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Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament - All Tournament Team

2014 Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament
All Tournament Team

Anthony Augspurger, Wes Cole, JJ Utz, Trey Smith, Thomas Buell

North Falls Short Against Talawanda

It was a tough two days for North in the Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament. They struggled against the host team Preble Shawnee, but had a shot at a win against Talawanda. After leading a good bit of the way, North would slip at the end and lose to the Braves 44-37.  Still there were some bright spots – one in Ryan McAdams who would lead the team in scoring both nights.

North played Shawnee first and the host team got out to an early lead and didn’t look back. The Arrows converted North turnovers into points and other wise seemed to score at will.  Rebounding wise, an outsized North seemed to hold their own on the defensive boards, but couldn’t pull down many offensive boards – limiting themselves to one shot most possessions.  

Shawnee lead 39-15 at the half.  Coming out of the break McAdams hit two treys on back to back to possessions, prompting Shawnee to take a time out and get more pressure on the perimeter.  That dampened any thoughts of a comeback and North would later fall 68-42.  McAdams accounted for half of North’s points with 21 – including 4-3 pointers.

This set up the consolation game as Talawanda and North squared off the next night.  Both teams began the game in man to man defenses.  The Braves peeled off two quick baskets, and North took a quick time out to adjust their defense.  A hustling North ran the court thereafter.  Generating turnovers and gaining the lead.  At the end of one quarter, North was up 15-12.

North missed some shots down the stretch at the close of the second quarter, but still held a narrow lead 21-20.  Talawanda’s strategy coming back onto the court was to feed the ball to the post.  This gave the Braves the lead again at the 5 minute mark of the 3rd quarter. North adjusted and then started to hit their shots.  McAdams hit a trey to give North the lead again and the team finished the quarter strong with a 36-30 lead.

North became more deliberate with the offense late in the last quarter.  Not a slow down, but the team was working the ball around more than they had earlier in the game in an attempt to milk time off of the clock.  But when they did get a shot, they couldn’t finish.  Meanwhile Talawanda was hitting their shots as the teams battled to the finish line.  At the 2:33 mark it was now a one point game.  Then a minute later, Talawanda had the lead.  North missed a lot of shots during this critical juncture. And this time the Braves would not let North back in the game as they completed the evening with a 44-37 win.

Scoring for North: McAdams 11, Louthen 10, Edgin 9, Cordes 4, Woodyard 3.

It comes down to a problem that we have with a lot of our games.  We just can’t rebound the basketball,” stated coach King after the game. “The kids played hard, as hard as they have played all year. Defensively we could not finish possessions out on the boards.”

Ryan McAdams: “He’s starting to settle down and buy into what we are preaching to him.  That is let the game come into him instead of trying to force everything.  But he stepped up really good for us.”

Next he was asked about Jacob Louthan playing well off the bench, “He hustles, he can still be a little timid at times – but that goes back to a lack of varsity experience.  He can shoot the ball pretty good.  Once he gets rolling, he can he can fill it up.  He did a good job of coming off the bench and giving us an extra scorer.”

TVS - Holiday Tournament Champs

South won the Holiday Tournament hosted by Preble Shawnee.  The team used a tenacious defense and an up-tempo offense to pave the way to success.  Although outsized, the team hustled to pull in long rebounds and get points off of turnovers as they fought their way to victory in both games. The team also placed several players on the All-Tournament team that was announced after the championship game.

First up for South was Talawanda.  They are a bigger school from the South West Ohio Conference and so they play a schedule against mainly Division 2 schools.  But South was aggressive from the get-go, using a variety of defenses to keep the Braves from settling into their offense.  They used a full court man to man for a time, then also used a half court trap.   Towards the end of the first quarter Talawanda tried to do some trapping of their own.  But South had already raced to a 21-10 lead.

South was unrelenting – leading 30 – 12 at one point as they continued to run the court in the second quarter.  The Braves could not keep pace with the Panthers and they finally fell 59-32.  South was unselfish in this game as the team combined for 17 assists on the night.  Wes Cole (17) and Anthony Augspurger (13) lead the team in scoring.  Augspurger and JJ Utz had 5 assists while Cole had 3.  Augspurger lead the teams in steals with 6.

This set up the championship game against Preble Shawnee, who had defeated North handily the night before.  The game would be the offensive firepower and physical size of Shawnee against the stalwart defense and up-tempo offense of South.  Both teams utilized a variety of defenses during the game.  Shawnee started the night in a zone, while South opened in their man to man defense.
South had a slim lead in the first quarter, but extended that lead in the second quarter as they hit their shots and were able to run the court on several possessions. Shawnee tried to half court trap to start the second quarter, but it had no effect on South. At the half, it was 25-16 in favor of South.

Shawnee stayed on the heels of South throughout the third quarter – gradually chipping away at the lead.  After a time out, South switched to a zone late in the quarter in an effort to stymie the Shawnee offense. But Shawnee hit a buzzer beater right at the end of the quarter from half court to make it a 4 point game, then Kevin Ketring hit another trey to start the 4th quarter and suddenly it was a one point game.  South’s offense had grown cold, they were struggling to score and the momentum seemed to have gone to the Arrows.

Shawnee switched to a man to man defense and also got the lead at the 6:36 mark.  Augspurger scored a basket and got the lead back for the Panthers.   Shawnee again made it a two point game and then went to full court pressure with a minute left.  But South handled the pressure well – and with Shawnee having to foul to get the ball back – South sank their foul shots when it counted.  Both Cole and Augspurger hit some clutch shots from the foul line to seal the 49-42 victory for South.

Wes Cole and JJ Utz made the all-tournament team, while Anthony Augspurger was named tournament MVP. Scoring: Winston Crosier 4, Cole 12, Augspurger 16, Osborn 6, JJ Utz 9, Jason Utz 3. Leading rebounders:  Jacob Bassler 5, Cole 6, Augspurger 4.  Leading assists Cole 4, JJ Utz 4. Leading steals: JJ Utz 4, Wes Cole 3.

“We know that our ticket to victory is our defense,” stated coach Augspurger afterwards, “we are not really big, we’re not skilled enough.  But we are hardnosed, we’re tough – they are 8 kids that bust their tails.  Against Talawanda last night we took them out of whatever offensive scheme they tried to do.  Tonight they showed a lot of grit. Shawnee made a good run.  They actually came back and took the lead.  And we could have cracked then, but we didn’t crack.  Our seniors stepped up big in the 4th quarter.  Anthony Augspurger and Wes Cole made some shots then for us and got us back in the lead. “

The improved offense, “We have been doing a lot of shooting. A lot of these guys are 3 sport athletes, they aren’t gym rats.  We are probably shooting more than almost any team around.  But I know that if our shooting comes around, we have the potential to be very good. We know the defense is there, we are going to guard you, we need the offense to get better.” 

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

South over Bucc's

Twin Valley South had one last game before Christmas.  They hosted the Covington Buccaneers in a CCC matchup.  Although Covington played tough against TVS, South gradually grew a lead.  The Bucc’s made a 4th quarter run, but South held them off, then made a run of their own to seal a 64-47 victory.

Covington started in a man to man defense, but switched to a zone and remained in that through much of the game.  South did press some in the early going, but called it off and settled into a half court defense.  In the first quarter, Covington was right there with the Panthers – knotting the game at 13-all.

South’s offense got into gear in the second quarter and they were able close out the half with a 7 point lead.   In the third quarter, South actually had a  lead in double figures, but Covington woke up and closed the gap.   Covington started to make a 7-0 run in the 4th quarter and it was enough to where South could feel the heat, but coach Augspurger called a time out, and South returned to the court to make a run of their own and again extend their lead and cruise down the stretch to victory. 

