly scooped up the ball and ran about 40 yards for a touchdown.  Next series an Ansonia fumble was pounced on by North and that too became a touchdown a few plays later.  So North made the most of Ansonia mistakes.  North’s Blake Lawson and Kyle Miller both got a quarterback sack.

Special teams also shone in this game – Ansonia started most of their drives in the vicinity of the 20 yard line.  Deep kick’s and good coverage kept Ansonia from getting decent returns.  Although North did not punt much, the times they punted were deep into Ansonia territory.  And North’s Trey Summers easily made a 32 yard field goal , so that is another weapon that the North team can utilize down the road.
Offensive scoring for TCN: Dustin Green 2 TD’s (10 and 55 yard runs), Cody Cordez 11 yard run, Austin Johnson 19 yard pass.

Next week North plays at Arcanum a team that is 1-1.  Their win was against the SWBL’s Northridge and their loss was against Covington.  But that loss was a closely contested game where the Bucc’s escaped with a 14-7 victory.  So this should be a close game for the Panthers.  The other Panther team resumes varsity play after a week off.  They will likewise be road warriors, South will be making a trip to play a 0-2 National Trail squad that is coming off of a 48-32 loss to Miami East.  Trail also scored a lot of points in their first week loss to Shawnee, but their defense is pourous.  So look for a lot of points to be scored at Trail on Friday night. 

Hounds Upended by Ross

An overmatched Dixie team fell to Hamilton Ross 57-13.  Division 6 Dixie simply gave up to much size to Division 3 Ross.  The Ross line was much larger and more physical so it was a simple matter to run the ball almost at will against a smaller Dixie squad.  Still Dixie acquitted themselves somewhat in the second half by airing out the ball and scoring 3 touchdowns after being shutout in the first half. But Dixie has a tough schedule.  9 out their 10 games are against schools that are at least one division larger.  So almost every Friday night they are going against teams that are bigger and deeper.

Dixie’s running game was pretty much non-existent.  They would end up with negative yardage for the night.  And so with quarterback Cody Grubb out with injury, it fell upon the arm of Ethan Arnett to generate some offense.    He responded well in the second half with two touchdowns, Arnett threw for 176 yards and for the night, Dixie would have a respectable 227 yards in the air. One of those touchdowns was a 72 yard strike. Clayton Washington would throw the third Dixie touchdown – a 10 yarder to cap a drive. Shane Hale, Justin Funkhouser,and Nick Adams all scored as receivers for Dixie.  Zach Rader lead the defense in tackles.

Coach Watson, “We were shutout at halftime by a bigger Ross team.  But I challenged the kids at half time to play hard and to play with pride.  To win at the one one game at your position. They responded, we did a better job on defense and our varsity scored two touchdowns – one was a 72 yard pass play.  Grubb was out with a concussion and Arnett stepped up and did well for us.  Although we lost, the yards that we got passing is the most that we have had since I have been here. “

Brookville, “Coach Hetrich has done a great job with their program.  We know that they are going to run the ball and that we are going to have to stop that. They run a disciplined offense and we will have our hands full. We will have Grub back for the Brookville game and we will move him around in our offense.  He is a good athlete and can play running back or receiver.  We have 5 good receivers so we will have plenty of options.“

Tuesday, September 02, 2014

Big Plays Put North on Top

Tri-County North earned a hard fought victory over Brookville.  There were a few miscues on the way and Brookville had an early lead over North thanks to a muffed punt.  But North was able to get on track and fight their way back on top for a win.  One big question was who would handle the quarterback duties.  The previous 4 years Austin Hutchins had the helm.  Quarterbacking for the Panthers for the first time was Colton Booth who took the reins and calmly took the team to victory.

After giving up the early touchdown to Brookville on a 33 yard pass, North needed to answer.  And when they got the ball in their hands for the second time North would score – it was set up in part by a carry by fullback Dustin Green, where he burst through the middle, found some open space and ran for 47 yards.  Booth would then score on a 10 yard run and a Trey Summers kick tied the game at 7 all.

 In the second quarter another big play set up a score for North.  Reciever Kody Cordes caught a Booth pass on a screen play and scampered 45 yards before being pushed out of bounds to put the ball on the Blue Devil 2 yard line.  Booth called his own number and a quarterback sneak put North on top 14-7 after a Summers kick.

The third quarter was pretty much a dog fight with neither team seeming to gain an advantage.  North was able to get some insurance in the 4th quarter.  Austin Johnson caught a screen pass on a critical 3rd and 10 play  and got the first down and then some, gaining 37 yards and giving the North sidelines a boost.  The crowd came alive as once again a big play by North put them into a position to score.  Kody Cordes took a toss 36 yards and this gave North their final margin of victory.  Brookville went into a passing mode on their last few possessions, but although North gave away yardage underneath, they did not get beat deep and more importantly kept Brookville out of the endzone.  When the clock wound down, North had a 21-7 win.

Coach Derringer, “I thought our defense did a really nice job of knocking the ball down in the fourth quarter and didn’t give up anything deep.  It was a nice victory for the Panthers, but we did make an awful lot of mistakes.  We had two costly fumbles.  There were a couple of breakdowns on defense but they played very, very well.  Brookville was held to 79 yards rushing and threw for 109 yards – but a lot of that was from their short passing game in the 4th quarter.”

Reilly Libinski: “Our happiness with the victory is tempered by our sadness at losing Reilly Linbinski.  He was a senior offensive and defensive lineman and on the first play from scrimmage he broke his leg.  Last year he had over 20 tackles for negative yardage.  He is going to miss most of the rest of the season, we may get him back towards the end.”

Colton Booth: “I know that folks were worried how we would do with Hutchins graduating and a new player at quarterback. He was 6 for 10 passing for 114 yards.  He didn’t throw any interceptions, he made some good decisions.  It was a big question mark for people looking at North this year, but his receiver selection and progressions were great for his first varsity game at quarterback. And our offensive line did a great job against Brookville – that certainly helped.”

This was the first time in school history that North had back to back wins against Brookville.  Overall the teams are 4-3 against each other with Brookville having the edge.

Next week North plays at home against Ansonia, “They were beat last week at Welcome Stadium by Belmont.  They will try to play a power football game where they control the ball.   They will try to control the clock and are happy to grind out 3-4 yards a carry. Their defense - we expect them to load up the box and take away the run.”

Stats for North:  Rushing - Booth 11 carries 30 yds; Garrett Woodyard 6 carries 18 yds; Dustin Green 11 carries 74 yds; Kody Cordes 9 carries 54 yds. Receiving – Logan Elmore 1/7; Austin Johnson 4/56; Kody Cordy 2/59. Top Tacklers – Booth 9;Colton Overholtz 7; Logan Elmore 7; Woodyard 7; Johnson 6; Summers 6.

TVS Over Dixie

South used a solid running game, a stingy defense, and field position to build on a 14-0 halftime lead and defeat the Dixie Greyhounds to start the 2014 season.  South would lead the game the entire way and although Dixie put together some decent drives, the Greyhounds would not find paydirt until the end of the 4th quarter.

