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.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

South Wins at Covington, Loses at Bethel

This week South played 2 games that were the inverse of one another.  Both were away games, but when you look at the scores by quarters, the games were opposites.  The Covington game was rescheduled for Tuesday.  And in that that game a smoking hot South squad exploded for 19 first quarter points while only giving up 4.  Although Covington challenged in the second half, South was able to hold them off for the victory.  Seth Baker had another stellar game with 35 points to lead all scorers. 

But against Bethel the story was different.  The scoring was slow by both squads in the first quarter but Bethel held an advantage – up 10-5.  The Bee’s used a variety of defenses during the night and opened in a man to man, and full court pressure. But by the end of the night they used a 1-2-2 zone to pressure South’s outside shooting.  South closed the distance a bit at the end of the half, and were down by a bucket 21-19.

Bethel’s Patrick Bain would lead all scorers with 26 points.  And so in the third quarter South paid some extra attention to him, putting JJ Utz on him as a chaser and playing a box and one on defense.  But the remainder of the Bethel offense kept pace and didn’t really allow South to make a run.  Jordan Burns got 2 fouls back to back early in the quarter and Seth Baker would get his 4th foul early in the 4th quarter and so 2 of South’s starters were benched.

And in the last quarter, the Bee’s took advantage scoring baskets in transition and slicing to the basket in half court to get easy points.  At the other end of the court, South’s shooting was cold – and Bethel was not giving them many uncontested looks.  It was a frustrating 4th quarter and that was evident when they were called for an intentional foul late in the game.  And in a game that was the antithesis of the game earlier in the week, South gave up 23 4th quarter points and scored only 3.  Bethel would win 59-37.  And Seth Baker, who had been the leading scorer for South, was held to just 7 points.

“They thoroughly outplayed us in the 4th quarter,” stated coach Augspurger after the game, “We put ourselves into position to have a chance to win.  We stayed close in the 1st quarter, we have some of our guys back and we put them in the 2nd quarter and they made up 3 points and actually tied the game at one point.  And in the 4th quarter Bethel just took us out, they played much, much better than what we did.”

On Bethel: “They were quick and athletic when they went into their 1-2-2 zone. Patrick Bain is one of the better players to play in this league.  He is a legitimate recruitable player – he should not have to pay a dime to go to college.  He kept them in it and ahead of us in the first half.  And in the second half we went to a defense that we had not practiced and although we did a good job of chasing Bain, their other guys attacked us.  They used their quickness and spread out our defense to get good looks at the basket.”

Scoring for TVS: Cole 11,Green 9, Osborn 6, Utz 4, Baker 7.  

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

TVS Searching for a Win

The young Twin Valley South Lady Panthers are still searching for their first win of the season.  The team played their best game this week against Milton Union.  But against league rival Tri-County North, the squad was flat and just were not able to generate very much offense.  Meanwhile North’s offense was in high gear and won pulling away.

Against West Milton the team had a bad first quarter.  But recovered somewhat in the second half and played even with the Bulldogs.  But the damage had been done and South wasn’t able to make any sort of a run finally going down 55-40.  Senior Kacy Bolton lead Panther scoring with 13 points and Hailey Keener was also in double figures with 11.  Others scoring for the team:  Megan Wright 2, Madison Wright 6, Emily Hutchings 3, Sydney Vorhis 5.  Against North the team did not score in double figures in any quarter – falling 61-24.  Hailey Keener lead South with 10 points, continuing her streak of games where she has scored at least 10 or more.

“Against West Milton we just turned the ball over too much in the first quarter.” Stated coach Mabry after the game, “The rest of the game we kind of came alive a little bit and fought back. We cut down their momentum but just never could get back to a reasonable point where we had a real shot at mounting a comeback.  It’s a young team and they threw some stuff at the girls that they were not expecting and when you’re young and inexperienced it takes a while for them to adjust – they are still learning.  And Bolton had a good game points wise, it was one of her better shooting games.”

The North game, “I don’t think we were ready to play.  We came out with no energy, we fell behind and couldn’t get anything flowing at all. They pressed us, but we seemed to handle that.  But we really didn’t execute anything at the half court offensively.  And on defense we seemed to be a step slow.”

