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Sunday, January 10, 2016

South Experience Nets Win

Both South and Ansonia entered the evening contest with 2 game losing streaks and both teams wanted to get back on track with a win. The 1st half of the game was a battle of the defenses, with neither team able to score much. South had the lead at half 14-12, a score more befitting a football game than a basketball game. In the 2nd half both teams opened the throttle on their offenses and the pace of scoring picked up. The two teams battled back and forth with several lead changes. But South made a nice run at the end of the 3rd quarter and into the last quarter to give themselves a double digit lead. Ansonias young team had a shooting slump and had several turnovers during this time frame. Ansonia made a couple of late charges, but South held them off for a 49-37 win.

During the pregame, channel 7's Mike Hartzog was master of ceremonies for an award given to South's coach Tony Augspurger who had recorded his 400th victory just a few weeks ago. He has also won 5 conference championships during his 30 year career.

But there was not much offensive action for channel 7 to film in the 1st half. Both defenses were stingy and both teams were boxing out effectively on defense and getting those defensive rebounds – meaning that neither team was giving up many second chance points. Ansonia played a matchup zone that put good pressure on South's outside shooters and tangled up any attempts by South to score in the paint. South played in man to man defense – mixing in a half court trap a few times and some full court pressure – particularly in the 2nd half.

Coach Augspurger would later remark, “Ansonia did not get many open shots, but the ones they took dropped in.” The Tigers alternately drove to the basket from a 4-1 set, or worked the ball around the perimeter for an open shot. But the young Tigers (only 1 senior on their roster) faltered down the stretch. Sometimes a young team can tighten up under pressure and make mistakes. But South, with 4 seniors on their roster, remained poised and made their shots with the game on the line.

The two teams scored at a quicker pace in the 3rd quarter and the lead changed several times. But in the 4th quarter with both teams pressing for the lead, the Tiger offense grew cold – they had problems making shots. And Ansonia who had done a good job of handing Souths defensive pressure to this point, gave up the ball several times on bad passes or poor ball handling. South with their experience handled the pressure well and benefited from these mistakes and grew a double digit lead. Ansonia did try to press to overcome the deficit, but South was able to control the ball down the stretch and walk off the court with the win.

Coach Augspurger on the game, “I don't think we gave them [Ansonia] a ton of open shots, but the ones they got, they made. I thought we responded well, we didn't panic. We continue to work on our defense and I thought we had a 5 minute stretch where we played as well as we have all season. We made stops and limited them to one shot by rebounding. Then at the other end, we made our shots. That 5 minute stretch was huge, it was the difference in the ball game.”

He continued, “Both Jacob Bassler and JJ Utz made some critical plays. JJ plays like a senior should at point and Jacob is relentless. He is not the quickest, but he has been our best offensive weapon. He attacks and attacks – he grabs rebounds, he scores inside, he does what he needs to do for our team.”

On the low first half scoring, “Their defense is good. We found it confusing at times. Both teams were playing really tough defense. Chad Cramer is a very good coach – we were joking that we were sorry to see him back in the league. He has had a lot of success wherever he has coached.

Scoring: Ryan Bassler 6, Mike Meyers 2, Jacob Bassler 14, Winston Crossier 5, Andrew Augspurger 5, JJ Utz 12.

Next week South has a their work cut out for them as they battle defending state champs Tri-Village at Tri-Village on Tuesday and then play back to back games at home on Friday and Saturday against Newton and Shawnee. So it will be a busy week for the Panthers.