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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. “ 

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Shawnee Duels South

The first matchup between Shawnee and South was exciting where the game’s outcome wasn’t decided until late in the 4th quarter.  Round two would also be closely contested game where the neighboring schools would go toe to toe for 4 quarters.  However, this time South was playing with a handicap.  Senior and leading scorer Johnny Meyers would be watching the game from the sidelines.  He had injured his leg in the game against Tri-County North and has not been able to play since.  Speaking to him before the game – his injury is day to day.  His return to the court is expected, but no idea as to exactly when.

South got an early advantage, but Shawnee made up the difference and then some – leading the game 15-13 at the end of the first quarter.  South repeated their defense from the first matchup – a box and one with the extra attention going to Jake Adams.  Shawnee used a couple of zone variations (2-3,1-3-1) and then mixed in a little full court pressure to keep South off balance.

It was a one point game at half time.  And that was the type of game that it was – two teams going toe to toe for 4 quarters. Neither team could go on a long scoring run and they swapped the lead time after time, the lead not being much more than 2-3 points at any one time for either team.  It was close to a stalemate. 

In the 4th quarter it was a one point game at the 6:30 mark in favor of Shawnee. In an effort to break the stalemate, South went to a man to man defense.  But Shawnee was able to adjust and South couldn’t get an advantage.  But the game broke open on a pair of old fashioned 3 point plays late in the game.  Shawnee’s Matt Buell threw up a shot that dropped and he was fouled.  Buell completed the three point play by making his foul shot.  Then Jake Adams drove the basket, and likewise was fouled and made his shot.

Suddenly Shawnee had some breathing room – a 7 point lead.  It was at the 02:30 mark and Coach Gerken took a timeout to set up the end game for his team.  The strategy worked out as South was unable to close to gap in the waning minutes – fouling sent Shawnee shooters to the foul line where they put the game away.  At the final buzzer it was 62-54 Shawnee, a reversal of their earlier game.

“South has a really nice team regardless of who they have on the floor -they have a lot of really good shooters,” commented Shawnee coach Gerken, “They can extend your defense because you have to defend Cottingim and Innis.  As soon as you extend, then they go inside to Green.  In the first half I didn’t think we did a very good job of hitting the glass, Green had 10 rebounds. So we adjusted to take that away.”
He continued, “We kept fighting back and forth the entire game, I was proud of way our kids kept fighting back.  We made some key half time adjustments and they worked out for us. It made them change what they were doing. Overall it was a competitive game, I was really happy with the effort.”

On David Willoughby, “In the first half, he got into early foul trouble and was pretty much a nonfactor. But in the second half, he was aggressive and got after it. He did a nice job of making open jump shots when we called upon him.  He did a nice job of keeping Green off the glass as well.  And Jake Adams came on in the second half. This is probably the best he’s played against the box and one.  Give South credit – he had to work for every one of his shots.”

Scoring for TVS: Baker 7, Cole 5, Cottingim 9, Green 17, Guehring 2, Innis 13; Scoring for Shawnee: Adams 14, Buell 9, Elam 4, Hocker 6, Letner 8, Mann 6, Willoughby 15.

Shawnee Defense Too Much for South

It has been a tough season for both Twin Valley South and Preble Shawnee’s girls basketball teams.  Shawnee had been fighting injuries all season and had only gotten back to full strength at the end of season.  Only to have the flu bug take away 3 players for their previous game against Dixie. South did not have the services of post player Gentry Gates due to injury.  Both teams entered the season finale looking for a victory to give them a boost before the state tournament begins next week.

Defensively both teams began with zone defenses.  It quickly became apparent that part of Shawnee’s strategy was to put a lid on the South inside game by double teaming Katie Strazheim who was South’s remaining post player.  At the other end of the court Shawnee was getting points in the paint and quickly ran a 14-5 lead at the end of the first quarter.

South went to a man to man defense in an effort to stem the tide.   But Shawnee continued to hit their shots,  Cheyenne Edwards had a good quarter – hitting several layups and short jumpers.  Turnovers would plague South throughout the game.   And a good many of those turnovers became Shawnee points as they took advantage of the gifts.  It was hard for South to create any offense. Their outside shots were not falling while the inside game continued to be frustrated.

In the second half Shawnee mixed in some zone and man to man defense to keep South off balance.   At the end of the third quarter they still had a healthy lead 36-20.  South went to a press in an effort to make up the difference.  They made up a little ground, but Shawnee would have none of that and did some half court trapping and some pressing of their own.  The pressure became too much for South to handle and Shawnee ran away with the lead and the ball game, winning 50-31.

“We just didn’t come out ready to play”, Commented South coach Mabry, “we talked about it at halftime and said we are putting out a lackluster effort. We like to have these nights where we play all day basketball against another school.  But every time we just aren’t ready to play.”

On not having Gates, “ When we have Gentry Gates and Katie Strazheim in there they complement each other. When you have two threats in the post it helps us out. Every time Katie got the ball tonight, they doubled down on her.  It definitely took out an option that we like to have.”

Shawnee coach Joe Webster, “Aggressive defense is what it comes down to - being able to trap and put pressure on the ball. Our goal was to double down on their post player and trap their perimeter players anyplace we could.  We had a lot of steal and goes – that’s what the traps do.  Courtney Lakes had 20 points, Cheyenne Edwards had 14 points, and Sidney Brown had 11.  “

He continued, “Coming into this week we had to practice with 4 and 5 kids because of the flu bug. But we have been down a good part of the year with injuries.  Lakes was out for 7 games, she just came back full strength last week. Steele went down the third game of the year, she was out until the 13th game.  This has been the first game where we came out and did what we do. “

State Tournament matchups: Next week TVS plays Covington at Brookville High School at 2pm. Shawnee plays Hamilton Badin at 5pm at Monroe High School