Looking forward, “Sarah Bingham is back – at least part time from her injury. So that is going to help with numbers,  the girls basically have to play two games in one night [Junior Varsity and Varsity].  The bench is being squeezed, there are some quarters where I do not have a sub because the girls on the bench have no more quarters to give.  But this coming week we have Preble Shawnee and then Jefferson on Saturday and both of them have Varsity only.  That will help me with rotations and keeping girls fresh.”

Sunday, December 08, 2013

South Falls Short Against Valley View

Twin Valley South again is playing shorthanded this week. But they gave a good accounting of themselves against a bigger and deeper Valley View team.  Seth Baker played a whale of a game, scoring 26 points for South a personal career high.   South kept the game close for most of the night and in the last minute made the game exciting as they battled intensely to tie the ball game and force an overtime.  But they were unable to connect and fell just short – 50 to 47.

Valley View was able to play around with their lineups and opened the game with a small, quick lineup. Although the Spartans tried to beat TVS down the court in transition, the scoring was slow in the early going.  So Valley View went to a taller lineup midway thru the quarter. This change made a difference as South was not shooting well from outside and the extra height made a difference on the boards as Valley View got second chance shots.  This gave Valley View a 17 – 10 lead as the first quarter ended with Spartan trey at the buzzer.

When Valley View lengthened their lead to 11 points, Coach Augspurger took a timeout at the two minute mark and the team responded with nice run.  At the break the Spartan lead had been trimmed to 5 points.  The team opened with some sloppy play in the 3rd quarter, giving up some easy turnovers.  And things began to look dicey when Seth Baker, who had been playing well, got his third foul midway through the quarter.  But South was able to stay on the heels of Valley View into the 4th quarter.

In the 4th quarter South made a determined charge at the Spartans.  They closed the gap to a single point about midway through the quarter.  Valley View extended their lead back out and so South who had been in a zone – changed over to full court man to man with 2 minutes left and resorted to fouling.  And Valley View couldn’t find the rim, but South was unable to convert those rebounds into points at the other end of the court.  South had several chances to tie, and although they hit iron – their shots just wouldn’t drop.  

“We were shorthanded and missing several key components,” stated coach Augspurger after the game.  “We’re making changes and making adjustments.  Our players that played did an excellent job. We competed, but we just didn’t rebound well enough. They made some shots and they shot a little better than I expected.  But the biggest thing is that we let them have too many second chances. If we had rebounded better, I think we would have walked out of here with a W. We put ourselves into a position to win it, but we just couldn’t do it there in the last minute. But I am pleased with our effort and I am pleased with our intensity.”

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

TVS Runners Up in Tip Off

Twin Valley South won their season opener against Dixie on Friday night 42-37.  South had two players score in double figures – Seth Baker with 17 and JJ Utz with 12.  For Dixie, Griffen Moore lead the way with 17.  Dixie stayed on the heels of TVS all night but just couldn’t muster a big enough run to surpass TVS.  Head coach Tony Augspurger of South would later remark that the team did a great job of executing their game plan as well as any other team that he had coached.  Dixie would win the consolation the next night against Eaton handily 64-48, a game where their up tempo game and pressing defense smothered the Eagles.

This set up the championship game between Stivers and South.  Stivers crushed Eaton the night before 80-33 using a full court press and fast paced offense.   South entered the game with a short bench – only 2 players.  While Stivers had 7 players that they could swap in and out of the game.  And in the opening moments it looked rough for the home town team.  Their first 4 possessions ended in turnovers, but fortunately for South, Stivers was bricking their shots.  Meanwhile South settled in and began to make a few shots.  And so ended up with the lead at the end of the first quarter 13-9.

Stivers threw a variety of defenses at South – they opened the second quarter with a 1-3-1 half court trap.  But South seemed to handle this fairly well.  But Stivers height began to take its toll as they began to hit the boards for second chance shots.  Meanwhile South’s hot shooting from the first quarter cooled off.   Stivers went on a 20-2 run to close out the half with a commanding 35-17 lead.

