Saturday, February 23rd, 2008
By Gary R. Rasberry
St. Henry, Parkway pick up D-III sectional titles
  WAPAKONETA - It appeared the same gremlins that helped knocked off the top seeds at last week's Division IV girls sectional at Wapakoneta would come back to do the same for the Division III boys at the same venue.
Parkway used a tremendous rally at the end of the first half to take a lead, then staved off a Marion Local rally in the third quarter to beat the top-seeded Flyers, 53-49, in the first game of Friday's sectional doubleheader.
In the nightcap, Coldwater was looking for a second win on the season over St. Henry, but the second-seeded Redskins used solid defense and clutch free-throw shooting to end the Cavaliers' season, 44-38.
Parkway (12-10), winning its first sectional title in seven years - and just the fourth time since the school was established -, will face Ottawa-Glandorf in the first game of the Elida District Tournament on Wednesday at 6:15 p.m. at the Elida Fieldhouse. St. Henry (13-8), will play Division III poll champion Liberty-Benton in the nightcap.
Parkway 53, Marion Local 49
It looked like the Flyers were beginning to pull away after a Luke Bertke free throw put Marion up 20-12 with 4:36 to go in the first half and forced the Panthers to take a timeout.
Instead, the timeout cranked up the scoring machine known as Josh Fisher. In a span of 96 seconds, the Panther junior buried a trio of three-pointers and a two-pointer to move Parkway from down eight to up 23-20. Fisher scored 13 of the Panthers' final 18 points of the first half and Parkway went into the half up 30-22.
"I thought our guys showed great composure," said Panthers coach Doug Hughes. "When the game was on the line, even throughout the game, I thought they did a super job. Not getting too high when things were good and not too low when things were getting rattled."
"We had opportunities, had we functioned the way we should, we could have had a nice lead at the end of the first quarter," said Flyers coach Keith Westrick. "They were throwing the ball away (Parkway had five first-quarter turnovers, but just five over the last three quarters) and we'd go down and rush our offense. During the time they started scoring, we didn't locate Fisher and he knocked down four threes."
But just as fast as the Panthers had taken the lead, the Flyers bounced back behind the shooting of Alex Moeller. The senior guard scored eight straight points for the Flyers to cut into the Panther lead and whittle it down to 31-29 with 5:05 left in the third. With 2:47 left to go, Chris Stucke drained a bucket to tie the game at 31-all.
The teams were tied again three times until the 5:15 mark of the fourth quarter when Stucke hit a pair of free throws to give the Flyers a 41-39 lead. After a Parkway miss, Jordan Schmackers buried a basket to make it 43-39 in favor of Marion.
Fisher, held to two points in the third quarter, came back with a vengeance, hitting a pair of free throws to cut it to two, then after a Flyer turnover, drove the lane and scored while getting fouled. The free throw make put Parkway up 44-43 with 3:49 left.
The teams traded the lead over the next 90 seconds with the Flyers up 47-46 with 2:21 left. Marion then took a hit to its game when Jordan Winner, saddled with foul trouble much of the game, picked up his fifth foul on a charge call that brought some protests from the Flyers' bench.
"He was a big key in the game we played at our place. He had 24 points and I thought he really dominated the basketball game," said Hughes of Winner. "We gave up a lot of lobs and free throws (in the first meeting)."
After Winner's departure, the Flyers were able to raise the lead to 49-46 on a Marcus Moeller bucket, prompting Parkway to call a timeout.
After the break, Parkway looked for Fisher beyond the arc, missing twice but having Zach Bates get the rebound both times, getting fouled on the second board and sending him to the line with 46.1 seconds left. Bates sank both free throws to cut the deficit to one as Parkway set up the press. Fisher was able to force a steal and drove in for the layup with 33 seconds left to put Parkway up 50-49.
After the Flyers called a timeout, Marion was looking for Stucke for the bucket, but the seniors three-point try missed. Thompson pulled down the board and was fouled. Thompson made one-of-two with 16.2 seconds left to make it 51-49. Bertke got the rebound and was fouled. Bertke miss the front end of the one-and-one as Thompson again got the rebound and threw to Derik Snyder, who was fouled.
The Parkway senior made both shots to make it a four-point game. Marion's three-point try near the buzzer was pulled down by Thompson ending the game.
"You knew they were going to make a run at us. It was just a matter of us stepping up and making some plays," said Hughes. "I thought Zach Bates' free throws were huge. I thought Josh's steal and conversion was a big play.
"We talk about wanting to be a star, be a player, you have to step up and make plays when the game is on the line. That's what they did."
"I thought both teams worked hard," said Westrick. "Overall, both teams played well at times and made some foolish errors at times. Typical high school basketball game."
Fisher finished with a 25-point night to lead Parkway. Thompson added 15 points and 12 rebounds.
Stucke wraps up his basketball career at Marion with 18 points while Schmackers added eight points.
St. Henry 44, Coldwater 38
The rematch of the Backyard Battle proved to a defensive struggle, as both teams came up big in limiting the shots of the other team.
"You figured it would be like that," said St. Henry coach Joe Niekamp. "Probably be a low-possession game, physical bodies out there. Fortunately, we were able to eke out enough of a lead. I don't think they had one of their better shooting nights. I told the kids I was really happy for our seniors and the way they stepped up out there, played together and put it together and did some nice things.
"After a tough stretch down here at the end of the season, that's what's nice about tournament. It's 0-0, a whole new season and time to start a new one."
The Cavaliers, 24-point winners at St. Henry during the regular season, had trouble finding the hole during the game. Coldwater was 6-of-26 from behind the three-point line and just 12-of-47 from the field overall in the contest.
"We didn't shoot the ball very well. That's the bottom line," said Cavaliers coach Mike Kanney. "I thought we had some good looks in the first half. We didn't get many threes. I kept telling the kids if they get good looks, put them up. Even with that, we had it to a one-point game with two minutes to go."
With Coldwater ice cold from the outside, that allowed the Redskins to bottle up the middle. Cav center Eric Lefeld, hampered by fouls, was held to 1-of-7 shooting and three points total in the game.
"I think they weren't knocking down a lot of perimeter shots, we were able to put a little more pressure on him in there," said Niekamp. "I thought that was a great team defensive effort."
"That was huge, especially when you're not hitting from the perimeter," said Kanney. "You have to keep plugging and keep working. That's what the kids did."
St. Henry was able to mix up the inside and outside game in the first half. Ryan Wehrkamp had all eight of his points in the first half thanks to a pair of three-pointers while senior Darren Siefring was able to work hard inside, scoring seven of his game-high 11 points in the first half.
Still, St. Henry led by just a 21-16 margin at the half and were up 25-22 after three quarters. Coldwater got as close as 38-37 late in the fourth quarter, but were forced to foul late.
The Redskins, especially senior Jared Schwieterman, was clutch in the final 90 seconds of the game from the charity stripe. Schwieterman was 7-of-10 from the foul line in the fourth quarter en route to a 10-point night thanks to 8-of-12 free-throw shooting. Siefring added a pair of free throws late.
"That's a couple of captains (Schwieterman and Siefring), and you can throw Ryan Wehrkamp in there, they stepped it up tonight," said Niekamp. "They played like they really wanted this one bad."
Keith Wenning led Coldwater off the bench with nine points.
Additional online stories for this date
Print edition only stories for this date
• St. Marys library officials unsure of future funding
• Area residents injured in local accidents
• Celina, St. Marys out of postseason
• Rangers win easily; Indians avoid upset
• Celina relay and Subler earn all-Ohio accolades
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