The win puts South at 3-2 on the season, with the Holiday tournament at Shawnee their next test.
“I thought our defense was outstanding, commented Coach Augspurger afterwards, “We played good defense for several stretches.  We had a few 3-4 minute periods where we did not allow any points.  Now we weren’t quite as good as what I would have liked for the whole game, but overall we did really well.”

He continued, “Offensively, Anthony Augspurger had a really good game for us, he was 8 of 9 shooting, including 2 3 point shots. He scored 20 points and that is a career high for him.  JJ Utz, our point guard had only 1 turnover and 7 assists.  That was a big key for us – running the offense and not turning the ball over.  We have struggled shooting at times this season, but this game I thought we shot well.  Now we didn’t shoot great, but I thought we did a good job of attacking the basket. Wes Cole still struggled with his three, but finished strong around the basket.  And he played a good floor game with 7 boards and 4 assists. Jake Osborn did a great job on the offensive boards.  He had two big put backs that we needed.

Talawanda: “I have their tape, but have not watched it.  I do know that they have struggled this season, but they play a really good schedule.  And I know Shawnee got off to a slow start – but they have a good shooter back now and have won some games.  We will have to keep playing better to have a chance in this one.”

South scoring: Jacob Bassler 6, Winston Crosier 5, Wes Cole 18, Anthony Augspurger 20, Jake Osborn 7, JJ Utz 3, Josh Cottingim 5. Leading Rebounders: Jacob Bassler 7, Wes Cole 7, Anthony Augspurger 7, Jake Osborn 5. Steals: Jacob Bassler 2.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dixie Over North

After getting their first win of the season against Eaton, Dixie hit a losing streak.  They lost against Waynesville(53-52),  rival Brookville(67-49), and Northridge(80-37). So they were hoping to get back on track before entering Christmas break. This weekend they visited Preble County where they played against Preble Shawnee and Tri-County North.

Shawnee also had only a single win coming into the game.  And although the game was closely contested, Dixie would lose Friday night at Shawnee 47-52.  This set up their 3rd road game in a row Saturday against North who is winless on the season.

Dixie had an overall height advantage over North.  In the half court they used a zone early on, but would switch to man to man in the second quarter and would stay in that defense most of the game. They did mix in some ¾ court trapping which was semi effective.  They garnered a few turnovers but it was effective in that was able to slow down the North offense.

Dixie got an early lead and seemed poised to run away with the game in the first quarter with a 15-6 lead.   But North went on a run late – just before half time and made the game competitive.  With 2 minutes left it was a 3 point game with Dixie’s margin slimmed to 3 points.  But Dixie went on a run of their own at that time and closed the half with a more comfortable 30-21 lead.

Coming out at halftime it was plain to see that their strategy was now to utilize their height and feed the post.  Cody Grubb was the recipient of the extra attention to the post – scoring 20 of his game high 29 points in the second half.  North just could not seem to be able to stop Grubb inside.
North did make another run at Dixie in the third quarter.  They got the game to within 5 points midway through, but Dixie held them off and again extended their lead, this time into double digits. 

North pulled out all the stops – doing some full court man to man, switching to a zone defense. But the game seemed to spiral out of control in the 4th quarter.  Dixie was able to win running away with a 61-47 win. Still North was able to play with Dixie at times and made the game competitive.
TCN Coach King: “Even though we lost, I thought that the team made huge strides tonight.  It was quite a reverse in 24 hours.  We’re young and the late start didn’t help, so I have to have a lot of patience.  They have come a long way and I think that we are getting better. “

Damon Nelson, “He came off of the bench and got big points for us.  He’s been proving himself in practice and shows that he is capable of staying in front of the ball on defense.  And right now that is what we need – someone who can stay in front of the ball.  He’s worked hard and he got time tonight. His defense is what got him his minutes – the points are just icing on the cake.”

Dixie Scoring: Rutledge 1, Leonard 9, Simpson 4, Hale 9, Miller 6, Keiras 1, Rader 4, Grubb 29.

TCN Scoring: Louthan 6, Edgin 14,Cordes 7, Nelson 12, Woodyard 8.

North Dropped by Trail

Tri-County North dropped two games this weekend.  And to add to their dismay, both games were at home. They played against National Trail – a league foe who was also winless coming into the game and Dixie who was 1-5.   Against Trail they actually lead at one point, but when Trail put their foot down on the accelerator and picked up the pace of the game, they rapidly outscored North.   

The first quarter of the game was very slow paced as the two teams cautiously sparred against one another.  North had 8 fouls to Trails 2 near the end of the first quarter, so they were racking up fouls at too fast of a pace.  Still North managed to hold a 10-9 lead as the teams re-entered the court for the second quarter.   North scored a bucket early in the quarter, but then Trail went on a run and blew the game open.  North simply could not score – they must have thought that there were bunjee cords on the rim.  Jacob Louthen connected on a couple of free throws before halftime to stop the lopsided run, but North was staring at a double digit deficit going to the locker room 30-13.  

So what had been a close game had been blown wide open.  North continued to shoot cold in the second half, that and turnovers stymied them on offense.  Meanwhile the Blazers continued their scoring rate unabated. 58-35 was the final score.

“Friday night was a defensive breakdown for us. We allowed them to score 41 points in just 3 quarters. It comes down to stopping the ball.  We need to take pride in stopping the ball, we are capable of scoring, but we need to get stops. A good defense can translate into easy buckets for us.”
Scoring for North: Louthan 4, McCollough 2, Edgin 3, Cordes 8, Nelson 6, Vanbrederode 2, Ballard 2,Woodyard 8.

North next plays against Miami East, then will be in the annual holiday tournament hosted by Preble Shawnee.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

North Opens Season in Indiana

With North’s football season being extended by their playoff run, the start of the basketball season was delayed.  So while all the other area teams started a week earlier, this last Saturday marked the opening of the season for the Panthers.  Their opponents were the Seton Catholic Cardinals in Richmond, Indiana.  A team that had already played a handful of games and so were battle tested. Also to add to the difficulty level, North only returns 3 players with varsity experience from last year’s season.  So for many of North’s roster, this was their first varsity game.

With a taller team, the Cardinals packed into a 2-3 zone and dared the Panthers to shoot from outside.  The Panthers couldn’t settle into a groove on offense.  They had some opening night ball handling problems at times, so turnovers didn’t help their cause.  But although they hit the rim most of the night, they had problems getting their shots to drop.  And with their height advantage, Seton was hauling in most of the rebounds, limiting the Panthers to just one shot attempt.

At the other end of the court, the Panthers struggled to find an answer for Desmond Bane, an athletic player for Seton, who would score 26 points on the night – almost half of their points.  This despite sitting out the 4th quarter.  He could drive the ball to basket – and Seton did run an old school NBA style clear out play for him.  But he could also pull up and drain a 3.  North started in a man to man defense, but switched to a zone.  But neither defense slowed down the pace of Cardinal scoring. 
By games end the score was 58-28 in favor of the Cardinals.  Their record is now 5-1, while North is 0-1. Scoring for North: MacAdams 6, Louthan 5, McCullough 4, Edgin 4, Cordes 3, Woodyard 4, Vanbroderode 2.

“We did all right in the first quarter, but we got away from our game,” stated coach King after the game. “We made way too many turnovers and had problems shooting the ball.  They came in 5 games into their season and this was our first game.”

Did the late start to the season have an effect: “Three of our players were on the football team. The rest have been able to practice together the entire time. So in my mind, it wasn’t really a factor.”

Next week North plays Trail and Dixie.  “Trail is playing way better ball than they did last year so that game will be tough.  And Dixie always plays us hard.  So we expect good games from both teams.”