South played with Stivers in the  3rd quarter, but didn’t make up much ground.  In the last quarter the team just seemed to run to out of gas and Stivers pulled away for an easy victory 68-46. “I was very proud of the way our kids played with them,” remarked Coach Augspurger after the game. “We made our goal for the week which was to get at least one win with a short handed team.  Tonight we knew we were going to be overmatched.  Stivers is one of the highest rated D3 teams in Southwest Ohio. We wanted to try and win the first quarter and see what happens – and we did that.”

He continued, “We didn’t have enough gas and they jumped us in the second quarter.   And coming out of the locker room we wanted to win the third quarter – and we did by one point.  This is a modified lineup that is small and with very little varsity experience but the kids battled and scrapped.  I am very proud of the effort that they gave. “

“We had success this tournament with our 2-3 zone.  My Dad was eye-balling some college zone defenses last year and taped a lot of them.  We sat down in the off season and looked them over and took notes.  We saw some stuff that we liked, and worked on them with the team.  And the kids are starting to get it.  Every team that we have played they have not overly enjoyed it.  And even Stivers, they weren’t getting great looks in the zone either.  But we have to rebound better than we did tonight. Against Dixie we limited them to one shot, tonight we didn’t do that.”

On JJ Utz and Seth Baker making the all tournament team – “JJ Utz has a chance to be very special, he is learning on the job this year – he is quick, he is hardnosed.  He is an athlete that competes, he has a chance to be a very good high school point guard.  Seth might have pressured himself too much – he knows he has to score for us.  He didn’t shoot as well tonight as we know he can shoot.  But he played really, really well. “

Scoring: Burns 7, Bassler 7, McGuire 2, Osbourne 5, Utz 10, Baker 13.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Dixie 1-1 to Start Season

Dixie played in the TVS Tip Off Tournament this past weekend.  In the opening round they drew host Twin Valley South.  Although they stayed on the heels of South the entire night they were unable to make a strong run to surpass the hosts and lost a close game 42-37.  South rebounded well and their stingy half court defense did not give up many uncontested shots.  Griffin Moore was high points for Dixie with 17.

This set up the consolation game the next night against Eaton, who lost to eventual tournament champs - Stivers.  Dixie plays this season under Isiah Williams, a very vocal, demanding coach who has the team playing at an uptempo pace on offense and a smothering pressing defense.  Eaton definitely could not handle the pressure as they coughed up the ball repeatedly and Dixie converted those turnovers into points.  

Eaton opened with a zone defense, but Dixie was not phased as they connected from the outside.  When Eaton countered with a man to man defense, Dixie was able to cut thru the defense and get shots close to the basket.  And Dixie rebounded well, limiting Eaton to one shot per possession. Dixie ended the first quarter with a 14-4 run.  Eaton got some traction just before halftime with their half court game, but still were down 40-19 at the midpoint of the contest.

In the second half Eaton tried to use the press to catch Dixie off balance.  But the team handled the pressure fairly well.  They gave up some early turnovers, but settled down and went to work.  The team eventually coasted to a 64-48 win.  Dixie distributed their scoring and had 4 double digit scorers - Fisher, Moore, Miller, and Watts.   Senior Griffin Moore was named to the All-Tournament team.  

Coach Williams was asked for comment after the game, "We played a whole lot better today than we did yesterday. We pressured the ball really well. We took them out of the game really early - and that is what we told them to do. The guys ran the floor really well, that is the brand of basketball we want to play.  In the end it got a little chippy, but overall we did a good job.   Our seniors did well tonight - we are going to be a senior lead team. They have to lead on the court, as well as off the court.  We share the ball to a fault sometimes and today we we finished around the rim very well.  We rebounded better tonight and once our injured sophomore, Cody Grubb, gets back we should do even better."

Against South, "We didn't execute well the whole game. They handled our pressure - hats off to Twin Valley South, they did exactly what they needed to do. They kept good pressure on us, and we never came out and attacked them. We were less of an aggressor that game."

