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Sunday, February 14, 2016

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.

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