Monday, August 22, 2016

South Ready for Football

Twin Valley South scrimmaged Middletown Madison this past weekend in their final scrimmage before starting the regular season next Friday at Dixie.  This season the team is under new head coach Clint Bartlett who takes over the helm from coach Tyler Cates.   Cates left South to take over the head coaching job at Covington after a 6-4 season.

Under Bartlett the team is running a different style of offense - a pro set offense with two backs in the back field and wide receivers.  Madison ran a wing T offense at first and later in the scrimmage ran some plays with a single wing.  In the early going the South offense had a tough time sustaining drives.   They had some decent runs at times but were thrown for loss or had penalties that put them in long yardage situations.

The Panthers had a tough time passing.  They threw sparingly but couldn't make critical catches when they were needed.  Madison mostly ran the ball as well, but they were a little more effective with their passing attack.  In the first half, Madison was able to score 4 times and in the second part of the scrimmage they were able to kick a decent field goal.  The kick was at least 35 yards, so not bad for a high school kicker.

South did have a respectable drive after the break.  First the defense stood up Madison, holding them to 3 plays and forcing them to give up the ball.  The offense seemed to feed off of that energy and put together their best drive of night going the distance and punching the ball in for their score.  The drive had to finish with the back up quarterback as the starting quarterback appeared to be having some sort of problem with his leg.  Still it was nice to see the team have the spirit and the ability to come back after being down.  After this the two teams began to substitute in the second half of the scrimmage - giving the reserves some field time.

South graduated some talent and are learning a new system under a new coach.  So there is a lot for new players to absorb in a short period of time. So inexperience at varsity play and with the new scheme will be factors for South to overcome. Their first game is a against Dixie, a team hungry for wins, coming off of a 1 win season last year.   The Hounds are down a little on numbers this season, while South has a deeper roster so fatigue could be a factor in this first game. The weather will be warm and players that have to go both ways will wear down fast. Since this game is against a SWBL school the start time will be 7pm.

Friday, July 29, 2016

Baseballs Dilemma

Recently FC Cincinnati drew over 35,000 fans to an exhibition soccer game against a British Team Crystal Palace.   Even though this was a unique event, the soccer club has been drawing well this season - over 16,000 a game.   Moreover these are young fans - the average attendee is in their mid-thirties.   Also something to note - this is not even major league soccer.   FC Cincinnati is probably the equivalent of an AA baseball team in their sport.   You have to wonder what the numbers would be if this was a major league soccer team.

My generation has always looked down their noses at soccer.   I can recall Pele being signed by the professional soccer league mainly as a PR stunt to get fans interested in their league.   It was partially successful as he did help the Cosmos win a championship, but soccer never really took off in the 1970's.   But soccer did gain inroads as youth leagues were set up and youngsters began to play soccer. So now that these players are adults, they understand the game and can follow it as my generation cannot.

Baseball was the nations pastime for the longest time.   It was the countries only professional sport for decades until football and basketball gained traction.   They have caught up with and pretty much passed up baseball.   There is more action in these two sports compared with the slow pace of baseball. You have to admit that there is a lot of standing around in this sport.   And I think that with our shorter attention spans we gravitate to events with more action.

This is proven out as baseball has the oldest fans of any of the major sports.   The average baseball fan is in their 50's.   The oldest fan demographic in professional sports.   Basketball and Soccer have the youngest fans interest while football is somewhere in between.   So baseball has to be worried.   They are not attracting so many in the youth leagues as they once did.   Once this generation of fans fades away, who will replace them?

The Reds are averaging over 24,000 paid attendance in a lackluster season.   But they have to be looking over their shoulder at this young upstart team that already is drawing about 2/3 of the fans that they are as a 1st year club in a mid tier league.   There are only so many sports dollars to go around and it looks like the younger generation is spending their money on soccer.   Once this current generation of baseball fans is gone there is a problem where fewer people will be around to spend money on baseball if they don't do something to get more young people interested in the game. 

The game needs to be sped up and have more action to appeal to a younger fan base.  There needs to be a limit on the number of foul balls and time outs are two quick changes that would speed things up a little.  I am sure that there are other means of speeding up games too. Traditionalists would not like toying with the sport, but it needs tinkering or risk gradually going into oblivion.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

History Repeats Itself - South Coach to Covington

The last time that Covington had an opening for head football coach, they looked to the South for a replacement - Twin Valley South that is.  Dave Miller, who at that time had taken TVS to their deepest playoff run ever, was tapped for the position at Covington.  He has had great success there - making Covington a perennial playoff contender and a fixture as an upper echelon team in the CCC.  The Buccaneers had great success under his tutelage.

Dave Miller was a graduate of Centerville - where his father coached.  He is remaining in the Dayton area and will be coaching at Kettering Fairmont where he hopes to be coaching his sons.  So it is the end of one era for him and the beginning of another.