South Survives Against Trail

Although their record does not yet reflect it, Trail is playing better basketball this season. They played with South all night long and fell just short at games end.   It was a one point game at halftime and although South had a nice 3rd quarter run and built their longest lead of the night – 7 points, Trail made a run of their own in the 4th quarter, had the game tied, but lost in the last minute 42-40.

South though was cold in their outside shooting.  Coach Augspurger would report afterwards that South was an abysmal 2 for 17 in the first half from the 3 point line and for the game was 5 of 28. Something that will have to change for the team to be successful. But the defense was aggressive the entire night. South pressed some early, but the Trail guards handled the ball well so South had to drop it. So they played in your face man to man in the half court for most of night.  They did mix in some zone defense to give Trail a different look.  Trail played in a zone defense for the entire game.

The last minute or so was where the rubber met the road in this game.  After Trail tied the score, South’s Wes Cole drove to the hoop and made a layup to put South back on top. With 28 seconds left Trail tried to set up a play.  But the South defense was up to the task and did not give Trail the shot that they wanted, holding on for the narrow 2 point win. Anthony Augspurger had a double double – scoring 15 and snagging 10 rebounds on  the night. Other scores for South: Cole 14, Cottingim 4, Bassler 8, Osborn 1.

Coach Augspurger was asked about Anthony Augspurger, “He played well and shot well, I thought he had a good night.  He made a lot of big shots for us.  We were behind in the second quarter and he got us going to get the lead back.  He played solid defense and got a lot of rebounds.”

Wes Cole: “His shot selection was better, but his shots just weren’t dropping for him.  If he keeps taking good shots, he’s going to get rolling – it just hasn’t happened yet.  But Jacob Bassler had 2 big three’s when Trail was making a run. We’ve been working on shooting a lot in practice and we are going to need to work on it more.  I feel our defense is close to where we need it to be, but we need more offense. We have to figure out ways to score.”

Next week South travels to play a solid Miami East team: “They have size, they have 5 starters back from a team that made it to the sectional finals.  We have to defend very well, we need to handle their pressure.  Obviously Tri-Village is the team to beat this season in the CCC – but Miami East is right there.”

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

South Trounces Eagles; Short Against Stivers

South hosted a tip off tournament to open the first weekend of the boys basketball season.  Friday night South played against the Eaton Eagles and the team methodically took apart the Eagles. South had a 27-14 halftime lead.  Eaton rallied in the third quarter, but South ran away with the game in the final quarter with a 23 point burst to defeat Eaton 60-40.

This set up the championship game against Stivers who had won the previous night against Dixie.  The Tigers are tall and athletic while South’s tallest player was only 6’2”.  For a long while South has had the advantage of tall post players.  So this year’s team has to be scrappy and opportunistic on defense to be competitive. That was the way the team played against Eaton and Stivers.

Both teams pressed a little in the early going, but gradually settled into half court defenses with South in a zone and Stivers playing man to man. South started cold with some sloppy play that let Stivers get an early 8-2 advantage.  Coach Augspurger took a time out after about 4-5 turnovers and got the team sailing straight.  South was down 14-20 at the first break and that seemed to set the tone for night where Stivers would lead most of the way and South would stay on their heels.

Stivers has decent depth this season and so they could go with a short, quick lineup – then with a line change go to a taller, more physical line up.  That made it tough defensively for South to have to adjust back and forth. Still after trailing the entire game, South tied up the game at 40 all when Winston Crozier hit a shot late in the 3rd quarter.  Stivers could feel the pressure as South doggedly stayed on their heels – tying the game several times in the late 3rd and 4th quarters.  But South never could get that push to go ahead.

South rested their starters going into the last quarter and when they re-entered the court Wes Cole picked up his 3rd, then 4th foul and had to go back to the bench.  He did re-enter the game with about 2 and half minutes left.  And with South fouling to get possession of the ball, he delivered a 3 point shot to put South back within 1 with 23 seconds left.  South got the ball back again after a foul and set up a play with 15 seconds left.  They got the shot they wanted – but it wouldn’t drop and South fell in a heated game 55-53.

 “We just didn’t make enough shots,” said Coach Augspurger after the game. “but we did everything else.  I thought we battled well, we had some problems with their pressure – but we adjusted. We didn’t back down at all.  I don’t know what our shooting percentage was, but it couldn’t have been very good.”

He continued, “We had some opportunities in the 4th quarter to score and we just didn’t score.  We tied it up, but we just couldn’t get the lead.  Sometimes getting the lead changes the mentality of the game.  And we just never got there – we were always playing from behind.  We shoot free throws a little better, or we make a layup and it changes the game.”

Jacob Bassler and Wes Cole were high points for South, “Jacob Bassler had a good tournament.  He had a great second quarter against Eaton.  And he played well today, he attacked the basket.  And we need him to continue to get better.  Wes struggled shooting the ball at times.  He did not have his best weekend shooting, but we know what he can do – he can make things happen.”

Wes Cole and Anthony Augspurger made the All-Tournament team for South.  Scoring against Stivers: Wes Cole 14, Jacob Bassler 15, Winston Crozier 4, Anthony Augspurger 8, Jake Osborn 5, JJ Utz 4.

This coming Friday South plays at Trail, a team that is hoping to bounce back from last years disappointing record.

Dixie Splits Games Opening Weekend

This weekend opens the Boys Varsity Basketball season and Dixie played in the Tip Off Tournament hosted by TVS.  Their first round game was against the eventual winner of the tournament – Stivers. Dixie got off to a slow start against the Tigers – only scoring 11 points in the first half.  But thanks to a late rally in the 4th quarter they came back, but ran out of time as they fell 55-48.

So Saturday night the Greyhounds faced off against the Eaton Eagles – part of the big school division of the SWBL.  Eaton had fallen the previous night to South.  It quickly became evident that Dixie wanted to redeem themselves for their loss.  One had the sense that it would be a long night for Eaton when their point guard double dribbled the ball 5 seconds into the game. Although Eaton had an overall team height advantage, Dixie was able to counter that with an aggressive defense and spot on outside shooting.

In the first half Dixie connected on 8 treys to get the lead.  Eaton tried both man to man and 1-2-2 zone to get pressure on the wings.  But Dixie was too quick to keep covered for long. Dixie played a zone, but would mix in some trapping to keep Eaton off balance.  And Dixie was able to get turnovers from their defensive pressure.  They doubled up Eaton by halftime 33-16, shrugged off an attempt by Eaton to press coming out in the 3rd quarter and cruised to an easy 60-35 win.
Blake Miller made the all-tournament team with his performance – leading his team in scoring with 21 points Friday and 26 points Saturday. Scoring against Eaton: Rutledge 4, Grubb 7, Leonard 9, Simpson 4, Hale 3, Gengler 3, Arnett 4.

“Overall I thought we shot the ball pretty well,” stated Coach Williams after the game, “We don’t have a lot of guys big inside, so we are going to have to take a lot of outside shots. I thought defensively we did pretty well.  Now I thought we had too many turnovers as a team.  We’re going to be better, but it’s going to be a process to get where we need to be.  But defensively we were able to steal the ball and get the job done.”

Defensive Rebounding: “Our goal is to try and limit any team to just one shot. And everyone has to box out and go get a rebound.  Even against Stivers with their big size, I thought that we did a good job of limiting them to one shot most times.  We already understand that if we give them second and third shots that it is going to be a long night for us."

Stivers, “They got up on us early, but we did not quit. We got the game back to a manageable situation. But we lost some opportunities to get even closer - we missed some key shots.  Blake Miller played well for us and Justin Leonard played unbelievably well – he gave us a double – double. We were able to make it a game and challenge them.”

