Saturday, January 13th, 2007
By Mark Ruschau
New Knoxville alone on top of MAC
Rangers' defense wins out in battle of state-ranked teams
FORT RECOVERY - Going into Friday night's Midwest Athletic Conference matchup of state-ranked teams at Fort Site Fieldhouse between the third-ranked team in Division IV poll (New Knoxville) and the 11th ranked team in the same poll (Fort Recovery), the buzz centered around the potential of an offensive shootout as both teams came into the game averaging over 65 points an outing.
What was lost in all the pregame buzz centering around the offenses was the fact that New Knoxville also had one of the stingiest defenses in the area, giving up just a shade over 40 points a game.
It was the New Knoxville defense that was the story of this one as they dominated the Indians offense, propelling the visitors to a 53-38 win.
"I know Fort Recovery has lost three games now, but I still think they are damn good team and they were a good challenge for us tonight," said New Knoxville coach Dan Hegemier. "I thought our kids played well tonight and it will prepare us for next week and the weeks to come."
New Knoxville remains perfect on the season at 10-0 overall and find themselves all alone at the top of the conference standings at 3-0. Fort Recovery, losers of three in a row, falls to 6-4 on the season and 2-2 in the MAC.
On the night, Fort Recovery shot a good percentage, but made just 14 field goals (in 28 shots) and turned the ball over 16 times.
New Knoxville did a great job on Fort Recovery's leading scorer, Clint Tobe, as they held him to just 10 points. Tobe came into the game averaging almost 15 points a contest.
"Obviously we were playing against a good defensive team," said Fort Recovery coach Brian Patch in regard to his team's second half offensive struggles. "They are not going to give you anything easy, they do a great job of ball pressure. Unlike most teams, we do not have a player that we can go to inside and so we have to be aggressive and make sure every shot that we take is a good shot for a particular situation and we did not have that tonight.
"Obviously, Clint Tobe is a pretty good player for us and I do not think that he was aggressive tonight offensively," continued Patch. "When we needed him to score a bucket for us, it did not happen enough and part of that is not us looking for him as well. Give New Knoxville credit for making us struggle, but we need to do a better job of getting him the ball."
New Knoxville used a solid final four minutes on both ends of the floor at the end of the third period to take control of the game.
Leading just 30-27, the Rangers scored the last seven points of the period, baskets by Josh Niemeyer and Austin Arnett and a three-point field goal from Tony Meyer to take a 37-27 lead after three and Fort Recovery came no closer then eight the rest of the way.
In the second half, New Knoxville hit 11-of-21 shots from the floor, including three-of-five from three point range. New Knoxville turned the ball over just eight times in the game, just three times in the second half.
Meyer and Niemeyer led the way for the Rangers with 14 points each.
"In the first half we weren't able to put as much pressure defensively on the ball as we wanted to and then we would come down to the offensive end, make one pass and throw up a shot or we would try to force the ball inside to Ross Stienecker or we would miss some bunnies. We just did not have a good flow on either end in the first half," said Hegemier. "In the second half, we got into a better flow, we ran some different kinds of sets offensively and our defense I thought was outstanding in the second half."
Fort Recovery returns to action Friday on the road at St. Henry.
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Mostly cloudy, showers
Mostly cloudy, showers