So Covington has decided to see if history will repeat itself by selecting another coach from TVS - Tyler Cates as Millers replacement.  Cates is a graduate of Arcanum where he was a running back.  So he has local roots in this area.  He has had success at South and ironically is one of the few coaches to beat Covington in back to back seasons.  He runs a positive program, He features the run offensively, but as we saw this last season, he is not afraid to utilize a passing based offense when he has the talent to do so.  Those are big shoes to step into in Covington, but I think that the young coach will fare well.

And for South it is back to square one as they begin anew to search for a coach. The program has been cyclical, for one they need some continuity at head coach in order to have continued success from year to year.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Dixie - Franklin Monroe Part Duo

It was just a week ago that Dixie overcame Franklin Monroe in a hotly contested game that went into overtime. This week the two teams met on a neutral court – Northmont High School in the first round of the state tournament. The contest did see some momentum swings and again it was a close game that was decided in the final minutes.

But first up for Dixie this week was Milton Union. This was a make up league game from the regular season that had been canceled because of snow. Dixie won their first game against Milton Union by double digits. And maybe the team was looking forward to the tournament game at the end of the week or maybe they were over confident from their earlier win, but Dixie started slow in the 1st quarter.

The Bulldogs accumulated a double digit lead 17-7 in the 1st quarter and kept that lead for most of the game. The Greyhounds went on a rampage in the last quarter and mounted a furious comeback that fell short. They ended their regular season on a down note 57-53.

But against Franklin Monroe, the Greyhounds raced out to an early lead. Seemingly not wanting to repeat their earlier mistake. Franklin Monroe started the game defensively in a zone defense and Dixie was able to find seams and score. They went on a little run in the last half of the 2nd quarter and had a 34-22 lead at the break.

Dixie's defense allowed them to keep their lead in the 3rd quarter. The team made steals and converted them into points. However, playing aggressive defense can also lead to fouls. And so early in the 4th quarter Dixie was giving up bonus and also Cody Grubb had 4 fouls - hamstringing his playing time.

Dixie was up 45-34 entering the final quarter, but their shooting was cold. Franklin Monroe was in an aggressive man to man defense and Dixie found the scoring tough. Meanwhile Franklin Monroe went on a 12-0 run and briefly lead before Cody Grubb broke the Greyhound scoring drought with a 3 point shot. Now it was a battle to the wire as the 2 teams exchanged the lead several times. Franklin Monroe got a 3 point advantage with about 2 minutes left and Dixie went into a press to try and get a turnover.

Finally Dixie had to resort to fouling to get the ball back. The Jets shot well enough from the foul line and withstood Dixie's attempt at a comeback to win the rematch 61-57. It was a disappointing loss for the Greyhounds.

“We played our identity and that is man to man,” stated the Jet's coach Myer after the game, “That is the biggest change we made in the 2nd half. They were getting good looks and making shots off our zone in the 1st half. It seemed to disrupt their rhythm and they weren't making all their shots. And when we started the 4th quarter, you could see in their eyes that they wanted this. We've played some really close games that we lost - tonight the team became unified when it mattered. We got stops on defense, we pulled down rebounds, and we were able to seal the win with free throws.“

“Franklin Monroe was the better team tonight,” stated Dixie's coach Williams, “Down the stretch we did not execute. We gave up too many points in the 4th quarter. We also got into foul trouble and that took Cody Grubb out of the game. We could not get a good flow going in the 4th quarter like we did in the first 3 quarters. You have to credit Franklin Monroe for that.”

Finally he was asked about the senior class, “Our senior class was solid. In my 3 years here, these are the guys that I met as sophomores. They play hard, they are hard willed, they are hard nosed. Blake Miller was phenomenal for us this year – he was all district. Cody Grubb had a good year. Justin Keirns – all those guys played well for us. Our sophomore, Devon Worley was amazing – I am looking forward to next year. Our success is dependent upon what we do in the off season.”

Scoring for Dixie: Cody Grubbs 16, Austin Simpson 3, Devon Worley 12, Blake Miller 17, Ethan Arnette 3, Dustin Petry 2, Dakota Grise 4.

South Comeback Falls Short

As they have so often this season, South started slow in the 1st quarter in their state tournament game. The Cedarville Indians took advantage and captured the early lead. So South had to dig themselves out of a hole. The scoring was slow in the 1st quarter as the two teams sized each other up. So it was 11-7 at the first break.

Coach Augspurger had taken a time out late in the 1st quarter and changed defenses from a man to man to a trapping zone in a bid to break up the lethargy. South got some turnovers, but didn't really get the momentum change they needed. Cedarville was rebounding well, which meant that South was not getting many 2nd chance shots. And at the other end of the court, the Indians were hitting their shots.

