Wednesday, February 20th, 2008
By Gary R. Rasberry
An all-MAC sectional title game
  WAPAKONETA - It will be an all-Midwest Athletic Conference sectional final Friday night after the two MAC teams dispatched the two Northwest Conference teams from the Division III sectional at Wapakoneta.
Parkway and Coldwater overcame sluggish first halves to advance. Parkway took the lead for good with 3:19 left in the contest to beat Lima Central Catholic 52-49 in the opening game while Coldwater rebounded from being down seven points to Spencerville in the first quarter to pull away late for the 49-40 win in the nightcap.
Friday night shapes up to be a stellar night for basketball. Parkway (11-10) faces top-seed Marion Local in the opening game at 6:15 p.m., followed by Coldwater (13-7) looking to get its second win of the season against a St. Henry team that did not win a game after picking up the second seed at the Wapak sectional. The winners advance to Elida next week for district play.
Parkway 52, LCC 49
The Panthers struggled early against the Thunderbirds. LCC led 19-17 at the half after outscoring Parkway 10-6 in the second quarter.
Parkway played most of the second quarter without Jordan Thompson and Derik Snyder after the pair picked up two fouls. The Panthers' bench, especially Marcus Meyer, Danny Knapke and Shaun Coffman, came in and played well to keep LCC from gaining a big lead.
"I thought that was a huge key for us," said Parkway head coach Doug Hughes. "We were able to have Derik and Jordan on the bench for extended periods of time in the second quarter and keep the game in reach. If it (the deficit) would have gotten to six or eight points, we would have had both those guys back in to make sure it didn't get away from us. Have to give credit to Marcus, Danny, Drew Luginbill and Shaun, they came in and stepped up to make the plays that needed to be made."
The third quarter saw the Panthers with new life. Within 90 seconds, three-pointers from Snyder and Josh Fisher helped Parkway tie things up. The teams traded the lead for the remainder of the quarter and into the fourth quarter.
"I got on (Fisher) at halftime and rode a couple of our players," said Hughes. "It looked like we were down on ourselves, whether or not we could make plays to win the basketball game. ... My message to them at halftime was 'Don't play mind games with yourself, just go out there and play."
A Sam Stolly three-pointer with 4 1/2 minutes left in the game put the Thunderbirds up 44-41. After Fisher scored a deuce to get it to one, Stolly was fouled going for a three-pointer. Parkway got a break as Stolly managed just one free throw out of the three, making it a two-point game.
Fisher, held to just four points in the first half, got open and nailed a three-pointer with 3:19 to go putting Parkway up 46-45.
Things got heated two minutes later as a scrum for the ball resulted in nearly every player on the floor diving in. When the pile was cleared, referees called a foul on LCC's Desi Kirkman, which made veteran T-Bird coach Bob Seggerson unhappy. Snyder nailed both tosses to make it 48-45.
Stolly was fouled on the other end with 1:08 left and missed both free throws, but Kirkman rebounded and put the ball in with 52.3 seconds left to cut the deficit to one.
Parkway wisely got the ball to Snyder, the area's top free-throw shooter at just over 83 percent, on the ensuing inbounds pass when LCC looked to foul. Snyder made them both to put the Panthers up 50-47. Joel Stolly scored to make it 50-49.
On the inbounds, Craig Bills got the ball and was fouled. Bills, just 4-of-13 from the line on the season, made the first one to make it 51-49, but missed the second. Joel Stolly tried a bucket but missed as Snyder got the rebound and was fouled again with two seconds left. Snyder made one of two to make a three-point game.
The long inbounds pass by LCC was picked off to end the game.
Fisher led the way for Parkway with 19 points, 10 coming in the third quarter.
"He really stepped up and hit some big shots for us," said Hughes.
Thompson and Zach Bates each had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
Sam Stolly had 17 points for LCC (10-11). Kirkman had 11 with Joel Stolly adding 10.
Coldwater 49, Spencerville 40
The Bearcats (5-16) came out shooting to start the game. Mark Hatfield and Drew Ring each nailed three-pointers early as the Bearcats took a 12-5 lead, prompting Cavaliers coach Mike Kanney to call a timeout with 3:44 left in the opening quarter.
The break came at the right time as the Cavaliers came out of the timeout and went on a 10-0 run to end the quarter and take a 15-12 lead. Senior Ryan Geier had the hot hand early, scoring 10 of his game-high 20 points in the first quarter.
"Ryan got us going," said Kanney. "He made some big plays, had some big steals and hit some big shots. We had a lead at the quarter. That was huge. I took the timeout, sort of regrouped and hit some big shots."
After Coldwater made it 12 straight points with a bucket to start the second quarter, but Spencerville came back with a 8-2 run of its own to go up 20-19. The teams traded the lead for the rest of the quarter, with Coldwater going up 24-22 at halftime on a Justin Goubeaux bunny.
Spencerville tied it up at 24-all to start the third quarter, but a pair of Eric Lefeld free throws with 6:19 left in the period allowed Coldwater to take the lead for what would be the rest of the game. The Bearcats suffered through a four-minute scoreless streak as Coldwater slowly increased its lead.
By the middle of the fourth quarter, the Cavaliers were nearing a double-digit lead, only to have the Bearcats hit some timely shots to get closer. Coldwater didn't help themselves by suffering a cold spell from the foul line, missing five straight foul shots in a span of nearly two minutes before rebounding and hitting seven straight to end the ballgame.
"We could do a little better at the free-throw line," said Kanney, whose squad was 13-of-24 for the game. "... I know our kids can shoot free throws. It's just a matter of relaxing, going and knocking them down. You've got to this time of year."
In addition to Geier's 20, Lefeld scored 10, thanks to a 6-of-9 night from the foul line. Keith Wenning came off the bench to score eight.
Tyler Keysor was the only Bearcat in double figures, scoring 13 points to go along with 10 rebounds.
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