Scoring: Fisher 13, Moore 18, Benner 6, Miller 12, Watts 12, Mintz 1, Leonard 1
Rebounding: Benner 7, Watts 5; Steals: Benner 3; Assists: Fisher 5, Moore 5

Stivers won the TVS Tip Off Tournament 68-46 against host Twin Valley South.  Stivers Robert Caldwell was tournament MVP.  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

TVS tip off - CCC vs SWBL

It was ladies first as South hosted their CCC/SWBL tip off this past weekend.  The format was for the two CCC teams to play against both of the SWBL teams.   Night one saw South play Northridge and North play Carlisle.   And opening night was all SWBL as both CCC teams had good first halves in their games only to falter in the second half.  North got some redemption as they beat Northridge on day two, while a young South team struggled to score in the second half of both of their games.

North was up at halftime in their first game against Carlisle 19-14. Senior Jackie Marshal would pace scoring for North with a game high 17 points. But Carlisle’s defense was too high a mountain to climb in the second half as Carlisle slowed down North’s scoring pace and gradually pulled ahead for a 38-32 victory.

On Saturday night, it was clear that Northridge defense was focused on Marshal.  She scored, but not as much as the first night.  Fellow senior point guard, Carly Whitaker, helped make up the difference with a 18 point scoring night. Northridge did hang tough with the Panthers for 3 quarters.  They played mainly zone in the first half and North did try to press the Polar Bears.  This was semi-effective as they did snag some turnovers, but they also gave up a few easy baskets and finally gave up the press and settled into a man to man defense.  

North changed their strategy in the second half.  Their defense was switched to man to man. They began to hit midrange and perimeter shots.  This pulled Northridge out of their zone and into man to man.  Now North was able to cut and open up their offense.   They had a slim three point lead entering the last quarter, but hit the gas pedal down the stretch and won easily 50-38.

This year North is coached by Todd Hutchinson.  He had some comments after the game, “I thought we played really hard, we regrouped from last night.  Tonight we came out fired up, the girls did a good job on defense and rebounding the ball.  In the last quarter, I told the girls how to handle their quicker girls so that they couldn’t drive to the basket.  That made them throw up some outside shots and we out rebounded them.”  On Carly Whitaker, “She did a good job of controlling the game, controlling the tempo.  Getting the girls in the game and in the right spots.  Last night she didn’t score much, but tonight she made some key baskets.”

South is in a rebuilding mode this year with single senior  - Kacy Bolton, and just two juniors  - Abby Horton and Raven Cline.  The balance of the roster is sophomores and freshman, so this year’s campaign will be lead mainly by underclassmen.  And an already thin lineup may be just that much leaner with an injury to sophomore Sarah Bingham on opening night.  The team will be waiting for a medical update this next week.
South stayed within striking distance up to half time in their game against Northridge – down by 7 points at the break.  But a tough 3rd quarter where the team only netted one bucket while Northridge scored 15 made the difference.   South did outscore the Polar Bears in the last quarter, but it was not enough as they fell 45-28.

The game against Carlisle had a similar pattern.  The two teams played cautiously in the first quarter with Carlisle finally going on a 6-0 run to get the scoring started.  But South answered back and finally lead 12-11 in the second quarter.   Carlisle took a time out and went to work.  Using their height and quickness they battled back to close out the half with a 19-13 advantage.  The Indians were able to get a lot of second chance shots with their height advantage.

Carlisle played a more vigorous defense in the second half and got turnovers which they quickly converted into points.  They held South to just 10 second half points and won 47-23.  Coach Mabry had this to say after the game, “We got down early and I took a timeout to settle them down.  And they responded by making a run of their own.  We got back in the game and hung with them.  They made a run at the end of the second quarter and I told the girls at halftime that this is a game of runs and we have to make a run now.”  
He continued, “Two things happened in the second half, we got some open shots, but we couldn’t knock those shots down.  They also got more physical.  This team is young and inexperienced, plus we give up a lot of size and we just got knocked around a little.” He was asked about Hailey Keener, top scorer in both of South’s games, “She works hard, she may not be blessed with height or the best ball handling skills – but she will give you all that she has and will push to get better. “

Next week it is the boy’s turn.  TVS will again be hosting a tournament.  The boys games will feature Stivers, Dixie, Eaton, and of course TVS.  Preliminaries will be in the evening on Friday at 6pm and 7:30.  The consolation game and the championship will be Saturday at 6pm and 7:30pm.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

