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Saturday, February 18, 2012

This past weekend the regular season ended for Ohio High Schools; these were the last games before the state tournament.  Some teams are playing for pride, others are jostling for position in their respective leagues.  Preble Shawnee falls into the playing for pride category.  They are well out of the race in the Buckeye Division,  but were riding a 3 game winning streak against quality opponents. They wanted to play the role of spoiler against Dixie who had a chance to finish in sole possession of second place in their Division. 

Hometown Shawnee raced out to an early lead – showing that they came ready to play.  But Dixie woke up and went to work, going on an 11-0 run.  Andrew Barnett gave Dixie their first lead of night with a trey.  The next possession, Mike Smiley followed up with a trey of his own.  Now it was a 11-6 ball game and Shawnee would have to be the ones playing catch up. The Shawnee zone frustrated the Dixie inside game at times, limiting the Isaacs brother’s touches.  But when Shawnee’s zone got more pressure on the outside shooters after they started hitting their shots, it again opened up the inside game for Dixie. This inside/outside game went back and forth all night.

Noteworthy for Dixie was that a couple of their subs got dinged in the first quarter. Both Landon Hicks and Zach Grubb had to be pulled out the game due to injury.  They both were eventually able to get back into the game, but in the first half it affected Dixie’s substitution pattern - meaning that the starters could not get much of a breather.

In the first half Shawnee was using screens to get their leading scorer, Jake Adams, open.  This was somewhat effective and even when Dixie picked him up coming off a screen, Adams was able to make easy passes to Shawnee post players for baskets.  They also opened up their defense and went to a press.   Dixie countered by throwing a trapping zone at the Arrows, they did this for a few possessions and went back to their man to man.   Dixie had the first quarter lead, and in the second quarter they extended their lead to 10 points. It looked like they might start to run away with the game.  But Shawnee made some plays before the half and closed to within 6 points – 28-34.

The third quarter was more of the same, Dixie trying to shake the Arrows off their tail, but not really being able to extend their lead and run with it.  Again a vigorous Shawnee press took its toll, they closed to within 5 points to begin the 4th quarter.  The Dixie contingent had to begin to feel the heat when Shawnee closed to within 3 points and the Shawnee faithful got vocal.  But Dixie composed themselves and made some plays to re-extend their lead once again.  At the midway point of the last quarter, Dixie had a 6 point lead. 

Shawnee had accumulated a lot of fouls with their aggressive full court defense and now it began to catch up to them.   Each foul now meant a trip to the line for Dixie.  The team shot 12 foul shots in the 4th quarter – and missed only one.  Andrew Barnet had 8 points off of foul shots in the 4th quarter alone.   A weary Shawnee team fought all the way to the wire, but Dixie handled the pressure and closed their regular season with a 62-51 victory and sole possession of second place in the division. Dixie would have 3 players score in double figures – John Isaacs(16), Mike Smiley(13 - 3 3pt shots), and Andrew Barnett(16 - 10 from free throws).

“It seemed like we couldn’t handle prosperity, “  stated coach Creamer after the game, “we got things going the way we wanted them to go and opened up the lead – and then we just relax.  And when we relaxed, they took advantage of it. To their credit, they never stopped playing hard.  They made several runs at us, but to our kids credit they took their best punches and gave it right back. We did struggle to find someone to handle Jake Adams and we had to change our defense in the second half for that reason. The kids executed well and it was effective. “

On Andrew Barnett,”We talked a lot during the season about what good point guards do.  They first make their team mates better, they knock down shots when they have to, and they make free throws in the fourth quarter.  He did all of the things that we talked about at point guard.”

Mike Smiley, “He has been our most consistent shooter over the second half of this season.  Tonight was no exception to that.  He made some big shots and allowed us to open up a first half lead. We’re going to continue to pump him the basketball as he continues to make shots.”

Dixie will play NorthEastern in the state tournament next Saturday at Tecumseh High school 8pm. When asked what he knew about Northeastern coach Creamer responded, “ I am very familiar with NorthEastern, I coached there for 8 years before coming to Dixie. For our players, they look at it as just another game – but NorthEastern is coming into the game looking to prove something. “ 

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