South’s offense got most of their yardage in-between the tackles.  They opened in a wishbone offense and shifted to a spread offense when needed to keep Dixie off-balance.  South did pass when needed and although there were a few dropped balls, Wes Cole was able to hit his mark when called upon to do so.   The defense bent, but did not break – making several key plays.  There were a couple of critical 4th down plays in Panther territory where the defense stood their ground and made Dixie give up the ball on downs.  Another drive was ended with South’s Jordan Peterson intercepting the ball on the 1 yard line, he would snag another interception in the second half.

Dixie stayed in their spread offense and mixed the run and pass.  Quarterback Cody Grubb both ran and passed well – accounting for several Dixie first downs.  Clayton Washington was able to peel off some good runs against a hard hitting South defense.   Nick Adams was able to pick off a Cole pass in Dixie territory to end a South drive.  But the defense had a tough time thwarting the South ground game.

South took their opening drive into the endzone.  Anthony Augspurger, who was a workhorse in the backfield all night, got several first down carries and took it to the house about midway through the first quarter.  Wes Cole connected with Josh Cottingim on a critical 4th and 5 play to keep the opening drive alive.  Dixie tried to answer and despite converting several 4th downs they finally fell short at the South 11.   South’s Sammy Shockey had a potential score called back due to an illegal block, he ran again and got the ball to the Dixie 9.  And a few plays later Joe Webb  finished the deal and scored.

South had a most curious drive late in the second quarter.  Already up by 2 scores, they seemed poised to make it a 3 score ball game when Shockey returned a Dixie punt back to the 25 yard line. But the Panthers proceeded to take off their spikes and begin shooting off their toes.  They proceeded to march backward as they got not one, not two, but three penalties on successive plays.  They were backed up to midfield.  I seem to recall at one point that it was 3rd and 43.  Coach Cates took a time out to get the team refocused.  Amazingly, the team fell just short of a first down and gave up the ball on downs at the Dixie 9.

Field position helped to give South a short field to work with in the second half.  Place kicker JJ Utz and good coverage by special teams made Dixie start their drives deep in their own territory, their own 20, 25, and 32.  And South’s defense must have adjusted at halftime as Dixie was held to several 3 and out’s on offense.  South was starting their second half drives at midfield and drove the ball home.  Wes Cole started scoring in the second half with a 25 yard carry. Sammy Shockey finished another drive with a 1 yard TD run.   Anthony Augspurger, who began South’s scoring, finished it with the last South TD – a 5 yard run.  Dixie’s Clayton Washington put Dixie on the scoreboard in the 4th quarter with a 4 yard run.  South won the field with a 35-6 victory.

Dixie’s coach Watson commented after the game, “We knew going in that we would be outsized and not as deep as South. They did a good job of running the ball – we had a tough time stopping them.  On top of that we had some key injuries and that exposed our lack of depth. But South did execute their game plan well.   Clayton Washington carried for about 75 yards and Cody Grubb passed for about 80 yards and carried for over 30 yards.   We had to gang tackle a lot on defense, but Isiah Pritchard and Zach Rader led the defense in tackles.” Next week Dixie faces Hamilton Ross, “They are a big team with an all senior line – one of them has committed to Indiana.  So I am sure they saw what South did and are going to try and pound the ball right at us – we have to prepare our team to stop them.”

South’s coach Cate was pleased with the team’s performance, “I thought we came out ready to go from the first play.  That is a huge improvement from last year – we seemed to be slow starters.  We came out playing hard and fast and smart.  That is the best that our offensive line has looked.  I was really proud of our effort we had a lot of guys flying around on defense and on offense we were pretty sound on executing our plays.  We had a lot of penalties and in a close game that can be the difference – so that is something that we have to fix.”

He continued, “We spent a lot of time in the offseason working on special teams.  JJ Utz came out for the team this season, and he does a really nice job of kicking the ball.  He can kick it high and put it where we want it.  We have some key players that we can trust on special teams and it is making a difference.    I was really happy with our field position for this game.”

Finally, “But overall I was really impressed with the way that we played on Friday night.  But it’s just one game, we have to focus on one game at a time.   It is too bad that Bradford is not playing us this year, we really would like to keep our momentum going.” National Trail in two weeks, “The kids are really excited about playing them.  Last year we just didn’t get it done.  They did a nice job and had a nice team.  The seniors are really wanting to have another shot at them.  We have two weeks to prepare against their spread offense that has proven to be tough to defend. “

Stats for TVS: Anthony Augspurger 18 carries 164 yards;  Sammy Shocky 6 carries for 72 yards; Wes Cole 6 carries 66 yards;  Joe Webb 9 carries 31 yards;  Leading Tacklers: Jacob Bassler 10;Gunter Lautensleger 7; Anthony Augspurger 7; Todd French 6.

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Twin Valley South ended their preseason by scoring 5 TD's to Preble Shawnee's 1 in the first 3 quarters of their scrimmage.  They scored both on the ground and in the air.  Their offense was flexible.  When the Shawnee adjusted and began to stop the run, South was able to take to the air and still move the ball.  Most notable was a 70 yard TD pass and they ran a two minute minute drill at the end of the half and scored with 14 seconds left on the clock.

The defense was of a bend but don't break variety. They had some good stops - a sack or two, and two interceptions.  Seems like they pulled in at least a fumble, maybe two. So they are capable of making a big play on the defensive side of the ball. The team was hitting hard, there were several stoppages of play for downed Arrow players. The defense did give up some yardage, but although Shawnee made it inside the 20 two other times,  South denied them another score.   Their last stand was their toughest when they held on 4th and 4 at the goal.

Sure there were some miscues but overall the team looked solid over the course of the scrimmage. Both TVS and Shawnee centers had some bad snaps with the damp conditions.  And even when they began subbing in the 3rd quarter, the team did not seem to lose a beat on either offense or defense.  So there is some depth to the team as well.

I think that most everyone that follows the CCC knows by now that Bradford will not have a varsity schedule.  South will open away against Dixie next Friday, but the following weeks game would have been against Bradford.  I don't see how with the short notice that South can find a opponent for week two.  So there very could be a hole in schedule.  Too bad that the new bye week would not have occurred in midseason to better give the team a breather and a chance to heal up those little knicks and bruises that players accumulate over the course of a season.

Who will win the CCC this year? Covington will be young team this season with but 4 seniors.  But they are Covington and have been dominating the league. So until someone can knock them off, they have to favored at the top of the CCC. Likewise Miami East has been a top tier team as well, so look for them to be in contention.  North had a strong season until they were beat by Covington in a hard fought game.  Then they seemed to fade at the tail end of the season.  Despite losing a 4 year starter at quarterback, North will shake that off, they has been consistently in the mix as well.  They are reloading with a lot of talent coming back. Trail is a Johnny come lately - but acquitted themselves well with some victories that makes them worthy of mention as a contender.  

Could South be in the mix?  They are not a machine - not yet, once they are consistent on both of the ball then they can start to look at being in the top half of the league.  But the enthusiasm and talent are there to do better than last years .500 record.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

South three way scrimmage

Twin Valley South hosted a three way scrimmage on Saturday.  The other teams in this scrimmage were Blanchester and Middletown Madison. Hard to say if any team was more dominating than the rest.  If I had to pick a winner it might have been Blanchester, but not by much.  They did well in the early going, but seemed to fade - either the other two teams adjusted, or they ran out of gas. But they seemed to have the best balance offensively and defensively.