Next week Dixie has two big games on their schedule as they host Waynesville on Friday and then rival Brookville on Saturday.

Monday, December 08, 2014

Panthers Dominate Bronco's

South has gotten off to a slow start this season, but they hit their stride for at least one game against the Jefferson Bronco’s.  The girls dominated from the opening tip to the end of the game.  They used an aggressive defense to befuddle the Bronco’s and keep them from generating any offense on the night.  With an expanded line up this year, South was able to able to do hockey like line changes and move 5 in and 5 out to keep their pressure fresh and intense the entire game. 

South had a 10 point lead at the end of the first quarter. But they adjusted to the court in the second quarter and the shots began to drop – the Panthers stretched out their lead  and were up 36-7 at the half.  And the pressure did not relent the entire game.  South held Jefferson to a single point in the last quarter to put an exclamation point on their 64-19 win.

And scoring was distributed. High points for South  was senior Abby Horton and sophomore Emily Hutchison who both scored 10 points.  9 out of 10 players scored, also scoring were – Jaycie Fisher 6, Mylan Crews 9, Madison Wright 4, Sydney Vorhis 8, Abbey Creech 8, Hailey Keener 4, Morgan Newhart 5.

“Sometimes a game like this gets a little ugly.” Remarked coach Mabry after the game. “I will take the win – but am I totally pleased with the way we played - No.  Now the effort was there – it doesn’t matter who we are playing or what the score is, this team plays hard.  We were playing quick and up-tempo, sometimes we need to just relax a little bit.  It was good to see 9 out of the 10 players get in the score book.  We aren’t going to be able to do that every game, but it was nice to get everyone in there.”

National Trail, “Trail is a good solid team. It’s the first time in years we haven’t had to worry about a 6 footer in the post.  We are going to go out and compete and see how we do.” 

Sunday, December 07, 2014

Random Thoughts - December 7th

Well it's a testimony to the strength of the MAC- 3 state champions from that conference this season.  And hardly a season goes by where one or more MAC doesn't make it to the state title game. They have to be the top small school conference in the country.  Those schools must have entire wings devoted to Championship hardware.

And speaking about strength - what about the Buckeyes last night!!! Saw a lot of comments online - did Wisconsin even get off the bus? Did someone spike the Ohio State Gatorade?? Anyway they simply dominated all facets of the game. If you are the Wisconsin coach what do you tell your players at halftime when you are already down 38-0!!

And you are being pummeled by a team starting their 3rd string quarterback. Imagine - your first start as a Buckeye and you are starting in a championship game.  And Cardale Jones came out like a gunslinger and took care of business.  He does not run as well as Miller or Barrett.  But he has that quick release and rifle arm that NFL teams like.

So regardless of what happens in the last game, who starts for the Buckeyes next fall?  Urban Myers has a wealth of talent at quarterback. Declare one of them the QB in the offseason?  Have a run off in the spring or during conditioning in August?  It's going to be hard to make a decision and keep everyone happy.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

North Loses By One

Both Panthers team are searching for their first victory this season.  But North girls basketball came the closest to reaching that goal in the Tip Off games hosted at Northridge over Thanksgiving weekend.  Their first game was a lopsided loss against Carlisle but their next night’s game was against Northridge and that game was an exciting game that was down to wire.

The Indians have decent size, can shoot the ball both outside (hitting 7 3 pointers in the 3rd quarter) and inside.  And they are no slouches on the defensive end of the court.  North kept pace with them for one half, but after that the Indians expanded their lead and thanks to a lot of North turnovers, they won handily 57-22.  Freshman point guard Cassi Stinson lead Panther scoring with 10, Sara Harris 3, Megan Duffy 3, Tiarra Alford 3, Kara Simpson 1, December Strawser 2.

The most dramatic game of the weekend was the final game – North versus Northridge. North has already lost one starter for 2 weeks with a preseason injury and against Northridge they were short a second starter so that made the level of difficulty a little harder for North.  Both teams were slow to get going in the first quarter.  Sarah Harris nailed a 3 late in the quarter to give North a lead they would hold onto for a good part of the game.  In the second and third quarters, North would make a run, but Northridge would bounce back with a little run of their own and stay on the Panthers heels. 

Outside shooting was what kept North on top during this time.  They connected on 6 treys in the first 3 quarters – but wouldn’t hit one at all in the last quarter.  The game momentum shifted back and forth at the end of the 3rd quarter.  North made a nice 7-2 run and seemed poised to put the game away.  They were up 27-16, their only double digit lead of the night.  But Northridge made some adjustments after a time out and went on a 10-0 run of their own and their fans raised the roof when midway through the 4th quarter Northridge gained the lead.

Now the game went back and forth as the North came back and tied the score. And foul shots became critical in the last few minutes.  North was giving away bonus and senior Megan Duffy, a post player, fouled out with about a minute left.  Northridge sunk both throws to give Northridge the lead.  And with 20 seconds left, North was forced to foul to get the ball back and again they sunk both of them to extend their lead.  With 3 second lefts North inbounded the ball, but didn’t get the 3 point shot they needed for a tie – sinking instead a two point shot and losing 36-35 in a thrilling game.

Scoring for North: December Strawser (6), Sara Harris (3), Cassi Stinson (3), Allie Kring (9), Megan Duffy (6), Hailey Hillard (3), Tiarra Alford (5)

Coach Jessica Cherry on the Northridge game:  “They came out in the second half to shut down our outside shooting and I think they were successful in that.  Having our post player foul out at the end was a huge difference.  But I think we played a lot better today and we were short one of our starters with the flu, and it’s a whole different game if we have her here.  Keeping momentum was hard, I think we got a little tired at the end from playing games two nights in a row."

Cassi Stinson: “She made some good shots at the end of the game and was the leading scorer against Carlisle.  She did hurt her ankle and that may have affected her in the beginning of the game.  But she has stepped into her role as point guard and been a good leader too.  Allie Kring had a good game too, she shot well for us. Once we get our injured players back we should be able to get that inside – outside game going.”

South Starts Season

Twin Valley South’s girls basketball team began their season this weekend by playing in the CCC/SWBL Tip Off that was hosted at Northridge this season.  This season’s edition of the Panthers has more players than last year, but is still lacking in Varsity experience – and height. The team will need to be scrappy and aggressive on defense to be successful this season.

And that was the way that the team started on Friday night.  They pressed the host Polar Bears and used an attacking defense to gain an early advantage that lasted to half time.  But the third quarter was all Northridge as they outscored the Panthers and gained a lead that would not be relinquished. What had been a narrow 2 point lead at half time was turned into a deficit as South would fall 41-25. Freshman Milan Crews lead scoring for the Panthers with 9 points, Abbey Creech scored 7, Jayce Fisher 5, and Hailey Keener had 3.

Carlisle was clearly the best team in the tip off and they were next up for the Panthers. South tried to start out the same way against the Indians – a full court press and a man to man defense in the half court.  But Carlisle could not be contained so South then settled into a zone defense for the remainder of the night.  But South’s lack of height showed as Carlisle was getting 2 and 3 shot attempts on their possessions while South would only get 1 attempt.  South was also cold from the foul line – missing their first 5 attempts.  Although they would not have made a difference this time, those are lost points that can make a difference in a close game.

South scoring against Carlisle: Creech 7, Keener 8, Morgan Newhart 4.

Coach Mabry – against Northridge: “We played well early, we were up 8-zip.  We came out pressing, got on them early, and caught them by surprise.  Which is something we need to do – we have some quickness on the team and we need to utilize it.  Now we are inexperienced and we tend to get out of control with that quickness.  But as long as we are being aggressive, I don’t have a problem with it.”