South Looking to Improve

The Twin South Boys basketball program will try to improve on last season’s  record.  This year the team is almost all seniors and juniors.  And almost all have varsity experience.  Many players have 2 or more years of varsity basketball under their belts. Last year the team had some success, but faded towards the end of the season due to injury.   The team will have good depth at most positions with the exception of post. 
When asked about this season, Coach Augspurger noted that South has had several years of moderate to lackluster success.  “We are in a 5 year drought where we have been right around .500. We’ve had some obstacles, but we have not been able to put together the types of years that we are capable of doing.  With the experience we have coming back, we are hopeful that this will be the type of team that can compete for a conference championship, a sectional or even a district title.  Our goals and expectations are high. “

South basketball is returning a lot of players with varsity experience this season.  They return 4 starters from last year’s team. Notably center Mike Green who is a senior this season.  As well as fellow senior forward Seth Baker .  Anthony Augspurger and Wes Cole – juniors, and both have seen varsity time since their freshman years.  Troy Innis is back as well. But he had an injury plagued season last year.  And the injury bug has bitten again in the preseason and at this time, his return to the team is doubtful.   Augspurger had been injured during summer basketball,  but reports are that he will be good to go for the winter campaign.
Players who saw significant varsity playing time last season and are expected to contribute again this season are JJ Utz and Jordan Burns.   Zane Cottingim, who missed all of last season with a knee injury, will help round out the varsity roster as well as Jacob Bassler – who was the top scorer on the JV team last year.   So South will have a variety of offensive weapons.  Coach Augspurger noted that Jake Osbourne will see some varsity time this season as well. 

South will be hampered at the start of the season as several student athletes violated the schools code of conduct and so will be suspended from the team in the early portion of the season.   They will miss the first 5 games of the season. So it will be tough to get early momentum since they will be playing with a handicap.  With Innis questionable and several other starters out, South will be shorthanded.  The team will start their season Thanksgiving weekend with a Tip Off Tournament at South.  The games will start Friday, November 29th.  The South girls will start by hosting their own Tipp Off tournament the week before on Friday, November 22nd.  So the next few weekends will be all the basketball you can eat at the TVS gymnasium. 

Sunday, November 10, 2013

North Season Ends

Tri-County North's season did not end the way that they had hoped.  Their first round playoff game was against Miami East - a CCC league team that had battled North to overtime in the regular season and won by 3 points.  So the the rematch was expected to be another battle. But instead Miami East dominated North.  In the first half they scored on almost every possession while holding North to a series of three and outs.  North had a good drive at the end of the half to score. Then the inspired defense held East and North got the ball back again with a little over a minute left.  But that drive ended at about the 25 of  Miami East with about 10 seconds left when a defender picked off a pass in the endzone.  That was as close as North came to mounting a comeback as Miami East kept using both the pass and run to keep North's defense off balance in the second half and only allowed a second TD in the waning minutes of the game.  Miami East wins their first playoff game 38-14 and advances to the second round.

North didn't seem like the team that went toe to toe with undefeated Covington and gave them the best game that they had all season.  After that game the team seemed to realize that they were vincible. North was 1 for 3 in their last three regular season games and had a tough outing against Miami East in this playoff game.  Still they had a winning season and were playing in week 11 when a lot of teams were sitting home.  Looking forward they only graduate a handful of seniors, and return a boatload of starters.  4 year starting quarterback Austin Hutchins will be hard to replace, but North under Derringer seems to be in a reload, not rebuild status.  So expect the team to continue to do well next season.

Miami East seems to have caught a rhythm and are peaking at the right time - in the post season.  They are playing tough defense, and the offense has multiple weapons that they can use. Miami East and Covington will carry the CCC banner in week 12.  The Covington/Marion Local game will be a battle royale.  Will this be the season that Covington advances in the playoffs past a MAC team? If they do, it won't be easy. Marion had some injuries towards the end of the season, but word is that those injured players will be back for the Covington game.  But this will be the game to watch come Friday.