Blanchester did well with the triple option and later in the scrimmage when they aired it out a little they had some success although South had a pick against them. Madison's offense had some decent gains at times, but were inconsistent. I like their tailback, he has some quickness and can find a gap and explode thru it.  I also like their defense versus the run - they really seemed to swarm to the ball.  At the end of any given play there was a host of Mohawks around the ball carrier.

South used their familiar spread offense and Cole did a good job of getting the ball to the receivers. They had some miscues on offense which stalled some drives.  Have to get the ball to the quarterback properly every time.  However, I was impressed with the wishbone that they used in one series.  I thought that Blanchester had a decent defense, but South just jammed it down their throats when they ran the wishbone during a set of 10 plays and ran into the endzone.  Augspurger had several decent runs during this drive including one where it seemed like half the Blanchester team hit, but bounced off him during an 8 yard run for a hard earned first down.

The South pass defense wasn't bad - 2 interceptions while I was there and I don't recall a blown coverage.  The run defense was spotty.  They would make some decent plays - even tackles for loss, but give up a big yardage running play and then be back on their heels.  If they can nail their open field tackles that will go along way to solidifying their defense.  Saw several players make initial contact, but allow the ball carrier to slip away.

Nice to see South with some depth again this season.  They rotated a lot of players in and out, particularly the linemen. In small school football being able to give players a breather helps give a team an edge versus teams that have to play iron man football where players have to go both ways and never leave the field.

I was not there for the entire scrimmage, so I might have missed a little - but this is the flavor that I got from the three teams.

Sunday, June 08, 2014

Around the track - Regional Meets

Athletes from surrounding schools participated in the regional track meets held in Troy and Dayton’s Welcome stadium this week.  The top 4 finishers in their respective events qualified for the state meet and some athletes even qualified in 2 events.  Kate Deaton from National Trail makes another trip to state qualifying in both the shot and discus – winning the discus with a throw of 132’3”.  Michelle McKinney of Eaton qualified in the 800m run and the 3200m run.  Aaron Deaton of TVS qualified in the shotput and scored in the discus.  Preble Shawnee’s Elise Walker and Josh Willoughby both qualified in the high jump.  Seth Reynolds of Eaton qualified in the pole vault.

Although he did not make it to state this year, Isiah Pritchard scored in 3 regional events – 100m dash, 4X100m relay, and the long jump.  Something tells me the disappointed sophomore will crack the top 4 in next years regionals.  Other athletes that scored in the regionals were Tristen Sizemore TVS – shot; Megan McClain TCN - high jump;  Andrea Hunt Trail -Long Jump;  Nick Adams Dixie - Pole Vault; Seth Wright Eaton – Pole Vault;  Dixie 4X100m relay Brandon Parker, Seth Benner, Clayton Washington,  Isaiah Pritchard; TVS 4X800 relay featuring 2 sets of sisters - Madison Wright, Megan Wright, Lindsey Creech, Abbey Creech.

“It’s been a good meet for us, we ran some good times and have one state qualifier in Aaron Deaton,” stated TVS coach Faber after the meet. “There have been no disappointments – they all performed up to expectations.  Looking back on the season, I am happy with how we did at the Durkle meet and being runners up at district and league meets – those were highlights for us. We are a young group and most everyone is coming back next year.  We had a nice group of seniors this year that helped fill some gaps for us during the season.  We will miss them,but being a young team we will come back even stronger next year.” 

“The regional meet went alright for us.” Stated TVS girls coach Mabry, “Our 4X800m team did fantastic; they ran a personal best time.  Their previous best time was like a 10:19 and they shattered that - running a 9:54.  Six was the word in this track meet. The 4X800m team placed 6th and Madison Wright placed 6th in the 800m and Megan Wright placed 6th in the mile.   The distance runners did well, even Abbey Creech had a personal best in the 800m run.  We are talking a lot of young runners – even the relay team has 3 freshman.  It has been a great experience for them, I think we can only get better from here.”

On the season, “Of course the highpoint was winning the district title for the first time since 2005. That and being league runners up.  But I think almost every meet with a couple of exceptions we were competitive in.  We started with a young team and they learned what it took to compete at the high school level and got better as the season went on.  We had just a few seniors, out of 23 girls - 12 of them got their first year varsity letters at the awards banquet.  Helen Holman has been a leader for us she had a decent meet at the districts. Alyssa Wysong is a sprinter and she has been valuable for us. It helps to have something there who is competent and can show the young runners the ropes.”

It is worth noting that also at the meet was a ‘blade runner’.  A young female athlete had one leg amputated just below the knee and had a prosthesis fashioned after the ones that famous (infamous?) Oscar Pistorius used in the olympics.  That is her leg had a single thin steel blade attached.  So I am glad that technology has changed from years ago where the only option was to have a clunky leg attached that was difficult to drag around.  It is amazing to me that that an athlete can compete at the regional level having lost a portion of their leg. Being able to run competitively with an artificial leg shows how science and technology is being used to help people have better lives.  And it takes courage to be different, particularly when you are a teenager – she got her share of stares.  So a salute to the strong young lady who runs through adversity.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Tri-County North - League Champs

Tri County North wrapped up their regular season as CCC league champs this week.  Add to that the fact that they were undefeated in league play. But it was not an easy road as North had 4 one run wins in their last 5 games.  Their last game of the season, they did win by a large margin, but it wasn’t until the last inning that they piled on the runs.  They were supposed to play Madison (non-league) on Saturday, but that game was rained out and with the state tournament starting on Monday, it is unlikely that the game will be played.

The last two league foes this week were Arcanum and Bradford.  Arcanum fought hard before going down 2-1.  Austin Hutchins was the winning pitching in this outing with 7 strike outs.  At the plate Justin Elmore was 2-2 with a RBI, Kyle Edgin was 1-2 with a double and RBI, Kodey Hawthorne was 2-3
Coach Gray commented on the game, “They came out and played us very well. Both teams played hard offensively and defensively.  The pitchers came out and threw good games.  We just ended up on top – the kids stepped up when they needed to and we got some timely hits.  Arcanum always plays us good and right now we have a big X on our backs because we are undefeated and everyone wants to make sure that doesn’t happen.”

In their league finale, North faced Bradford who features Brandon Wysong a strong senior pitcher who has been looked at by a few colleges.  However North was able to get on the fast ball thrower early and score 3 runs in the first inning.  When Bradford answered back with 3 runs of their own the third, North switched pitchers to Nick Gray who finished out the game.  Hunter Gleadell was the starting pitcher – coming off an injury, but Coach Gray did not want to give Bradford any breathing room in this game. North was up 8-3 in the late in the game, but caught fire and had a 10 run 7th inning to put an exclamation mark on a championship season.   