He continued, “But our biggest thing right now is our shooting and our passing. I think we can get to where we need to be – it might take awhile. We mixed together some people that played last year with some people that came out this year and it will take a little bit for them to gel as a team.  Even with some juniors and a couple of seniors on the team – not much varsity experience."

The Carlisle game: “Defensively we tried to do a couple of things tonight that we hadn’t worked on in practice – this early in the season we need to find what we can do.  And I will give them credit, I can call a time out and diagram something and they will go out and execute it.  Which with some teams in the past we couldn’t do.  It is rare for a young team to be able to just sit and listen, then go out and do what I ask."

Finally, “There is a lot more to do, we are always going to be challenged to do defensive rebounding.  We can take the ball to the hole – we are aggressive with our quickness. But that quickness has to translate to rebounds at the other end. Rebounding is based on awareness – you can’t just stand around and wait for the ball to come to you. And we need to get better with our shooting.  We got some good looks, but just couldn’t knock down our shots. ”

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

North Falls to West Liberty

In a game that was not decided until the last minute North fell to the West Liberty Salem Tigers 21-14. When two closely matched teams play many times it is the team that makes the fewest mistakes that gets the victory.  And for the second time in the playoffs North’s first play from scrimmage resulted in a fumble.  And that seemed to set the tone for the night as North squandered several opportunities due to penalties and turnovers.

The Tigers defense did play North tough and they bent several times – allowing North inside their 30 7 times, but stopping the drive each time.  North would only punt 1 time on the night, but failed to convert on 4th down 4 times and gave up 3 turnovers.  A ball control team can’t afford to be in long yardage situations and several times penalties moved the ball backwards.  Still North battled back against adversity and made some good defensive stands themselves. Defensively they did a fair job against the run, and although North seemed to adjust to the pass in the second half, the Tigers did the most damage in the air.

The Tigers made some big plays on offense.  After recovering the opening fumble from North they ran a draw play on third and long and scored first on a 37 yard run.  North was able to respond when Colton Booth threw a 16 yard strike to Blake Lawson.  The Tigers would close out the first quarter with a long touchdown pass – again on a third and long play that would go 74 yards. 
In the second quarter, both teams had several drives end deep in enemy territory.  Trey Summers stopped one Tiger drive with a fumble recovery.  And the Tigers stopped two drives where North failed to convert on 4th down.  North held firm right before the end of half when the Tigers went for it on 4th down at the 19 yard line.  So both defenses made big plays to keep the second quarter scoreless.

The Tigers got their last score of the night midway in the 3rd quarter, a 16 yard pass that made it a 2 touchdown lead.   This following sequence points out one of many squandered opportunities for North. Austin Elmore had several good kick returns on the night.  But his best was a punt return to the Tiger 26 yard line in the 3rd quarter. But from there North went backwards.  They gave up a sack and then on third and long a holding penalty turned a completed pass into a loss.   Then on 4th and forever the snap was mishandled and the Tigers recovered the ball.  It was almost a complete disaster, but North kept the Tigers from scoring again.

North would score with 5 minutes left in the game.  A poor punt combined with a good return by Colton Overholtz gave North the ball at the 18 yard line. The next play Colton Booth connected with Garrett Woodyard to make it a one touchdown game 21-14.  The onsides kick failed, but North held the Tigers to 3 plays and a punt.  With just under 2 minutes left in the game, North began a drive on their own 10 with no time outs left.  But after getting a couple of first downs the Tigers crushed North’s hope for a last minute comeback when they picked off a pass and ended North’s season.

It has been a record setting year for North.  10-1 on the season, league champs, first playoff victory ever.  The seniors are the first class ever to go to the play offs all 4 years. So the North has a lot to be proud of this season.  And the playoff loss – a lot of coulda, shoulda’s.  With all the mistakes and turnovers, they still were in the game all the way to the end.  Coach Derringer and the coaching staff are also to be commended – high school football takes a lot of time and dedication to the program. In recent years North has reloaded each fall, so there a system in place that creates winners.

“Mistakes killed us,” lamented coach Derringer after the game, “We came out and made mistakes in the first half.  Then we gave up some big plays to them.  We adjusted our pass coverage and that seemed to have that fixed.  We just didn’t play well tonight. But every kid gave it their all.”

He continued, “We have had a great season and a fantastic run. I am proud of each and every one of the kids – we fought and fought and fought.  It was 21-14 and we got the ball and were driving at the end.   I have to give credit to West Liberty they deserve the win – they held us on every 4th down we had deep in their territory.  If we make any one of those and punch it in, then it’s a different ball game. Their linebackers did a good job of blowing up our isolation plays.  They are big up front and have good skill players.”

Finally, “They have been a great group of seniors.  They have been good leaders all year.  The first group in Preble County to go to the playoffs all four years.  And there are the unsung heroes  - several seniors did not get that much playing time.  But they came to practice every day, they worked hard, they tried to make us better.  It was a group effort out of this senior class. I told them they did something that no one else at North has ever done. This year was a special year - it was a great run.”

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Tri-County North Wins First Ever Playoff Game

This year’s record setting team once again took care of business the same way that have all season and recorded North’s first ever play off win.  Over the years North has qualified for the playoffs many times, but they were always one and done.  And the victory was all the sweeter as it took place in Lewisburg in front of a vocal TCN crowd.  For the senior class – they can also be proud that they made the playoffs all 4 years that they played.

Summit Country Day spread out the field and mixed the run and the pass.  But for the most part North’s defense kept them contained.  And North’s special teams once again shone and set up some big plays – including a punt return for a touchdown by Austin Elmore.  And Country Day had to deal with a long field most of night. They are a young team and do not have as deep a bench as North.  So in the second half North’s senior laden offense kept chugging out the yardage and kept Country Day’s offense on the bench.  And after their first possession of the second half – North pretty much limited them to 3 and out’s the rest of the night.

You had to be worried when the first play from scrimmage by North was a fumble – but the ball bounced into a diving Colton Booth’s hands.  And North did have to punt on their first series.  But the remainder of the first quarter was all North.  Linebacker Tanner Booth set up the first score by batting a Country Day pass into the air, then catching the ball and carrying to the 8 yard line before being dragged down.  Kody Cordes took over from there as he carried the ball into the endzone to spot North an early lead. 

And things went downhill fast for the Silver Knights.  A mishandled kick put the ball on the 5 yard line where Colton Booth tackled the quarterback in the endzone for a safety.   So Country Day now had to kick to North and the team responded by driving the ball 70 yards for another scoring drive – capped by a 21 yard carry by Kody Cordes.  So in the space of a few minutes, Country Day was down 16-0.

County Day was able to respond in the second quarter – they reached into their bag of tricks and were able to pull off a fake punt that kept the drive alive.  But North’s defense held them to a 28 yard field goal.  As time ran down before the half, Colton Booth connected with Garret Woodyard for a 38 yard catch to put North up 24-3.

Country Day came out of the locker room and put together another scoring drive.  And this made it a two score game with North up 24-10.  Country Day did try an onsides kick – but an offsides penalty called it back and the second time they kicked away.   The teams exchanged possessions and it was Austin Elmore who put the game out of reach when he took a punt at midfield and weaved through Country Day to make it a 3 score game once again.

North played ball possession the remainder of the game and Austin Green put the final points on the board with an 11 yard carry.  Not a perfect game – North mishandled the ball several times and this, along with some untimely penalties put them into long yardage situations.  A ball possession team needs to chug out the yardage consistently and not have to deal with 3rd and longs.  Still it was enough to win 38-10 and earn a ticket to the next round of the playoffs.   Not that North needed any extra motivation, but a few of the Country Day players trash talked North players during warmups. Coach Derringer remarked later that he did not need to motivate the players before the game– they were already fired up.

