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Saturday, December 19, 2015

Dixie Drops Two

It was not a good week for the Hounds as they dropped 2 winnable games.  They first played undefeated Northridge who has been playing quality basketball as of late. Dixie actually lead at halftime but Northridge's 2nd half press wore them down.  Northridge gradually grew a lead and went on to win 66-58.  Preble Shawnee entered the week undefeated, but like Dixie they had lost on Tuesday.  So both teams came into Fridays game hoping to regain momentum.  The contest was an even matchup.  At one point in the 4th quarter, the game was knotted up 42-all and both teams had 7 fouls.  And when two equal teams meet, often times it is the team that makes the fewest mistakes that wins.  Dixie committed critical turnovers about midway through the last quarter that Shawnee turned into points.  With the lead, the Arrows went into slowdown mode and solidified a 57-48 victory.  Cody Grubbs lead all scorers with 28 points.

Northridge features Drew Ogletree – a dominating post player who helped Northridge go undefeated in the SWBL and make a playoff run to the sweet 16 last season. He did not disappoint as he put up 26 points on the Hounds. Dixie lead 32-26 at the half, but the withering press of Northridge seemed to take a toll on the team and frustrated Dixie. Blake Miller lead scoring for Dixie with 23 and Cody Gubb had 12 points.

Shawnee also has a strong post player in Thomas Buell - who almost didn't play in the game. He rolled an ankle in the Carlisle game earlier in the week and was on crutches afterwards. He was given clearance to play just that day and lead Shawnee in scoring with 16 points. So it was the second game in a row where Dixie had to figure out a way to defend dominating post player.

The Shawnee – Dixie game was a dog fight most of the way. The teams were evenly matched and there were several ties and lead changed through most of the game. It was 10-10 at the end of the first quarter. Shawnee was able to get a slight edge at halftime time – 21-18. But in a precursor of things to come, Shawnee's lead came at the end of the half when Dixie got sloppy with their ball handling and gave Shawnee a couple of turnovers. Shawnee converted these early Christmas gifts into points.

The 3rd quarter ended in a 42 – all tie and it remained knotted for the first 3 minutes of the 4th quarter. Shawnee did a little half court trap and netted a turnover. Then they got another turnover and were up by 2 scores. Dixie countered with a press to get some turnovers of their own, but it backfired when Shawnee broke the press to perfection and scored an easy basket. It was downhill from there as Dixie tried to rally, but Shawnee held them off and expanded their lead for the victory.

“Defensively we were able to get back into it. But I thought we didn't have the zeal and energy that we needed,” stated Coach Williams after the Shawnee game, “It didn't seem like the same team that we have had the last couple of games. We were kind of flat. Shawnee did make some timely shots when they needed to. Cody Grubb played well, I would have liked for him to attack a little more against Buell. Defensively we need more out of him.”

“Against Northridge we played with more energy,” he continued, “but we don't have much of a bench and seemed to get tired in the last quarter. I like the way we played against Northridge, but we just didn't play to our potential tonight.”

Dixie played two teams that are at the top of the SWBL Buckeye division. Both times Dixie played with their opponent for most of the game, only to lose towards the end. The season is still young, so Dixie can make up ground and make a move up in the division, but the league losses do drop Dixie into the bottom half of the division. Dixie won't play any division opponents until after the start of the new year. Then they resume league play and will have a chance for redemption. Dixie next plays at Oakwood – always a tough venue for visiting teams.

Sunday, December 13, 2015

North Wins Buzzer Beater

“It feels better than I thought it would,” coolly remarked coach Spitler after logging his first win as varsity coach. North had to win in come from behind fashion on the road and then hit the game winning shot with about 1.2 seconds left in the game. North let Trail garner a 10 point lead in the 1st quarter, then had to play catchup the remainder of the game. After staying on the heels of Trail for most of the game. North's Zach Edgin threw an improbable inbound pass ¾ the length of the court to a waiting Gabe Brinson who caught the ball close to the basket and tossed it in for the victory 64-62 as time expired.

But first up this week for North was a game with Franklin a D2 school in the SWBL's big school division. North was able to play with the Wildcats for about a half. The score was tied at the end of the 1st quarter and with about a minute left, Franklin went on a run to capture the lead 36-28 at half time. But Franklin carried their momentum forward into the second half and had a 54-40 lead at the end of 3 quarters. North had a tough time against Franklin's ¾ court press. And Franklin would win 60-44.