Stats for the game:Grey had 5 strikeouts,  Gleadell had 2 strikeouts,  Edgin 2-3 with a double,  Elmore 4-5 with a double and home run – 5 RBI’s ,  Hutchins 2-3 with a double and a home run and 4 RBI’s.  Stephan Miller had a home run and 2 RBI’s.

After the game coach Gray remarked on Gleadell, “It was a close game, and he was a little rocky and little nervous – he just came back 2 weeks ago from an injury and so I put Nick Gray in and he pitched 4 good innings for us.  Bradford’s Wysong pitched well, we were just able to get on him early.  His other 3 years in the league, we had never faced him – and I was impressed.   He had problems getting his breaking pitch over and we were able to capitalize on that by jumping on his fast ball.”

Next I asked coach Grey about the season – the 4 one run ball games down the stretch, “Pitching is what wins those one run ball games.  We have had solid pitching this entire year.  Hitting wise we have done well, we have had some problems with certain pitchers and we try to work on our weakness as we can.  We went to extra innings against South, it took 9 innings to get that win.  And against Covington we had 9 errors – I don’t know how we won that game – that was not a good game for them.  We had to reset their focus after that game.”

The season, “Overall it’s been a good season, thanks to a great group of kids.  They have been resilient and they have set goals, and remained focused on those goals.  One of those goals was to win the league and they have done that.  The next goal is make regional , but we need to focus on each game in the tournament to accomplish that.”

So congrats to TCN for a championship season.  They will host the winner of Brookville vs. Northridge on Wednesday at Lewisburg.  So be sure and turn out to support the Panthers as they go for their next goal.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Touching Base April 27th

Tri-County North scored a big win this week by defeating last year’s league champs – Miami East.  The Panthers started their week with a decisive 8-1 win over the Bethel Bee’s.  Then they ended their week on Friday with a back and forth game against the Vikings.  North had a big 5th inning to get a lead in the game. But in the top half of the last inning, the Vikings had a big inning of their own, scoring 4 runs to tie the game.  But North scored a single run in the last half of the inning to cement the victory and solidify their claim to first place in the CCC.   Logan Elmore chalked up the win; Austin Hutchins was 2 for 4 at the plate as was Kodey Hawthorne.  North continues league play with games against Covington, Trail, and rival Twin Valley South.  Then they cap off the week hosting the Cody Holp Classic on Saturday, May 3rd. Brookville, Anna, and Arcanum will be the other teams at this game.

The Tri-County North girls did not fare as well with a 5-6 loss against Tri-Village.  The Preble Shawnee girls had a .500 week.  So after a strong start, they have slipped a bit.  They lost to 2nd place Milton Union 13-2 and in extra winnings they lost a close game to Edgewood 9-8.  They had a shut out win against Middletown Madison 3-0 and edged West Carrollton 3-2.  This puts the team in 3rd place in their division. There is still plenty of time  left in the season to make a run for first place. The Preble Shawnee boys had a frustrating week, getting run ruled in their two losses to Middletown Madison and Carlisle.

The Dixie girls built some momentum this week.  They got off to a slow start this season, but this was an impressive week for the team.  They blanked Eaton 9-0 (winning pitcher Tori Bargo; Jordan Buxton 4-4 from the plate), and defeated Milton Union 10-7, and West Carrollton 7-4.  Their lone loss was to Madison (5-2).  Their record stands at 6-8, but if the team continues to improve look for them to move up in the buckeye division standings.  The Dixie boys captured a single win this week against Botkins 12-5, but lost their other 3 games to Milton Union, Madison, and Carlisle.

The Twin Valley South boys had a nice 14-3 win against Ansonia, but just lost to Mississinewa Valley 8-7.  It was a tough week for the South girls starting with their Monday game against Mississinewa Valley, “We did only have 4 errors this game, which would normally be a lot, but dropping down from 12 errors in our last game is good.  The thing is, Mississinewa Valley took advantage of every error we had.  Plus, since our skill level isn't anywhere close to being where it's been over the past decade, a lot of opponent's hits are being recorded as hits, because we're just not able to get to the ball to make a play.  In other years, a lot of those hits would be putouts,” Stated coach Robinson afterwards.

South also played against state ranked Covington, “Covington is one of the best teams that we'll face, and they proved themselves worthy of their state ranking (3rd).  We had an extreme amount of errors tonight, but Covington is good at forcing you into making mistakes by their aggressive baserunning.  As bad as it looked, we had a few players that had really good games, defensively.  Sophie Cottingim and Jerica Taylor both had nice games on the right side of the infield, and Ali Robertson did an outstanding job at 3rd.  For two games in a row now, we've seen tremendous improvement in Lacey Emrick, behind the plate.  We got a chance to practice yesterday, and we worked really hard with her to help her gain some confidence in making throws to each of the bases.  It seems to have paid off.  At the plate, we didn't have a lot of hits, but I thought our team went to the plate with confidence against a really good pitcher.  I don't think Covington is used to someone starting the game off with a hit, and we did so, in Ashley Robertson.  Several of the players put the ball in play, but with Covington's solid defense, it was tough trying to find the holes.” 

The South girls team ended their week by sweeping a double header against New Miami - run ruling the Vikings in both games. Coach Robinson was elated with the victories, "Delaney Adams pitched a complete game in the first game of the day.  We had a dropped thrown ball in the first inning which extended the inning, making it look like it was going to be more of the same (of what we've been seeing all season).  But we came back out on defense in the second inning, after scoring 4 runs and taking the lead, to sit them down in order.  A fielding error in the third inning allowed another unearned run, but then with bases loaded, Delaney struck out a batter, and got the final batter of the inning to ground out to the pitcher.  I thought that was a big turning point in the game, because we retired the last 6 batters in order.  Sophie Cottingim had a huge game at the plate, going 3 for 3, with a walk added in there, and having 4 RBI's.  Her game-ending triple drove in the final 3 runs that pushed us to the 10 run limit after 5 innings."

She continued commentary on the second game, "Ali Robertson went the distance on the mound, allowing 6 hits, but NO walks.  I think that was really big, because it seems that every time our pitchers walk someone or we commit an error, those batters always find a way to score.  So not putting runner on, helped our defense settle down and allowed them just to concentrate on getting the batters out.  To think that we went 7 straight innings without an error, was quite an improvement over the past 8 games where we often had more errors than hits.  Ashley Robertson had a solid performance in center field, turning a double play, and recording 2 assists.  Jerica Taylor had a big day at first base too, see much improvement.  Really, all of our defensive players did a nice job today, including Lacey Emrick who caught both games.  Offensively, in the second game, our first three batters, Ashley Robertson, Lacey Emrick and Ali Robertson, accounted for 11 runs scored and 10 runs batted in, in just 4 innings.  In the second inning, all 9 players scored at least one run.  So it was great to see the girls relax and just hit the ball.  We've talked all season how hitting is contagious; not hitting is contagious too.  So yes, once we got going and really started hitting and driving in runs, it became really fun.  Some of our young players who have never played the game of softball before, finally got a taste of how great this game is.  Hopefully, we can use this to kick-start this next week of games."

