Monday, December 31st, 2007
Indians slip past Cavs in title game
By Gary R. Rasberry
Coldwater's Eric Lefeld, 50, fights for a rebound with Fort Recovery's Bobby Ram. . .
COLDWATER - If the conference matchup between Coldwater and Fort Recovery bears any resemblance to the championship game of the first Mercer Health Holiday Classic, it should be a dandy.
Fort Recovery was able to hold off a number of Coldwater rallies to take a 51-48 win in the inaugural tournament at The Palace in Coldwater. The Indians end 2007 with an 8-1 record while Coldwater drops to 3-2 on the year.
The win was both tempered and resounding considering the Indians were without Toby Metzger, the team leader in rebounds, assists and steals, for most of the game after the junior suffered a knee injury with around two minutes left in the first quarter. Metzger was helped off the court and was wearing a brace while sitting on the bench in the second half.
The loss of Metzger forced the Indians to consolidate roles and bring key bench players like Frank Thien and Brent Faller into a more significant role to fill the gap.
"First of all, it's a bittersweet win for us. We're obviously happy for the kids. We were able to hang on in a tough situation. At the same time, to lose one of your captains, your leaders, hustle guy and stat filler-upper," said Fort Recovery coach Brian Patch. "The guys just stepped it up. One of the timeouts, we told Clint (Tobe) and Greg (Kahlig) 'You guys have to step it up there.' Make sure the ball goes through those guys, make shots and plays for us.
"Basically, it was an overall team effort with everyone stepping up their game a little bit, doing a little bit more against a very good Coldwater team."
The teams traded leads five times in the second quarter, with Coldwater holding the slim 18-17 halftime lead. Fort Recovery came back to take the lead right off the bat in the third quarter, but Coldwater would hold on to take a 33-32 advantage going into the final quarter.
Greg Kahlig, however, would make the difference in the fourth quarter. The Fort Recovery sophomore standout, drove the lane for the hoop-and-harm seconds into the quarter to give the Indians the lead for good at 35-33 after the made free throw.
Clint Tobe added a big bucket to make it 37-33. Coldwater worked to answer as Ryan Geier nailed a three-pointer with 61/2 minutes left, then a free throw a minute later to cut Fort Recovery's lead to 40-39. Tyler Jutte made it a three-point game with free throws, then after a Coldwater miss, Bobby Rammel nailed a jumper to push the Indians' lead to 44-39.
The Indians raised their biggest lead to 46-39 with 3:49 to go. Coldwater worked its way back into the contest as Fort Recovery missed several big free throws that could have iced the game. The Cavaliers got it to 50-48 with 11.1 seconds left in the game when Zach Siefring drove the lane and was fouled while making the bucket.
Siefring missed the free throw as Faller rebounded and was fouled. Faller made the back end of the two-shot foul to make it a three-point game. Geier fired a three-pointer that just missed as time ran out.
"We probably missed some opportunities at the free-throw line," said Patch, whose squad was 14-of-20 from the stripe in the game, 10-of-15 in the fourth quarter. "To our kids' credit, they battled back and hit some shots to win."
"Give the Fort Recovery kids some credit. Without Metzger, they played very well," said Coldwater coach Mike Kanney. "We had our opportunities. First half we didn't shoot very well. (23.1 percent). Second half I thought we were much better, more patient. It would have been nice to knock down some free throws (Coldwater was 8-of-13 in the game). Hey, our kids battled, played very hard. It was a great game."
Kahlig finished the night with 23 points, earning the Most Valuable Player award in scoring 45 points in the tournament. Tobe joined Kahlig on the all-tournament team. Lefeld and Geier also made the all-tournament team, leading Coldwater with 12 and 10 points, respectively. Fort Loramie's Kyle Turner rounded out the all-tournament team.
Fort Recovery made it a clean sweep, taking the junior varsity championship game, beating Coldwater 45-43. Kyle Post led the Indians with 15 points.
Coldwater will host Fort Recovery again on Feb. 4 in the annual Midwest Athletic Conference contest.
Jake Westerheide scored 12 points and Kyle Turner added 10 as Fort Loramie earned third-place with a 47-39 win over Waynesfield-Goshen in the consolation game.
Adam Foley led the Tigers with 18 points.