“You can't win turning the ball over 30 times,” remarked coach Spitler after this game, “Turning the ball over was the difference in this game. There were a lot of careless passes. We kept it close a good bit of the game, and otherwise gave good effort – take away the turnovers and we were in that game.”

To say that North got to a slow start against Trail is an understatement. At one point the score was 18-3 before the team seemed to wake up and go a on little run to close out the 1st quarter. But coach Spitler adjusted the defense to a man to man and from there North began to slowly dig themselves out of the hole.

It was 31-26 at halftime. And the game became a rubber band game where North would make a run and draw close, but Trail would feel the heat and go on a run of their own to stretch their lead back out. But North kept the heat up and finally tied the score late in the 4th quarter. Then North hit the aforementioned shot to win the game at the buzzer while the gym erupted in pandemonium.

“It feels really good; it feels better than I thought it would,” stated coach Spitler after the victory, “We have 2 tough games coming up next week against Miami East and Brookville, so we needed this win now. I saw that East beat South 57-30, and South is a good team.”

He was asked about having 3 scorers in double figures, “Garret Woodyard -He had a good week this week. He scored well against Franklin and put up 15 against Trail. Gabe Brinson had 15 points too, and Kurt Brinson put up 23. They all played well tonight.”

North plays 2 tough teams back to back. Travelling to Miami East on the 18th and then hosting neighboring Brookville on the 19th. Then they will participate in the Shawnee Holiday tournament over Christmas break.  

Vikings Overwhelm Panthers

Entering the week, South knew that they had to be giant slayers. They played back to back games against teams that had a lot more size than the Panthers – who don't have any size themselves in the first place. They were able to handle the SWBL's Valley View team, that had two players 6'4” or better. But against their fellow CCC team, Miami East, South struggled to find a way to overcome the Vikings combination of height and shooting. South won against Valley View 48-39, but fell to the Vikings 57-30.

Against Valley View, South allowed the Spartans an early lead. Then the team seemed to gather itself and went on an impressive run that gave the Panthers the lead for the remainder of the game. Defense was key for the Panthers – they held the Spartans to 2 points for about a 13 minute stretch that ended the first half and began the second half.

“Our instensity was great,” remarked coach Augspurger, “They were a big team, but not as wide – we contained their post better, and didn't give them many open shots.”

Miami East was a team that lived up it's billing. The opening lineup was much taller position by positon than South. And another big difference was shooting. A neutral observer coming in off the street would have thought that Miami East was the home team and South was the visitor. The Vikings sank shots with ease, but South had problems finding the rim all night. Usually the home team has the higher shooting percentage while the visitors, who are on an unfamiliar court, are the ones whose shooting suffers.

The Vikings did play good defense, but South missed a lot of open shots. The Vikings pressed in the first quarter and played zone defense in the half court. South was down 13-5 at the end of the 1st quarter and they made a little run at the end of the 1st half, but were down 22-14 as the teams entered the 2nd half. Jacob Bassler kept South in the game in the 1st half - scoring 10 of his 12 points during this span. But the Vikings shut him almost completely down in the second half.

But South was cold shooting and with their height, the Vikings limited South to one shot on almost every possession. So the lead gradually lengthened. Then South when on a scoring drought to start the last quarter. Ryan Bassler finally scored for the Panthers but East ended any attempts at a rally despite South pressing to try and get some turnovers.

“That was the worst matchup in our league for us.” stated coach Augspurger afterwards, “We are team of 5' 11” kids and they are playing kids 6' 3” and taller. So it's a bad matchup for us. They are an experienced team and know how to play that zone – and know how to stretch it. But we had shots, but we were not making them. We didn't turn the ball over much; we didn't rebound so much. But in the end we were not making our 3 point shots.”

“The better team won tonight,” he continued, “I have coached against Miami East teams since about 2000 and this one of the best teams that I have seen from them. Barring injury, I would not be surprised to see them win 20 games.”

Next up for South are two critical away games against league opponets. Next Friday they play at Covington, then on Tuesday the 22nd they play at Bethel. Then during Christmas break they will play in Preble Shawnee's holiday tournament.