Finally the South girls Wounded Warrior Project Game is postponed until May 7th.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Baseball/Softball in Full Swing

Fastpitch and baseball are going full bore now that April is here.   Teams are starting to separate and find their level as the spring progresses.  So far this spring, no real surprises. The local teams that have been strong perennially are performing as expected.   There is still a lot of baseball to be played, but already teams are jockeying for position in the standings.

North baseball has been strong and this season is no different.  They posted decisive wins this week – scoring a whopping 47 runs and allowing just  2 as they posted a perfect 3-0 week over Newton, Franklin Monroe and Mississinewa Valley.   The game against Newton was a 11-0 shutout.  Look for them to be  competing for the league title again this year.  The TCN Fastpitch team was .500 for the week splitting games against Newton and Mississinewa Valley.

Preble Shawnee Fastpitch is another local team that has fared well on the diamond and again they are off to a strong start.  They have one loss on the season - a one run loss to Middletown Madison (final score 4-3).  They gave Northridge a 25-1 shellacking.  At this point in the season, they stand at a respectable 5-1 and look poised for another competitive season.   The Shawnee baseball team on the other hand, struggled this week – dropping all three games.   They came closest to Northridge 6-3 and lost to Madison 4-0 and Carlisle 11-3.

South baseball had a win and a loss this week.  They garnered a 5-3 win over Franklin Monroe, but against Bradford they ran into a buzz saw in Branden Wysong.  He recorded 14 strikeouts against the Panthers as the Railroaders shutout the Panthers 4-0.  Jordan Burns took the loss. The team is hovering around .500 on the young season right now. The South girls struggled in their two games this week.  Bradford trounced on the Panthers 18-3.  Jerica Taylor, Ali Robertson, and Sarah Bingham recorded hits in the loss.  Delaney Adams was the pitcher of record.

Next up for the Panthers was Franklin Monroe.  Although the team connected more at the plate, they couldn’t get many runs across the plate for their efforts.  The Panthers took a 14-4 loss.  And fielding for the young team was a problem as they chronicled 12 errors for the game.  At the plate, Lacey Emrick and Ashley Robertson both had 2 hits; Alyssa Kube had a single and a double,  Raven Cline and Sophie Cottingim both had singles. Ali Robertson took the loss and Delaney Adams had a relief appearance.

South’s Fastpitch Coach Robinson had some remarks on the week, “Last night against Bradford, we just didn't hit the ball well at all.  Their senior pitcher was able to hit her spots extremely well, and just kept our hitters off balanced all night.  On the other hand, Bradford had a strong line-up from top to bottom at the plate.”

Franklin Monroe, “Against Franklin Monroe tonight, we just kept shooting ourselves in the foot all night long on defense.  We hit the ball much better, but when you have 12 errors, I don't care who you're playing, you're not going to win.  The frustrating thing about those errors was that in most cases, they were on the most routine of plays.  I have to think we just keep losing focus and it goes back to a lack of experience on a lot of our player's parts; it's certainly not for a lack of preparation and practice!  We have worked on situations so much in practice, it baffles me as to why we can't carry those things over into games.  Hopefully as the season progresses, we'll find ourselves getting better.”

Next week look for pictures and highlights from the TVS Fred Durkle Invitational.

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Young TVS Team Wins Opener

A young TVS fastpitch team won their first game of the season with a close win over Stivers this past week.  And to add even more tension to opening day, South had several players miss the game due to a class trip to France.   They had just enough players to field a team.  The past two season’s South has been able to start a senior on the mound.  But this year junior Ashley Robertson is penciled in as the Ace.  But with her being away on the trip, Freshman Delany Adams was tapped to take the mound.  It is doubly tough when your first start is also opening day.

However the young pitcher performed well in her first outing.  Stivers had a slim lead early, but South went ahead with a big 4th inning where they captured the lead.  Stivers had a big inning of their own in the 7th,  as Adams arm seemed to tire.  But she buckled down and with the help of her teammates, held off Stivers for a 9-8 win.  And the young pitcher helped her own cause, going 3 for 4 from the plate.   Lacey Emrick had 2 triples.  And senior Alyssa Kube had a base running mistake where she was tagged out – you could tell she was frustrated with herself for the misplay.  But later in the game she touched all the bases when she hit a solid home run over the fence and made good. 

It was a soggy week and the weather cleared enough for the team to play a Saturday double header against an experienced Preble Shawnee squad.  Their fortunes were not as good as the team went down both games (16-0, 11-0) with one of those games being a no hitter.   Lacey Emrick, Alyssa Kube, Delany Adams, and Sophie Cottingim were the only Panther players to make contact with the ball.

Coach Robinson was happy with the season opener, but frustrated by the double header, “We had a tough day of being schooled by a very good Shawnee softball team.  We didn't hit the ball well, and we didn't field the ball well either.  Our pitchers struggled at times, but it's discouraging when you finally get the batter to put the ball in play for a routine out, and we don't field it cleanly or we throw the ball away.  That kind of sums up both games, not to say that Shawnee didn't have some great hits, they did.  We just had too many missed opportunities to keep the scores a lot closer.”

She continued, “Having only 5 experienced players back this year is tough.  We've got some potential in some of our younger players, but they just haven't played enough softball.  We have 3 on our roster that had never even seen a fastpitch softball game.  So until we can get these kids some viable experience, we're going to struggle.  But having said that, we are going to get better, and we will be competitive with some teams before the season is over.  The younger players have been very coachable and they're eager to get better.  Hopefully by mid-season, we'll have seen a lot of improvement in our team.”

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Hounds Fall to Knights

Sixteenth seeded Dixie faced off against the number one seed Chaminade-Julienne in tournament play at the University of Dayton Arena. To get there, Dixie upset a number ten seeded Dayton Christian 70-65 in their opening round game. While Chaminade-Julienne had two lopsided victories to their credit, beating NorthEastern 77-21, and Greenview 63-28.  So the battle tested Greater Catholic League Eagles had some major momentum coming into the game.

But any hopes that the Eagles may have had of making easy work of the Grey Hounds were quickly thrown aside.  They opened with a 1-3-1 zone which Dixie was able to figure out and get points against. Dixie started with a man to man defense and went to the press later in the quarter.  They were down by 7 at the end of the opening quarter 19-12.

Back on the court Dixie went on a little run and closed the gap.  This caused the Eagles to call a time out to sort things out.  The Eagles were in a man to man zone, and Dixie countered with an offense where they slashed to the basket for layups from the perimeter.   The Eagles had been hot in the first quarter and now they had cooled.  Meanwhile Dixie pulled ahead and led briefly at the midpoint of the quarter.  The Eagles were able to regain the lead and got some points off of turnovers – sinking a couple of shots to close the half with a 31-23 lead.

The chess match between the two coaches continued into the second half as Dixie came out in a 1-3-1 defense.  Slowly Dixie clawed back and closed the deficit, pulling to within 3 points.  But the hard scrabble defense that the Hounds were playing came at a cost as two of their starters began to get into foul trouble.   It was a 3 point game with a little over 6 minutes left in the contest.  But in the stretch run, the Eagles were able  to pull ahead and when post player Seth Benner, who had been a defense force in the paint, fouled out with a minute and and a half  left, the Hounds had no one to counter the Eagles height and they pulled away for a 70-57 win. 