Trail lost their opening round game to a tough Mechanicsburg team. But it has been a record setting season for Trail, the seniors can look back with pride on a successful season. And the the underclassmen have this winter to work on where they need to be next year.  South has shown signs of life.  And with a few breaks, they could have been a playoff team.  They had some winnable games in the loss column.  So congrats for coach Tyler Cates for putting South back on the map.  Mississinewa is showing signs of life.  The patient is still on the gurney, but they stopped their losing streak.  The team still needs numbers, but Graher has had success in the past with the BlackHawks.

Friday, November 01, 2013

Trail Makes a Statement

National Trail made a statement Friday night against North. Coming into the game as a playoff bubble team, they needed a win to ensure that they would make the playoffs. And all this season the talk has been about the top three teams in the Cross County Conference for the past few years: Covington, Miami East, and North.  Trail has been on the outside looking in - despite their record, they have not been getting the respect that those teams command.  Like a gunslinger they used all their bullets against North: fake punt, passing on 1st down from their own 12, then going for and making a critical 2 point conversion.  A scrappy team and gutsy play calling combined to give Trail an upset win against North 15-12.

In the first quarter it was a flag festival as it seemed that both teams accumulated more yardage in penalties than in yardage.  Either the players or the referee's adjusted as the flags didn't seem to fly as much after the first quarter. Trail had a great runback by Devin Mize to midfield and they visited the redzone and actually scored twice - but penalties nullied the TD's. Finally they turned over the ball on downs with nothing to show for their efforts.  North meanwhile went to work and scored on a 2 yard run by Garret Woodgeard.  The score was set up by a Austin Johnson catch on the 19 yard line.  But on the extra point, there was a flag that moved the ball back to the 8. Then a messed up kick attempt made North try to run the ball in and that failed. 

North's lead was shortlived as Trail scored quickly on their possession with a 65 yard touchdown pass. They made their extra point and Trail led 7-8 as the teams entered the second quarter. Trail seemed to move the ball with short passes to the flats, mixing in an occassional run. They were able to get the ball inside the red zone but a penalty left them in long yardage. They tried a field goal, the ball had the distance but hit the goal post.  That was the only scoring opportunity by either team in the second quarter. North was blitzing more often and were pressuring the quarterback.

The second half was where I was impressed with Trail.  When I compared sidelines - North had a lot more depth.  So Trail was playing iron man football with a lot of players going both ways. So conventional wisdom was that Trail would wear down in the second half, but they were scrappy throughout. And in their opening drive, it seemed that indeed North was going to grind them down.  Using almost exclusively the run they had a clock chewing drive to the 32 yard line where Garrett Woodyard caught an Austin Hutchins pass for North's second score, but the 2 point conversion failed.  Still North lead 12-7.  North's strategy seemed to be to utilize the run to keep Trails potent offense off the field.

Neither team did much in the remainder of the 3rd quarter, Trail had a good defensive stand and made North turn over the ball on downs at the Trail 28.  They moved the ball to midfield and early in the 4th quarter they did a fake punt and got the first down. When you are trying to get into the playoffs, you do what it takes.  They moved the ball to the redzone and a North sack seemed to knock them back - but a roughing call on the same play advanced the ball.  And on that same drive with a 4th and a long one at the goal line, Trail scored a touchdown pass.  They went for two and made it that gave them a 15-12 lead.  

North got the ball with about 4 minutes left on the scoreboard.  Then used a clock eating drive to advance the ball deep into Trail territory. Austin Johnson made a nice catch to put the ball on the 12. But here the drive stalled.  And with 23 seconds left, 4th and 2, North elected to go for the tie with field goal. It was not a good night for kickers as the ball sailed wide left. Trail took the victory formation and celebrated their best season ever.  

Trails spread offense was effective.  They did run the ball somewhat, but I would imagine that the bulk of their plays are passes.  Their quarterback, Garrett Griffen, took a pounding.  North really started to bring the heat. But he picked himself up and got himself ready for the next play. Trail's program has been constantly at the bottom of whatever league it has been in for decades.  It is tough when you can count the number of winning seasons for your school with one hand, and still have fingers left over. Well that has changed, no matter what happens in the playoffs the coach and the team can be proud of earning everyones respect this season. 