Like climbing a ladder - each round of the playoffs will be tougher and tougher for the team as they take each rung.  So they will need to watch those afore mentioned mistakes.  Next week they play against West Liberty Salem - a more seasoned team that can pass the ball well.

Coach Derringer on the win, “It’s been a long time coming – it took 7 times to get the win.  It’s a special group of guys, they worked so hard.  I can’t say enough for the senior leadership.  I know that at halftime, no one was satisfied with the performance of the first half.  They got on each other at halftime and in the second half I thought we did a pretty nice job. “

He continued, “I am almost at a loss for words right now, it’s really exciting.  I am happy for the kids – we are at 10-0 now.  It’s been a special year.”

On Country Day’s touchdown, “We really need to work on our deep pass coverage.  They have some really good skill players.  Our coverage was there we just have to do a better job of playing the football instead of playing the man. But we will work hard on that this week.  A lot of the teams coming up are shot gun, spread teams that can throw the ball.  So we are going to see this again.”

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

TCN Wins CCC Title - How Sweet It Is!

Any thoughts that North might take a night off against Trail were quickly dispelled as they went to business in workmanlike fashion to score early and often.  Trail runs a spread offense and has been known to score some points. But while the offense was busy racking almost 300 yards rushing on the night, the defense pitched a shutout – and Austin Elmore picked off a pass and took it to the house to score a defensive touchdown to put the icing on the cake for an outstanding defense performance.   
By night’s end North had made a statement that they owned undisputed sole possession of the CCC championship.  And they also avenged last year’s upset victory by Trail that had ended their regular season.  So with this final regular season win they have exorcised all the ghosts of last year’s losses. 

Others who scored for North were Dustin Green who scored twice with carries of 3 and 1 yard.  Colton Booth also crossed the goal line twice with short yardage carries. And Lane Gunder ended scoring for the night with a 10 yard run in the last quarter.  The Panthers totaled 292 yards on the ground and this was distributed amazingly amongst 8 different running backs. 

With the win, North is the top team in the district and so they will host Cinncinati Summit Country Day next week. The rest of the CCC playoff picture is as follows:   Miami East finished in second place in the CCC and they likewise are second in the district.  Covington is the 7th ranked team in region 26 (divison 7) and so they will be travelling to play Lehman Catholic.  This is the first undefeated team in Tri-County North history.  There was an undefeated team in the 77-78 school year football season for Twin Valley North – but the school was renamed since that time.

Summit Country Day has a sophomore quarterback who likes to pass the ball.  The CCC is run oriented with the exception of Trail who uses a spread offense and likes to pass.  So North’s secondary will be busy as the receiving is distributed amongst 6-7 players.  Like all good teams Country Days specialty teams are no slouches as they have deep returners that can take it to the house.  In contrast to the Panthers – who are packed with seniors, the Silver Knights are a young, but talented team. And the offenses contrast as well: a passing offense versus a running - ball control offense. So it should be an interesting matchup.  The game will be played at North on Friday night.

Stats for TCN:  Passing – Colton Booth 4 att/1 com 8yds; Receiving – Kody Cordes 1-8; Rushing – Colton Booth 11-30, Austin Elmore 1-24; Alex Kerby 2-6; Garret Woodyard 6-37; Lane Gunder 5/26; Wesley Morrow 3-6; Dustin Green 20-83; Kody Cordes 14-80. Tackles – Tanner Booth 6; Colton Booth 5; Blake Lawson 4.  Sacks Trey Summers 2.

South Loses to Miami East - Just Misses Playoffs

Friday night was a dismal night for South – the weather was cold and wet, they lost the game by one touchdown, and they just missed getting into the playoffs.  So the game was disappointing on many levels.  Not what this team wanted on senior night, the last home game for the players. 
Both teams feature a strong running game, so playing in the rain did not change any strategies.  But a team playing from behind that needed to pass would have a tough time handling the ball. And weather did play a factor on South’s first quarter drive where on 4th and short at the goal line, they coughed up the ball and Miami East recovered.

Miami East promptly turned around and drove the length of the field and scored – but missed the extra point, potentially leaving the door open for TVS.  South, to their credit was able to respond with another drive of their own and this time Wes Cole punched the ball in for a touchdown and more importantly the team scored the PAT.  So at the end of the first quarter, TVS held the lead.
East was able to generate a scoring drive right before the end of the half. On 4th and 2 on the 4 yard line, they were able to cross the goal line and more importantly they went for 2 on the PAT and made it, making it 14-7 at the half.

But that would be the extent of scoring for the game.  On a soggy field, both teams found yardage hard to come by.  Miami East seemed to move the ball better than South,  and that kept South at their end of the field for the most part.  Miami East did appear to have a third score when Colton Mckinney bolted thru the South defense for about 40 yards to the goal line.  But a holding call brought the ball back.  And South had a glimmer of home themselves when Aaron Deaton fell on a fumble in the 4th quarter at midfield.  But a tough Viking defense put South into a 4th and 14 situation and South had to punt the ball away. 

South used all their timeouts and shot all their bullets, but the door closed on the 2014 season with a 14-7 loss to East.  The win puts East in 2nd place in the district and they will host Versailles.  The loss puts South at 9th place – just missing the playoffs.

Head Coach Cates: “Our defense did well in the second half after we made some adjustments, but our offense couldn’t get it going.   Miami East is a good team, but losing to them was a tough pill to swallow – particularly with the playoff implications.  7-2 is a definite improvement from what it has been in the past here at Twin Valley South.  I am proud of our kids effort, but it hurts - we are heartbroken for the kids and the staff and the community.  We look at all the time they all put into it and we are sitting here at 7-2 and are not going to get into the playoffs. “

The seniors: “I think that you are only as strong as your senior class. And that was never more evident than this year.  Wes Cole, Todd French, and Jared Rivers were all 4 year lettermen.  It’s hard for a team to come in and beat a team with this much experience.  They have been through almost every scenario and have been on the wrong side of it a lot.  So I am really proud of the seniors for sticking it out and buying into our program.  They worked hard in the off season and said hey we are going to be a different senior class. “

He continued, “ I am proud of their leadership.  They never backed down – at Trail they lead us to a come from behind victory.  And they responded well after North – we were able to come back and beat Covington.  And we played well against Miami East, it was a dog fight.  We were glad to get Anthony Augspurger back after tearing his acl, and our senior linemen dominated the line of scrimmage in most of our games.  I feel that team is good enough and strong enough to be in the playoffs, but that is how the points system works – if you don’t win, you can’t guarantee yourself anything. But the seniors can be proud that they changed this program and have it going in the right direction.“

Ohio State Stadium - nice place to watch a game.

I was fortunate to get some tickets this past week to watch Ohio State play an 8 o'clock game.  The seats were Bob Ueker tickets - almost at the top level of the stadium.  But I learned to appreciate them as it got colder and the winds whipped up.  The flags were snapping at the other end of the stadium, but it was calm where we were - under the press box protected from the elements.

It has been decades since I have been to Ohio State to see a game.  The open end of the horse shoe was not closed in yet and they did not have the big screen TV's that they do now.  And no, they did not play in leather helmets.  But they did have the same bench style seating as they do now.  So you get cozy with your neighbor, particularly on a cold fall night when every one is bundled up.