But it was a lot closer game than that final score would indicate.  Joe Staley said afterwards,”When I saw them before tonight, they were getting good looks from their motion offense, I knew that they could give us trouble.   It’s not always easy to beat the teams that you are supposed to beat, they gave us their best game.”

Coach Williams had this to say, “I am proud of the way this team played in this tournament.  We played some of our best basketball at the end of the season.  The five seniors really contributed this season – we will miss them. They have had 3 coaches in 3 years and have had some adjustments to make.  But the team showed that they can play the type of basketball that we are trying to teach them to play. This past summer it was tough to get everybody together because of the way that things worked out.  But I am looking forward to working hard with this team this off season. “ 

Scoring for Dixie: Fisher 4, Pietrzek 2, Moore 16, Benner 14, Watts 10, Grubb 2, Mintz 6, Leonard 3.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Dixie Battles Arcanum

The League leading Dixie Lady Greyhounds did battle with the 4th seed Arcanum Trojans in the state tournament this past week.  It was an exciting game where Dixie gave Arcanum all that they could handle for all four quarters.   Arcanum had a slight height advantage and used that to their advantage in the first half.  They did a good job of hitting the boards and got a lot of second chance shots.

To counter this, Dixie resorted to a full court trap to generate turnovers after a time out late in the first quarter.    Dixie closed the gap, but were down 8-10 at the close of the quarter.   In the second quarter Dixie’s post player Cassidy Shell got her third foul and sat out the rest of the half.  Making it even tougher for Dixie to win the battle of the boards.  Then immediately after this, Arcanum nailed a trey to extend their lead.  And Arcanum closed out a strong quarter with one of their players winging a shot from half court and sinking it just as the buzzer sounded.  Arcanum had extended their lead to 28-19.

Shell got no love from the referee’s as she got her 4th foul early in the 3rd quarter on an offensive charge – again the junior took to the bench.  With Arcanum beating their press, Dixie settled into a zone-like ½ court defense.   Arcanum was able to nail their shots and extended their lead, but Kylie Hundley, who would lead Dixie scoring with 21 points, did a good of slashing to the basket and helped close the gap at the end of the quarter.  And Amara Wylie capped off a good run when the ball was stolen, tossed to her, and she scored on a layup at the end of the quarter.  Still Dixie was down 48-41.

And in the 4th quarter it was a battle for every possession.  Hundley was a real factor in the teams run as they closed the gap with the Trojans. With about 3 minutes left to go, Dixie had whittled the lead down to 3 points.   Dixie began fouling but they only had 5 fouls and had to commit a couple of fouls just to get to bonus and put Arcanum on the foul line.   But Arcanum made their shots in the last few minutes and Dixie lost the ground that they had won, finally losing 64-51.

The Dixie coach was asked for comment after the game, “I thought it was a really hard fought game.  I thought that Arcanum played extremely well tonight.  We just didn’t really hit our shots in the second half and it made it hard to catch up. When we got it down to 3 points difference late in the game, I thought we really had a chance to turn the game around.  But they made shots and we didn’t. But I am proud of our girls, we had an amazing season.”

High scorer Kylie Hundley, “She has really came along when you see her as a freshman and now as a senior.  She was third leading scorer in our league this year – and she had another big game tonight.  She’s been a leader all this year.  Her and Abby Bertke have been our mainstays on offense this year. I am also proud of seniors Katy Parker and Ashley Rader.   When I took over 3 years ago we were 3-18, then 10-12 and now this year we go 16-6 and win the league title.  I am glad that they stuck with it and put in the hard work to get us here. “

Scoring for Dixie: Wylie 4, Shell 6, Hundley 21, Leis 5, Honeywell 1, Bertke 14.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Arrows Fall

Winning their opening game in the state tournament 57-52 against Milton Union, Preble Shawnee advanced to the second round where they ran into a buzz saw in Versailles - a perennial basketball powerhouse and a top ten ranked team in the state.   The Tigers used a press against the Arrows and with a deep bench, they kept a stream of fresh players in revolving door fashion on the court.  Although the players were gamers to the end, they would fall 84-34.

It has been a tumultuous season the Preble Shawnee Girls basketball team.  Short on numbers, they decided to forgo a Junior Varsity team and just play a varsity only schedule.  By seasons end the team had one senior, one junior, and the balance were freshman and sophomores. Then due to illness and injury they went on a streak where they played 6 games in a row with just 6 players.  Still the team overcame adversity and ended the season with a winning record. 

Coach Joe Webster had this to say after the game, “Nobody had thought that we would win what we have won.   You guys can’t win, you won’t win.  But we proved them wrong by winning 13 games – not too bad with this young group of kids.  But we ran into one of the top teams in the state here.  We are 5 foot nothing and they are 6 foot plus. “

The seniors, “We lost Sydney Steele earlier in this season with a broken foot.  But Mattie Woodard is primarily a soccer player, but came back to play basketball.  She’s a soccer player playing basketball but she still excelled. She exceeded her expectations and mine.  She will compete on any night, against anybody – she has that kind of heart.  It’s going to be hard to replace that.  She shows the younger kids on the court that this is the way that this game is to be played. She was first team all league, nominated for the district team, and first team upperclassman on the district team. We will miss her and her heart to compete that’s the biggest thing with Mattie. ” 

Scoring for Shawnee: Woodard 17, Moore 9, Walker 6, Wilson 2

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Saving the Best for Last

The Twin Valley South girls basketball regular season drew to a close earlier this week. They were able to close out the season on a winning note with a victory over Jefferson.   So this lights a little glimmer of hope for the future.  It was a one point game at the break, but the team made some half time adjustments and were able to pull away with a comfortable win 46-36.

Coach Mabry talked after the game, “We have not had a lot of real tight games, but when it came down to the 4th quarter they learned how to hold onto a victory – I am proud of them. “ I asked about the change at halftime: “We were just excited about being in a competitive game. So I settled them down, reinforced what we needed to do – we were 0 for 7 from the foul line in the first half for instance but we did better in the second half.  Defensively we saw that that they had one fairly decent player and we did a box and one on her, which slowed her down. “

The locker room after the game, “It was more subdued than what you would think.  The locker rooms are close here and we didn’t want to show them up by doing a whole lot of screaming and yelling.  There was some jumping and down – but yeah they were excited.”  

Scoring for TVS:  Bolton 10, Bingham 2, Megan Wright 5, Madison Wright 8, Horton 2, Hutchins 6, Schwaberow 13. South plays in the state tournament Wednesday at Brookville against Bradford at 6pm.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

South Steps on North

The two Route 503 foes met for the second time this season on Friday. Their first meeting was at the Preble Shawnee Holiday tournament and it ended up as a decisive win for South.  This time the game was at North’s senior night.  But South upended North’s hopes of climbing another rung in the league standings with another victory.
South started out dominating on both offense and defense.  Their first volley of shots was all treys and they were 4 of 5 to start the game.  At the other end of the court, they kept North bewildered with an array of defenses.  They played man to man, then switched to a trapping defense, and finally ended up in a zone.  A ruckus hometown was quieted by the end of the first quarter as South garnered a 23-5 lead. 