South made a little run to start the 2nd quarter. Mike Myers tied the game at 11-all and it looked like South was going to gain momentum. But Cedarville responded and that was the mode for the remainder of the quarter. South would make a small run and Cedarville would re-extend their lead. At halftime it was 26-18 in the favor of the Indians. The Indians Jacob Gannon had done the most damage scoring 15 points against the Panthers.

With the Indians holding Jacob Bassler in check, the Panther were needing someone to step up. Mike Meyers stepped up the challenge and had a monster second half. He lead South in scoring with 27 points – and lead the charge as the South tried to overcome the deficit.

The Panthers allowed the Indians to go on a run in the second half and then settled down and began to chip away at the lead. They made a few good runs at the Indians – closing to within 3 points, but the Indians did their job at the foul line and that was as close as they would get as the Indians staved off the Panthers for a 56-52 win.

After a huge late season win over Carlisle (2nd place team in SWBL), South seemed to fade as the season came to an end. After that win they dropped 2 games to teams with losing records – Arcanum and North and lost any momentum that they could have carried over from that game. Still the team ended the regular season with a 13-9 record and were in the top half of the CCC.

“Unfortunately we entered the tournament headed in the wrong direction,” Tony Augspurger stated, “It's too bad because our seniors did a good job of leading us this year. Coming off of the Carlisle win, we felt good and I think they did too. So it's too bad we couldn't have finished better for them.”

He speaking about the seniors, “JJ Utz and Jacob Bassler were 3 year starters and they both did good things for us. Jacob did a lot of good offensively and JJ was one of the better defensive players that I have coached, he was tenacious. Chad Ehler and Winston Crossier did a lot of positive things for us. Our 4 senior starters helped make our program strong.”

Scoring for South: Mike Myers 26, Jacob Bassler 8, JJ Utz 7, Travis Lovely 7, Chad Ehler 4,

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Dixie Wins in Overtime

Two teams playing for pride left it all on the court Saturday night. They represented their respective leagues - the CCC and the SWBL, and their schools – Franklin Monroe and Dixie. No league title on the line, or district trophy – just two teams battling into the night for the right to walk out of the gym a winner. Intensity is the first word that describes this game. It was the last game of the season for both teams and either team could have take the night off and focused instead on the state tournament next week. But that is not in the DNA of these players – instead they left skin on the floor diving for loose balls and banged bodies under the boards fighting for rebounds.

The first quarter set the tone for the night. It was senior night for Dixie and they put 5 seniors on the floor to start the game. Dixie marched out to an early lead, but the Jets went on a 7-0 run and were up 14-8 at one point. In a theme that would run true the entire night – when one team grew a lead, the other would make a run and catch up. Dixie responded, closed that gap and it was 14-12 at the end of the quarter.

Dixie mixed up their defenses during the night. Using either a man to man or a zone. Meanwhile the Jets used a man to man defense and would alternately apply full court pressure to the Greyhounds. Dixie pulled ahead in the last part of the 2nd quarter. They did a good job of not letting the Jets score in the paint during this run and had a decent 25-20 half time lead.

The second half saw both teams offenses wake up and accelerate the pace. Franklin Monroe more than equaled their 1st half output in the 3rd quarter alone, putting up 21 points. Dixie clung to the lead at the end of the frantic 3rd quarter, but now it was a 1 point game – 42 to 41.

Both teams were playing defense vigorously in the 4th quarter, but Dixie was racking up the fouls and were giving up bonus before the midway point of the quarter. In the 4th quarter and the 2 overtimes Franklin Monroe was a respectable 14 of 16 from the line – that helped keep them in the game. Dixie was up by 2 with about 30 seconds left in the final quarter of regulation, but the Jet's Mason Conley hit a layup to tie the game and send it to overtime – keeping the Jets hopes alive.

In the first overtime it looked like Dixie was going to seal the win when Blake Miller hit a layup with less than 20 seconds left. But the Jet's Ethan Conley knotted the score at 67-all when he scored on a put back as the clock ran out. In the last overtime Franklin Monroe got a little sloppy with their ball handling and gave up some easy turnovers to Dixie who converted them into points. It was senior night for Dixie, but a sophomore cemented the Dixie win. Dixie was up by a point with under a minute left but were able to pad their lead when sophomore Devon Worley was fouled twice in the waning seconds of the game. He sank 2 free throws each trip to put the game out of reach of the Jets 76-71.

“It was an intense game,” remarked coach Williams afterwards, “Franklin Monroe came with some fire. I liked the battle, I liked that the kids dug deep, and in the end we got the stops that we needed and we got the shots that we needed. Blake Miller has been playing phenomenally the last half of the season. He's been playing to his potential and thats what we need for him to do. This is the first time in my 6 years of coaching that I have beaten Franklin Monroe. And it took overtime to beat them.”