The band has modernized too. They did a space theme at halftime and a memorable part of the show was an apollo rocket launching complete with smoke and fireworks.  And oh yeah, there was a game too.  But Illinois was completely outclassed.  Ohio State racked up the points on them.  One highlight of the game was when it appeared that JT Barrett had fumbled.  The Illinois player grabbed the ball and began to run it back.  But Barrett wrapped his arm around his neck and shoulder and slammed him to ground.  An impressive tackle that would have made a linebacker proud.  But it was all for naught as the ball was ruled an incomplete pass. But Barrett did a great job of threading the ball to his receivers otherwise.

When we left it was like 41 - 7.  So yeah it was lopsided and with the cold setting in, it was time to go. Ohio State does a decent job with parking.  They have outlying lots and then shuttle fans in buses to and from the lots.  And the buses run constantly on game day. So not much of a wait at all to get back to the lot  Oh and the ushers were great - we had that dazed and confused look to us as we searched for where to go, but they did a great job of guiding us.  So overall a great experience that I would recommend to any Buckeye fan.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

North Defense Stands Tall

The adage is that defense wins championships. And if you follow sports for very long you see that this is true. In a second battle of unbeatens, the North defense stood tall in a CCC showdown against South. South threw everything they had at North but had problems even getting a first down in the early going.  And on the other side of the ball, the North backfield is loaded with good running backs - any one of which could be feature back on another CCC team.  But senior night was Austin Green’s night to shine as he scored 4 times for North. South just couldn’t stop the North offensive juggernaut and in another spotlighted game, North rose to the occasion with a resounding 42-15 win.

It was a playoff atmosphere for this critical game – both the upper and lower parking lots were filled so late arrivals had to scramble for parking spots.  If not the biggest crowd ever, it had to be in the top 5. And again there were TV cameras on the sidelines. South wanted get the ball early, establish the run, and get a first score to take the crowd out of the game.  So they won the toss and went into a wishbone formation, but North held them to 3 and outs on their first few possessions.  South went to their play book and spread out their offense, but yardage was hard to earn.

North on the other hand sliced thru the South defense.  The line push got North running backs into the secondary of South’s defense and it generally takes more than one tackler to bring down a North running back.  By that time, they had already gained 7-8 yards.  So North was able to go out to a 28-0 lead in the 2nd quarter.  To their credit, South put together a scoring drive late in the first half.  After a Jordan Overcash sack put South into long yardage, on 4th and 14 Wes Cole scrambled then connected with Jared Rivers for a 30 yard touchdown pass.

North received the ball in the second half and there was a flicker of hope when JJ Utz intercepted a Colton Booth pass on that first drive.  But the stalwart North defense forced a punt and North did what North does best – drive the ball to the goal line.  South pulled out all of the stops – faked a punt on 4th and 7 and kept that drive alive when Josh Cottingim caught a Jacob Bassler for a first down.  But they would not cross the goal line again until late in the game when Wes Cole scored and in a final act of defiance, South went for 2 on the PAT and made it.

With the win, North guarantee’s at least a share of the CCC title and are assured of a playoff slot. Will they take a night off next Friday against Trail? Not a chance - this year’s seniors remembered how last season spiraled out of control and towards the end Trail upset North 15-13. They have exorcised all of the ghosts of last year’s losses this season with the exception of Trail.  Finally,  North has only had one other undefeated team – the 77-78 school year. So that is another goal that the team now has in its sights.  So the team will be hungry going into the game.

On the other hand, South will play at Miami East next Friday. Both teams need to win to get into the playoffs and have a possible shot at sharing the league title.  It is hard to get up emotionally two weeks in a row, but South will have to steel themselves to play away against another tough league opponent. 

Coach Derringer on the game, “The team worked very hard this year, and they had a vision of where they wanted to be – and they have just done an outstanding job.  Our defense has played well all year and we stepped up to take away their power game.  We set the tempo on that first drive, Colton Booth made a big 3rd down play and we did that all night.  We bent a little bit – they were able to bounce outside and get some yardage, but overall I was very pleased. Offensively, I don’t think we punted at all.  Sometimes the best defense is keeping the ball in our hands and keeping it out of theirs.”
On Austin Green, “He is very big on the inside.  We have others that are good on the outside.  We do whatever we have to do – we have had 5 different backs score this season.  But it is wonderful that Austin had a good night tonight. “

On the Conference, “It has been since 1994 that we have won a conference title.  And that is our goal – it has been our goal since the beginning of the year.” On the chance for being undefeated, “That is a goal for every team that we have. It is hard to do – injuries can be a factor.  You have to play well against schools our size. Now we have had some injuries, but we had some kids step up and contribute.” Trail: “We have thought about that game since last year. We are going to work very hard this week and be prepared.  We still have a lot to work for and we want to win the championship outright.” 

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

North Crushes Miami East

At the start of Friday night there were 3 unbeaten teams in the CCC, but by nights end that number was whittled down to 2.  Most followers of the CCC were expecting a slim margin of victory when undefeated Miami East met undefeated Tri-County North.  And how would a bye week affect Tri-County North?  Last season Miami East beat North twice, how would North respond this season? This years game was at Miami East – how would North respond to a big game away from home. Those were a few of the questions going into Friday nights game, but North answered them with a resounding roar as they blasted past the Vikings 42-14.

Field position, turnovers, and distributed scoring were all factors in North’s success.  5 different players crossed the goal line for North – you can stop one player, but it is hard to stop a team.  It took a few series for North to get their motor in gear.  They were 3 and out on offense their first two series and although the defense kept East scoreless in the first half, they gave up some yardage. So the bye week seemed to have an effect, at least in the early going.  But as the game progressed, North got their mojo back and gained the early momentum.

Despite the windy conditions, North was getting good coverage and a good roll on their punts – putting East deep into their own territory to start drives.  On the other hand, North was getting good field position and their first score was from a drive that started at midfield.  Colton Booth connected with Kody Cordes for a touchdown pass. And Miami East did not help their cause during the night as they coughed up the ball 4 times.  And this season North has been able to capitalize on gifts from the other team.  So after scoring North kicked off and East promptly fumbled on the return.  It was not easy, but North answered with a touchdown by Booth and now East was down by 2 scores.

So a lethargic North team had come alive.  But they were not done yet.  Their next scoring drive was a 95 yard drive capped with a Garret Woodyard run for a touchdown.  East tried to put some points on the board right before halftime, but after driving to the North 15, Trey Summers sacked the East quarterback to put them in long yardage.  They could not convert on 4th down and South entered the locker room with a 21-0 lead and equally as important - the momentum.

North continued where they left off in the 3rd quarter. Blake Lawson caught a touchdown pass and Dustin Green scored on 14 yard run.  East made a last gasp effort in the 4th quarter where they had some success running in between the tackles and were able to score a couple of touchdowns. But it was too little, too late as North coasted to an anti-climactic 42-14 win. Setting up a huge rivalry game with South next week as the last two unbeaten teams in the CCC clash.

“The effort from our kids was just outstanding”, stated Coach Derringer after the game, “but we have a big game ahead of us next week in Twin Valley South.  It’s going to be a big game for us. Colton Booth had another good game and he made some good decisions at the quarterback position. We worked on his passing game this week  and I think it showed tonight in the first half. But I give East a lot of credit, we had a running clock on them – but they responded.   They went down the field and stuck it in. Then got an onsides kick and scored again.  And it showed us that we still have things we need to work on.  South has a good running game and our defense has to show up.”

Is this the best team coach you coached?  “I don’t like to compare one team against the other, we have had some great athletes here the last 3-4 years and we have a great group this year too.”

At the end of the interview coach Derringer flatly stated that, “I want to be other there with my guys” – referring to the team. You could tell that he would rather be celebrating with his players than speaking with a cluster of sports reporters. And I couldn’t blame him -  last years losses against Miami East(one regular season and one playoff loss) have been avenged and it was time for North to bask in the afterglow of a job well done.