North has been notorious this season for slow starts this season.  But although they slowed the pace of South’s scoring, they could not make up much ground in the remaining 3 quarters. The final was 36-67 in favor of South.   Senior Austin Hutchins, who will be playing football for Ohio Northern University next year, had 17 points to lead North.  Interestingly, South was able to shut him out in the first half – so all his scoring was done in just 2 quarters.  Leading the way for South was Mike Green who had 20 points on the night.

North’s coach Scott King had this to say after the game, “We have a hard time handling the other team’s pressure.  We are struggling to do the little things it takes every possession to win these kinds of games.  We did not have one of our top scorers tonight, but I am not sure it would have been a difference in the end. But I have to give credit to South – they are playing well.  They have a good core of guys who can take care of the ball, rebound well, and score, they have a nice package.”

South’s Tony Augspurger commented, “I thought we played really well. We talked before the game.  North is having a pretty good season and even though we beat them in December we wanted to get on them early and set the tone.   Our defense got on them early, we mixed things up on them and the team executed well.  The longer you let them stay in the game, the more they believe that they can play with you.  And we were able to prevent that – we defended well, we passed it well, we shot it well.

On having senior Troy Innis back, “He has certainly been a hard luck kid. He played injured all of last year.  We had thought that he wouldn’t be able to play at  all, but now he has a chance to come back and help us.  He still needs to be in better shape and then he can give us more quality minutes and do good things for us.”

South capped off their weekend with narrow 67-65 win over Preble Shawnee. Since the winter break the team has left the win-lose, win-lose track that they were on in 2013 and have generated genuine momentum in 2014. With Innis back to add another senior to the roster the team looks primed to compete in the state tournament that lies just ahead.

Next week South faces Franklin Monroe a team that has beaten Tri-Village to lay claim for first in the conference.  Then on Friday they play National Trail.

Thursday, February 06, 2014

Playing for the Future

It has been a difficult year for the Twin Valley South Girls Basketball team this season.  A low turnout and young team meant that the squad entered the season at a disadvantage.  Only one player, senior Kacy Bolton, had any varsity experience from the previous year.  And when most of your line up is comprised of freshman and sophomores it means that the team is not going to have the stamina and the physicality of a seasoned varsity squad.  There have been times when there has been 5 freshman on the court.  Which means that there are 14-15 year olds going against 17 and 18 year olds.

Due to injury South has had to drop their junior varsity schedule. Now Preble Shawnee faces a similar problem with numbers.   And like South they are playing a varsity only schedule. But with a core group of experienced players,  they are hovering around .500 for the season.   So for the time being they are maintaining some measure of success despite having a low turnout.  But South does not have that core group of Varsity experience – they are mostly fresh faces.

South’s best scoring player, Haily Keener has been sidelined with a server ankle sprain and is out for the season.  So when Covington visited this past week it was another tough game for the winless Panthers.  They were down 31-8 at the half and at games end they were down 61-10.  Covington used a man to man to defense to keep South in check and used a shell offense against South’s zone.  Scorer’s for South: Kacy Bolton 2, Sarah Bingham 2, Madison Wright 4, Bailey Schwarbow 2. 

It’s been tough but the girls are grinding through the season.  When I arrived at the game the Covington fans were equal in number if not more than the South side of the stands.  There were some arrivals at halftime for South.  But the stands were definitely sparse.   I think that the team needs recognition from the South faithful for just pushing through the season and playing to the best of their ability night after night.
I spoke with coach Mabry about this trying season after the game, “It’s difficult, it’s frustrating.  You try to look at little victories, sometimes it’s not a matter of what the score is – but are we executing stuff that we worked on this week in practice.  And sometimes they get it and you get a little excited about the future.  But is tough on these young kids to go out there and be out manned. Varsity basketball is a more physical and aggressive game than what they are used to.”

Is there any one player that has advanced more than you thought they would from the beginning of the season?  “I see little things in all of them.   I think all of them have made improvements in their game.  But going forward we need to keep working and getting better each time we step on the court.  I see the potential in them, but they have been thrown into a situation where they are playing varsity before they are truly ready.  It would have been best for them to play at the JV level and maybe had a little more success.   In the long run you hope that playing against better competition will push them to make themselves better.  On the other hand you hope that it doesn’t deflate them totally and make them give up.”

For the future. “ Right now you have freshman and sophomores playing varsity and you have to figure that after 2 -3 years that they will be in a spot to have an impact. In the meantime there has be patience both for them and myself as they mature as players. They have to realize that it won’t be this year and maybe not next year. But you have to figure that in 3 years all this hard work will pay off.”

South girls have a lot of make up games due to the recent bad weather.  South will be playing a one win Bethel team and also a 3 win Jefferson team in the next couple of weeks.  These will be their best opportunities to get that 0’fer off of their necks.  So let’s go support them – win or lose. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

South Defense Suffocates Bradford

South has been working hard on their defense and it is paying dividends as they have strung together three wins in a row for the first time this season.  And those three wins were all on the road.  For the longest time they were in a pattern where they were splitting games week by week – win a game, lose a game.   But they seem to have gotten out of that rut and have generated some momentum for the first time this season.

Their first two wins of this streak were against Mississinewa Valley, another team hovering around the .500 mark and Brookville, a SWBL opponent with a 7-4 record.  They took the momentum off of these two wins into Bradford where I caught up with the Panthers.  South opened with a suffocating press that Bradford could not figure out.  I was impressed when South did not allow them to score until about 20 seconds was left in the first quarter.   South’s offense was in high gear as well and they had a 19-2 lead.

So I was even more awed when the team held Bradford to a single point in the next quarter.  Basketball is an offensive sport. So when you can hold a varsity team to single digits in any quarter that is an achievement.  And they did that for 4 quarters, not allowing Bradford to score in double figures in any quarter. Wes Cole was a scoring dynamo for South – leading the way in the first half and even though he rested on the bench for much of the second half, he would lead all scorers with 23 points.

The team was able to give their bench some playing time in the second half and it is worthy to note that the defensive pressure did not relent even with the underclassmen in the game.  South recently lost another athlete for the season, so another sophomore has been moved up to take his slot.  So this gave the team a chance to work in a new face under game conditions. 

Coach Augspurger was pleased with the win, “We have been working on defense in practice very hard the last few weeks.  It has been a point of emphasis.   We backed off on our pressure and laid back in a zone in the second half, and we still maintained an aggressive defense.  Wes Cole has been playing well for us this season and he had another good game for us tonight.”

Looking ahead, “In the past we have had an 80% win rate over the course of a season at home.  And teams dreaded coming to South for a game. Recently we have not defended our home court and intimidated opponents like we did in the past. We need to get that attitude back – our team is playing our next 4 games at home.  Winning those 4 games will go a long way towards giving us a respectable record for the season. “

South continued their winning ways with a 48-35 win over Miami East the following night – giving the Panther 4 wins in row. 

