Wednesday, March 3rd, 2010
By Ryan Hines
St. Marys blown out of tourney by Van Wert
Division II Boys Sectional at Lima Senior
LIMA - The first year of the Dan Hegemier era is now complete at St. Marys, and although the Roughriders' program has shown drastic improvement this season, the Blue and Gold ran into a Van Wert buzzsaw on Tuesday night.
Van Wert shot 64 percent from the floor and coasted to a convincing 74-43 win over St. Marys during Division II sectional semifinal action at Lima Senior High School.
The Cougars (17-4) now get to face top-seeded Elida (11-9) on Friday night at 6:15 p.m. while Shawnee (7-14), a 71-60 winner over Wapakoneta in Tuesday's second semifinal, will meet up with Celina (12-8) in the nightcap at Lima Senior.
St. Marys bows out of the tournament with a lop-sided loss, but there is no doubt that the Roughriders are a team on the rise under the leadership of Hegemier. The Roughriders were 4-39 the past two seasons but finished this year 7-14.
"I think that our guys have come a long way this year from where we started," said Hegemier. "Seven wins isn't a lot for some people, but it is an improvement for us and we will get better for next year."
Van Wert head coach Dave Froelich also spoke about the improvement that he has seen out of the St. Marys program this season.
"St. Marys has been playing well, probably 10 or 11 points better than when we faced them earlier in the season," said Van Wert head coach Dave Froelich. "They (St. Marys) have made big improvements since the beginning of the season. You can just see that it is coming. The time to get them is now, because they will continue to get better and better with some of the young kids they have and they have a future Hall of Fame coach that knows how to win. There's a lot of reason for optimism for them."
Van Wert was clearly the better team on Tuesday night and the statistics bear this out. The Cougars, who had 10 different players score at least two points in the game, shot 30-of-47 from the field and outrebounded the Roughriders 31-19.
"I'll take that," said Froelich when he heard how well the Cougars shot from the field. "We're a lot smarter and a lot better when shots are falling for us. We got into a little bit of a flow and got some good looks at the basket. We got more comfortable shooting the further that we got ahead. We did a good job on the boards too."
Hegemier was impressed with what he saw from Van Wert.
"We got behind and panicked a little bit," said Hegemier. "Van Wert is a good team and we needed to make some of those early shots that we missed to hang with them. Then they came out of halftime with a lot of confidence and just kept hitting shots. They are a very good team."
St. Marys hung right with Van Wert and it trailed by just two points at 11-8 when the Cougars lost standout point guard Corey Clifton to a second foul with 28 seconds to play in the second quarter.
Without Clifton on the floor, it looked like a chance for St. Marys to make a run, but Van Wert thrived with its floor leader on the bench. The Cougars immediately went on a 14-0 run to put Van Wert on top 25-8 with 4:02 before halftime.
"Our guys, like Jacob Hood, came in and really orchestrated some things for us," said Froelich. "They (St. Marys) went to a zone and we did a good job of attacking it."
Van Wert took a 27-12 lead into halftime and put the game out of reach in the third quarter with Clifton leading the charge for the Cougars. Clifton scored 10 points in the third quarter and Van Wert shot 12-of-16 from the field in the quarter as the Cougars held a commanding 55-29 advantage heading into the final eight minutes of play.
Hegemier, who has won three state titles during his incredible coaching career, knows what his team needs to focus on in order to keep the Roughriders heading in the right direction.
"When I first got here, we couldn't pass the ball, we couldn't catch the ball and we couldn't dribble the ball, but I think that the guys are getting better in those areas," said Hegemier. "You can't ask for the world in one year, Rome wasn't built in one day. We'll keep getting better and keep trying harder and harder. Our fundamentals have to get better, it sounds simple, but those are the types of things that we have to do to get better."
It was a struggle all night for the Roughriders who shot 14-of-44 from the field (32 percent). Paul Pfenning led the Roughriders with 11 points while Derek Roop, Garet Fledderjohann and Scott Kinkley all scored nine points apiece.
Clifton scored 13 of his game-high 17 points in the second half to pace the Cougars' scoring attack while Jacob Bagley added 16 points.
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