Will this be the last time that East and North play this season?  Maybe not as both teams are in the same playoff district.  So there is a chance that the two foes will meet again. But North has to prepare for another big game against unbeaten South next Friday. The CCC title and the playoff’s are factors dependent on the outcome of this game.

South Dominates Covington

1999 was the last time that South beat Covington.  And although it has been a down year by Covington standards, they are still well coached and play hard.  But South’s size and athleticism allowed them to dominate Covington.  They scored first and took advantage when Covington turned over the ball.  Covington was able to score in the third quarter and make things a little interesting, but South would not let them get a whiff of a comeback by scoring 3 second half touchdowns themselves for a 41-14 victory.

Anthony Augspurger scored all 3 of South’s first half touchdowns. In the second half the scoring was more distributed with Joe Webb, Sammy Shockey, and Wes Cole all making touchdowns.  Worrisome for South was that they did not get any PAT’s in the first half.  In a close game, those PAT’s can be the difference.  South turned over the ball themselves, also something that is uncharacteristic for them.

“We came out hard right from the get-go”, stated Coach Cates, “we scored fast and that is huge against an option/ball control team like Covington.   We were up 14-0 right out of the gate.  Our defense was aggressive and played soundly the whole night. Offensively we just dominated the line of scrimmage – our line just did a great job.  We ran right at them and used our size advantage. Defensively they read the option and defended it well.”

He continued, “I have a tremendous amount of respect for their coach, Dave Miller.  They play  extremely hard.  But I was disappointed that we had more turnovers in this game than we had all year. “

Next week’s showdown with North, “It’s awesome that both teams are undefeated.  We focus on one game at time, but we have been watching what they have done. But now it’s here – how can this game get any bigger in Preble County.  Both teams undefeated this late in the season with the CCC championship and the playoffs on the line. “

“We are really excited about it and it is going to be a huge test.  They have a huge senior class, we have a big senior class.  Which made both teams successful – all of that game experience.  It’s going to be a dog fight, their backs are pretty big and hard to bring down.  Their defense has been lights out all year and every week our defense has been getting better. This game could really come down to who makes the less mistakes – who is going to protect the ball better.  I think it is going to be a close game and won’t be decided until the 4th quarter.”

This year’s North – South game will be in Lewisburg so North will have the home field advantage. North has dominated the matchup in recent history. But for the first time in a long time, this game has significance.  The winner will control their destiny in the playoff positioning, the loser will have to wait and watch how the numbers play out after that last game of the season. The winning team will also have at least a share of the league title.  Not mention it is a rivalry and you play hard in every game – but in a rivalry you reach a little deeper to give a little more during the game.  There have been several epic battles over years, this game should not disappoint, so get there early to get a good seat.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Shawnee Drops Dixie

Dixie hung tough with the Shawnee Arrows for about 2 and half quarters on Friday night.  Both teams run a spread offense and the slick conditions in the drizzling rain made it tough for either team to get their offenses in gear during the early going.  And at half time it was almost a stalemate with Shawnee holding a narrow 6-0 lead.  But a young Dixie team with a lot of players going both ways on offense and defense gradually wore down, allowing Shawnee to overwhelm the Greyhounds in the second half.

Dixie actually had good field position in the first half. Their defense was stingy and their special teams were more effective on punts – as both teams had many 3 and outs in the early going.  Shawnee started most of their first half drives in their own territory, while Dixie had a short field.  Dixie gained the Shawnee 30 yard line twice in the first half and thanks to a Devin Worley to Justin Leonard pass – they were in scoring position at the 8 yard line of Shawnee.  But in all three cases, Shawnee’s defense held firm and denied Dixie the end zone.

Shawnee finally made the decision to keep things simple in the poor conditions.  They began running the ball in between the tackles. Mixing in an occasional pass to keep the Dixie defense honest. And their offense is a no huddle offense, meaning that Dixie’s defense was not getting much of a breather in between plays.  Dixie’s offense was not moving the ball well, so the defensive players didn’t have much recovery time on the sidelines before they were back to the grind.  This paid dividends when at the 7:26 mark of the second quarter they scored to capture the lead.  And this would continue to be their strategy in the second half.

Surprisingly there were no turnovers in the first half. Sometimes weather can be an equalizer – the underdog team gets a fumble or mishandled pass and momentum can change.  But fate was not kind to the Greyhounds.  After holding Shawnee and forcing a punt – it was muffed deep in Dixie territory.  A few plays later, Shawnee scored and the air seemed to go out of Dixie’s sails.  Two scores down and under dismal conditions.  When it rains, it pours – with the running game almost non-existent, Dixie was forced to take to the air.  Luke Lovely had two interceptions including a pick six.  The turnovers gave Shawnee great field advantage. What had been a close game turned into a rout as Shawnee rolled in the second half for a 38-0 victory. 

Coach Watson commented after the game, “We played well with them in the first half.  And I told them at halftime that in a close game like this that the team that makes a mistake can lose this game. Unfortunately we were the ones that made a mistake and Shawnee took advantage.  We are a young team – starting a lot of freshmen and sophomores.  So when we got down, the wheels seemed to fall off and we couldn’t get our momentum back. Their hurry up offense was a factor to a degree. We wore down in the second half.”

Justin Leonard:  “He had some good catches tonight that gave our offense a little spark. He is generally a possession type receiver, so he gets short yardage passes.  But tonight he gave us some yardage that helped move the ball. “

South Keeps Rolling

The South season keeps rolling along in winning fashion.  This week the opponent was the Bethel Bee’s who feature an option offense.  But the Panther defense pounced on the Bee’s and held them scoreless.  The offense was slow to get going in the wet weather but by games end the score was 31 -0 in favor of the Panthers.  This makes South 6-0 on the year.

Sammy Shockey got the first score of the night when he ripped loose a 20 yard run in the first quarter. Then Jacob Bassler ran in a blocked punt for a second score.  JJ Utz pulled in a 40 yard TD pass from Wes Cole to end the first half scoring.  Cole would be 5 for 6 passing on the night.  Wes Cole ran for a 4 yard touchdown and JJ Utz put the last points on the board for the Panthers with a respectable 28 yard field goal – keeping his perfect record on field goals intact.

Coach Cates on the game, “We came out playing our brand of defense and they played lights out.  Everyone is flying to the football and that is important on an option team. We got good field postion on special teams.   Our kicker, JJ Utz, helped give us that good field postion and he has also done well on extra points and field goals this season.  The offense moved the ball well on the ground and were very efficient when we passed.  But Bethel played pretty hard, they fought all the way – I am glad to be able to come out on top.”

Covington:  “I am glad we played two option teams going in to play Covington because they run the option very well.  They also run it out of some different formations, so we have to prepare for that as well.  Those kids play very hard, and they go into every game believing that they are going to win.  They are a younger team this year, but they are still very sound and play extremely hard.  We have not beat them since 1999, so that gives us some motivation. “

Three teams undefeated in the CCC:  “It is great for the conference that we did so well in our out of conference games – it makes our conference look that much better.  We are aware of what the other teams are doing, but we haven’t focused on them as we keep our focus on next week’s game.  But we have seen them on film and have seen the scores and are aware that they are really good teams.  We know that North has a strong senior class like we do and both North and Miami East have winning traditions.  They have had more success lately and South just doesn’t have that winning tradition like they do.

“We have to keep our kids believing, they have to be hungry and want to win.  I want to see these last 3 games across the conference – the league title and playoff hopes are on the line.  But we have to take games one game at a time – South can’t even begin to look at a conference championship or playoff’s without beating Covington.”