And this game was just a precursor – they meet again next week in the 1st round of the state tournament. Dixie and Franklin Monroe will have another battle royale at Northmont Saturday at 6pm. So be prepared for round two, another toe to toe fight to the finish.

Scoring for Dixie: Caleb Rutledge 4, Cody Grubb 8, Austin Simpson 2, Devon Worley 21, Blake Miller 28, Joey Gengler 3, Ethan Arnett 6, Dakota Grice 4.

Upset - North Defeats South in Overtime

North has been on the wrong side of many close games this season. They have had a lot of games slip away from them. It took overtime, but North was able to win a close game and defeat South in a heated contest to end the regular season. The two teams had met at the Shawnee Holiday Tournament earlier in the season where South narrowly beat North. Both teams main scorers – Jacob Bassler for South and Kurt Brinson for North, got their points but it was the players who normally play a secondary role who stepped up for their teams and made a difference.

TCN utilized zone defenses and focused on stopping Jacob Bassler who was held to 10 points. And South focused on stopping Kurt Brinson who had put up 25 points when the teams met the first time. Brinson still put up 16 points – but had to fight hard to get every basket. So both squads needed other players to step up and score.

For North it was sophomore Gabe Brinson just back on the team after an injury. He stepped up his game with 13 points (9 of them in the 2nd half) – and he also had a great 4th quarter when both teams were battling for the lead. Both Mike Meyers and JJ Utz made an impact for South scoring 18 and 16 points respectively. Meyers kept South in the game in the opening round – he was the only South player to score in the 1st quarter.

Coach Augspurger has been troubled with South's slow starts this season. And again South was sluggish in the opening quarter. North took advantage and raced out to an early lead. Augspurger took a timeout and changed up defenses going from a man to man to a trapping zone defense. North meanwhile was using a box and 1 to take Bassler out of the game. North opened up a double digit lead and were up 17-7 at the end of the 1st quarter.

But South's defense began to take it's toll – capturing several turnovers from North. And North must have thought there was a bungee cord on the rim as they failed to hit their shots. South went on a 9-2 run and made up ground rapidly. The South crowd felt the momentum shift and became very vocal during this run. Gabe Brinson finally broke the 4 minute scoring drought for North by hitting a pair of free throws. This sparked North who began to fight back. With 1.8 seconds on the clock Jacob Bassler was fouled and he hit from the line to send South to the locker room with a 26-25 lead.

The second half had several lead changes as the two teams fought for the lead. It looked like North would have the lead going into the last quarter when Zach Edgin hit a 3 point shot. But JJ Utz knifed to the basket for a layup before the buzzer to knot the game at 38 – all.

South started the 4th quarter strong, getting baskets from North turnovers. And midway through the quarter South had a 6 point lead – their largest lead of the quarter. But coach Spitler took a timeout and North gave South some of their own medicine with a 1-3-1 trapping defense. South did not adjust quickly to this and North closed the gap as the clock wound down.

Garret Woodyard was a hero in the end game for North, but came close to being a goat. The gutty senior hit a layup with 8 seconds left to tie the game at 47 apiece and the gym erupted in pandemonium. The overtime was hard fought and again it came down to the last minute with North having to battle back from behind. Gabe Brinson put North on top with a foul shot 53-52. With 16 seconds left Woodyard was fouled – but missed both shots. Amazingly he was fouled a second time and again bricked both shots.

This left the door open for South. Any shot they made could win it and just a free throw would tie it. But on their last possession of the game they failed to get a shot off and the North squad swarmed the court in celebration.

Coach Augspurger commented after the game, “I talked to the team before the game and told them that we had the opportunity to end the season on an upnote, or if we don't then this game would make North's season. North's kids and coach Spitler did a great job – they played with tenacity and made big shots. We also talked about the fact that we are not playing well in the 1st quarters of games. We have not been shooting or defending well in the 1st quarter and we have to play from behind. Tonight we played the defense we were expecting – but we still didn't hit open shots. After the game I told the kids that we are ultimately judged by what we do in the tournament. So we will prepare next week for that.”

“I was happy with the way we competed, we had some good senior leadership,” stated coach Spitler, “Gabe Brinson had a good game, it was his first game coming back from injury. We shot well for the most part, although our free throws got a little shaky at the end. But our defense was key to our win there in the end. It's been a long time since North beat South, so it was a good way to go out for our seniors. It's a good win – we have been on the wrong side of a lot of close games, but our guys did not give up.”

Next he was asked about Garrett Woodyard “He played really well tonight. He did not let those missed free throws get him down. He made some big plays on defense. He's a competitor and has been a factor for us all season.”

Next Saturday both teams will play their opening round tournament games at Troy high school. North plays Tri-Village at 11:00 and South plays Cedarville at 5pm.

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.