  Next week they host Arcanum and Franklin-Monroe.
Scoring for TVS:  Cole 23, Green 10, Osborn 4, Bassler 4, Utz 10, Baker 8.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

TVS Splits

The new year didn’t bring a change to South’s habit of splitting games.  This weekend the two foes were fellow CCC team Newton and the GCL’s Fenwick.  South was able to take care of business against Newton, but Fenwick was a much tougher foe and despite a good run in the 4th quarter they would fall to the Falcons.

Newton had greater depth than TVS, but overall the team was smaller.  South used this to their advantage and dominated in the paint – both in scoring and in rebounding.  A lot of the bench players got to see some action as South took off hard out of the blocks and built an easy lead.  They were able to cruise to a 64-25 victory.  Scoring for South: Cole 12, Burns 4, Cottingim 2, Green 27, Bassler 8, Osborn 4, Utz 2, Baker 11.

After the game coach Augspurger commented that, “We did a good job against a not so strong opponent.  We defended well against them and maintained defensive integrity which kept their scoring to a minimum. We used our size effectively and rebounded well.  We were able to take care of business against their team.”
Saturday nights opponent was Middletown’s Bishop Fenwick, a member of the GCL.  Fenwick used a vigorous man to man defense to put a chokehold on the South offense in the first half.  On the night South would cough up the ball 22 times. At halftime, the Falcons were up 24-10.  In the second half, South adjusted and using a trapping defense to put pressure on Fenwick.  And on offense Wes Cole began to nail 3 pointers and really ate into the opponents lead in the last quarter.

But the high water mark for South was when they closed to score within 5 in the 4th.  But Fenwick responded with a trey of their own and popped the lead back out to 8.  So South’s run fell short and Fenwick pulled away with a 56-43 victory.

“At the beginning of the year I thought Fenwick was the second best team on our schedule,” stated coach Augspurger, “but after playing them I have to reconsider that.  They are a 10-2 team in one the best basketball conferences in Ohio – the GCL.  Their man to man defense was impressive and their two guards are 3 year starters, they played really well.  Next week we play against Mississinewa Valley and Brookville.  Both of these games are on the road.  Both of these teams can beat TVS, but if we play like we are capable, we can beat them. We will need to find something inside and play some hard-nosed basketball to come away with 2 wins next week. “

Sunday, January 05, 2014

South Runners up in Holiday Tournament

Twin Valley South won their opening round game in Preble Shawnee’s Holiday Tournament.  They easily defeated their opponent to play in the championship game the following night.  But the host team – Preble Shawnee was able to put together a winning game plan and thwarted South’s efforts at a sweep for the weekend.

South was still smarting from their loss last weekend and were revved up when they played their opening round game against Tri-County North.  Both teams are hovering around the .500 mark on the season.  But South had the upper hand in this game.  They  put up 21 points in the first quarter and kept their foot on the pedal as they easily outpaced North for a 74-40 victory.   South had 3 players in double figures:  Mike Green lead all scorers with 30 points, followed by Wes Cole with 20, Seth Baker had 11.  JJ Utz had 6, Jacob Bassler had 5 and Josh Cottingim scored 2.  North was able to capture one victory on the weekend by winning the consolation game against Gamble 70-44. 

Preble Shawnee earned their way to the Championship bracket with an opening night win over Gamble 83-62.  It was a fast paced game with lots of points scored in transition.  And Shawnee was also able to score points in transition against South.  That and turnovers were the bane for the South throughout the night.  In the first quarter, Shawnee focused on driving into the paint.  This was successful from a scoring standpoint and also it put South center Mike Green into foul trouble with 2 first quarter fouls.  He would later get fouls 3 and 4 and had to spend time on the bench.

South soon found themselves down by double figures and resorted to a trapping defense and late in the game to a man to man defense to try and keep Shawnee off  balance and slow their pace of scoring. The South offense was slow to warm up, they were cold in the first half.  They managed to make a little run in the 4th quarter but after trimming the lead to 10 points, Shawnee woke up and surged ahead for the win 56-40. 

Shawnee’s Coach Crider said that getting Green out of the game was key, “We focused on going inside in the first quarter and it paid off.  Green got 2 fouls and had to sit.  On defense we wanted to keep him out of his comfort zone on the blocks, we knew that if he started scoring, he was hard to stop.  We pressured their outside shooters and made it hard for them to score.”

South’s coach Augspurger had praise for Shawnee, “They had a good game plan and executed it.  You have to hand it Shawnee they earned the win. We had too many turnovers, some due to their defense, but many were self-imposed.  As a team we have to learn to bounce back, we seem to get down and just hang our heads.  We need to get that attitude where we fight back against adversity.”

Scoring for South: Cole 10, Green 4, Bassler 5, Utz 4, Baker 17.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

South Trounces Tigers, Crushed by Patriots

This past week was another week where South split games.  Their first opponent was the Ansonia Tigers which the Panthers disposed 69-42.  The two teams played even in the first quarter with the Panthers holding just a 2 point lead.  But in the second quarter the team bettered the margin by 12 points, they built on that lead in the second half and cruised to an easy victory.  But it was a different story against the Tri-Village Patriots.

In this game, the Panthers never really did seem to get in sync.  They began in their familiar zone, while Tri-Village played a man to man defense that they stayed in the entire night. It was quickly apparent that South was having problems finding the basket, while Tri-Village was nailing their shots on their home court.  And although South did a fair job of rebounding in the first half, Tri-Village did not miss much and so their opportunities were limited.

In the second quarter, coach Augspurger took two time outs to try and stop the bleeding.  But things got worse when post player Jake Osborn was taken out of the game with an injured ankle.  In a game against a tall and physical Patriot team that was scoring in the paint at will, this really put South at a disadvantage.  South tried several defensive schemes to stop the Patriots.  They used a trapping defense, then man to man, but nothing seemed to stop the pace of scoring by the home town team.

38-16 was the score at the break.  South would not score in double figures in any quarter except the 4th quarter. Patriot post player 6’5” Tyler Cook was a dynamo under the basket.  I am not sure that he missed a shot in the first half, he was Mr. Automatic and would score a game high 30 points on the night.  And when the defense focused on him, the Patriots would strike from 3 point land. South would fall 70-41 to a smoking hot Patriot team.

“It was a very good basketball team that beat a still emerging basketball team,” stated coach Augspurger afterwards.  “Tri-Village is in a very good place right now.  Josh Sagester just does an outstanding job.  They’ve been on a roll for years and they just keep getting better.  Tyler Cook is an absolute beast in the blocks.  Their other kids do things well – they defend well.  For the first quarter and a half, we got a lot of good shots – but didn’t make any.  But they executed and got shots and made them.  We struggled to get anything going offensively.  It’s been tough with starters out for the first 4 games, we are just now getting everyone into our practices. And it’s going to take a lot of work to get where we need to be.”

Next Friday South will be playing North in the opening round of the Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament at 6pm on Friday. “They [North] are playing better, they are getting some confidence,  we’ve won the tournament the last couple of years, but to make it 3 in a row we have to come out ready to play against them. We have to learn something from tonight, but have a short memory.”

Scoring for TVS:  Wes Cole 14, Mike Green 10,  Jordan Burns 3,  Jacob Bassler 6, Seth Baker 8.