Saturday, October 26, 2013

North Prevails Against South

Twin Valley South Played with North for 3 quarters.  Both teams have playoff aspirations, South desperately needed the win to keep their slim playoff hopes alive and North needed to cement their place in the top 8 of the district. The halftime score was 14-7 in favor of North. And entering the 4th quarter it was a two score game, 20-7. Then the wheels fell off as North's stalwart defense held South to that touchdown on the night and scored on a Colton Boothe interception. The offense went to work and that resulted in a 35-7 victory for North.  South was able to move the ball, but just when they sniffed the red-zone, North put up a defensive stand and made them turn over the ball on downs.  South had several good drives that died inside the 30 yard line of North.

It was senior night for TVS since it was their last home game. And they honored their seniors by entering the field from the East end of the stadium as the teams used to do years ago.  The senior players entered the field as a unit and the underclass players lined up with the band to form an entrance for them.

North found the endzone first on a 31 yard touchdown pass from Hutchins to Austin Johnson.  But South answered right back. Jordan Burns returned the North kick off to about the North 35.  And 2 plays later Joe Webb scored on a 33 yard touchdown run.  It was game on.  The teams battled back and forth for the remainder of the first half. Late in the second quarter Wes Cole was able to pick off an Austin Hutchins pass, but a North sack on third down forced South to punt.  North began their last drive of the half at the TVS 43 yard line and after advancing the ball, Hutchins threw a 25 yard strike to Austin Elmore.  This gave North their 14-7 halftime lead.

In the second half, it looked like South might be able to strike early.  Darren Brown intercepted a North pass and gave South the ball at the North 37.  But North forced South to give up the ball on downs at the 25. North must have made some halftime adjustments, because their running game improved in the second half and Colton Booth was able to run 40 yards for a North score.  Late in the 3rd quarter South again threatened, but North stopped this drive at the 26.

So as the teams entered the last quarter it was still a close game 20-7 in favor of North.  But the game went into a downward spiral in a hurry for South. North had been forced to punt and South had the ball in good field position at the 47 yard line. But a South pass was picked off by Colton Booth and ran back 85 yards for a touchdown. So that play was a 14 point swing - instead of South getting the ball at about the 15 in the redzone and a chance of making it a one score game, North got the score and made it a 3 touchdown lead.

This seemed to take the wind out of South's sails.  Austin Hutchins padded the score with a punt return to the 11 yard line where it seemed like every South Panther got a hand on him, but couldn't bring him down. Then he passed for a 10 yard TD reception to Austin Johnson.  So North makes their playoff hopes more definite and have pretty much dashed South's chances. But North battles another team next week with playoff ambitions in National Trail, while South travels to play the beast in the East as in Miami East.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Vikings Defeat Panthers in Overtime

In the early going North seemed to dominate. They used two clock eating drives to go up 14-0 early in the 2nd quarter.  But any thoughts that Miami East would just tuck tail and fade away were quickly dashed as they bounced back to tie the score.  And North had to go to the air as Miami East began to smother the running game.  Meanwhile Miami East was able to get chunks of yardage through the pass themselves. And although North lead at halftime 21-14, the East defense closed them out in the second half.  Finally tying the game in the 4th quarter.  The game went to overtime and East won the toss and elected let North go first. North was unable to score and East kicked about a 20 yard field goal to seal the win 24-21.

North really dominated the first quarter. They used the run almost exclusively to grind out yardage against East.  The first two scores were by quarterback Austin Hutchins.  Then East bounced back - they returned a kickoff to the North 34 and worked the short field for a score.  Later a Miami East punt was muffed by North and again they worked the short field for a touchdown.  The 14 all tie was broken by Garrett Woodyard who carried the ball in from 8 yards to put North up 21-14.

The Miami East defense pretty much took away the run in the second half, and North's offense sputtered. And when two closely matched teams are playing, a lot of times the team that makes the fewest mistakes will win.  North had a break down on special teams to set up the first East score, the second score was by a muffed punt reception, and the tying touchdown likewise was set up by a fluke play by North. Set up to punt the ball was snapped over the punters head.  The punter ran back to the endzone and got the ball and then was actually able to get the punt off.  But with all the scrambling, the coverage again broke down and East returned the ball all the way to the 8 yard line where they scored a few plays later to tie the game at 21 all.

The North defense put some heat on the Miami East offense and were able to rush the quarterback effectively and sacked him several times. And that seemed to slow down the success that East had with the pass. So neither team was moving the ball well the rest of the 4th quarter. And the game went to overtime where the Miami East defense pretty much held North in place for 4 plays.  And when it was their turn they moved the ball to about the 10 where they put the game in hands of their place kicker who cooly iced a 20 yard field goal for the hard earned victory.

This game was fight for second place in the CCC and more importantly for homefield advantage in the playoffs.  Miami East controls their destiny with 2 games left in the season.  North has to make sure they win out to make the playoffs.  North plays at South next week, while East travels to Bradford.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

TVS Hangs on for Win

It was not the prettiest game played this season.  But win's do not come with style points.  South hung on in the last seconds of the game to hold off Bethel for a 15-7 win.  At times South seemed determined to hand over the game to the Bee's with mistimed penalties - one that negated a hook and ladder play to the 2 yard line and several that took away field position when South got a hand on a punt and got the ball at the Bethel 35.  That series actually took the Panthers backward with 2 penalties.  But South was able to find the endzone twice and the defense fell on a Bethel fumble in the last minute to end Bethels efforts at a tie and overtime.

There was plenty of pink on the field as South hosted a cancer awareness night.  The cheerleaders released balloons and gave flowers to breast cancer survivors in a pregame ceremony.  The pass was not kind to TVS against Bethel. At one point in the first half South had dropped back to pass 6 times. The result was 4 scrambles as the quarterback was chased out of the pocket, one incomplete pass, and one interception.  There were 3 interceptions thrown in the first half by my count.  But the running game got traction, particularly in the second half when they seemed to grind down the Bethel defense. Joe Webb was churning out chunks of yardage in between the tackles. But when you give up offensive penalties it puts you in long yardage situations where you have to chuck the ball up in the air.

South's first score was set up by a Bethel offsides on 4th down. South was in a punt formation and an over eager Bethel defender jumped to give South a fresh set of downs and they continued their drive to the 2 yard line where Wes Cole drove it in for the lead.  The extra point snap was muffed and South did not get their extra point.

South had a frustrating drive that began when Jordan Burns recovered a Bethel fumble at the Bethel 38. Then Cole was sacked and a penalty put the Panthers into long yardage.  South successfully ran the hook and ladder play with Burns getting all the way to the 2 yard before being drug down.  But another hold penalty took away all the yardage.  South was then intercepted when they took to the air again and Bethel promptly drove the ball into the endzone for their touchdown. So a drive that South should have scored on, instead handed the ball to Bethel where they drove instead for the lead. Bethel made their extra point and had a 7-6 lead that they took into the locker room at half time.

Darren Brown gave South a shot at another score when he got a hand on a punt and South got the ball at the Bethel 35.  But Bethels defense make a vigorous stand and South had to turn over the ball on downs after 4 plays.  This time of year with the warm days and cool nights, dew will form on the grass in the evening.  So although there was no rain the conditions were slick on the field as the teams entered the last quarter.  A bad Bethel snap put the ball into the endzone where the ball was booted out of the endzone to give South a safety.  Then a few series later a bad snap on a punt gave South the ball in good field position. Cole scored on a 6 yard run to give South a 15-7 lead.

Bethel had one of their best drives of the night with about 4 minutes left in the game.  They combined the pass and run to keep South off balance and moved the ball down to about the 4 yard line. There was a little over a minute left in the game.  They ran an option and the pitch to the halfback fell to the ground.  And a Panther defender was able to fall on the ball and end the Bethel attempt at a tie and over time.  Although there was some confusion towards the end and it seemed that South's offense would never run out the clock for the win.

South improves to 5 and 2 on the season.  Bethel is 2 and 5.  South goes thru the 3 heavy weights of the CCC to end their season - Covington, Miami East, and TCN.  All three teams have been dynamos this year. They need to be able to knock off at least one of these teams to have any kind of shot at the playoffs and a winning season.