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Friday, March 7th, 2014
By Gary R. Rasberry
Hot-shooting Eagles clip Redskins
Division III Boys Basketball District Semifinals
ADA - It was a double whammy of sorts for the St. Henry Redskins on Thursday.
A cold shooting effort was doubly impacted by Liberty-Benton's hot shooting as the Eagles dispatched the Redskins 57-34 in the Division III district semifinals at the King Horn Center on the campus of Ohio Northern University.
The Eagles (19-4) faces Lima Central Catholic in the district final on Saturday for a berth in the regionals. LCC beat Carey 84-61 in the nightcap at Ada.
The Redskins end their season at 18-8, snapping a nine-game winning streak.
Liberty-Benton got things going right away as 6-5 sophomore post player Nathan Craft scored the first six points of the game by getting inside the paint and going hard to the bucket. It took half a quarter before St. Henry could manage to dent the scoreboard as Evan Prenger scored the first Redskin points.
The Redskins got back into the game towards the end of the first quarter, trailing 13-9 after one quarter and cutting the score to 14-11 early in the second quarter as Ryan Mikesell was able to break free for some shots. Three-points, though, was all the closer St. Henry was able to get as Craft and Ryan Geise began an inside-outside combination that put the Eagles up 29-18 at halftime.
"They're a hard team to play against when they're in the lead," Eagles coach Steve Williman said of St. Henry. "They're going to spread it out and attack you off the dribble to create shots for their shooters and also go to the line. It was important to get out to a great start and get the lead early."
The shooting percentages told the tale. St. Henry was 7-of-26 from the floor in the first half (26.9 percent) and 1-of-8 from the three-point line. Liberty-Benton was 10-of-15 from the floor.
"The pressure definitely didn't help matters," said Mikesell. "But we've seen that pressure so many times this year and we've finished our layups and made shots. Tonight we didn't. That starts with me."
"The first half, we were hurt on the offensive glass," Williman said. ""At halftime, we had them for eight or nine offensive rebounds (St. Henry finished with 14 offensive boards). That was a point of emphasis in the second half. Mikesell can do so many things with the basketball. He can create and score for himself and create for his teammates. I thought our kids did a good job defensively, but also a night St. Henry didn't shoot it as well they typically do."
The second half was a continuation of the struggles of St. Henry. The Eagles scored the first seven points of the second half to go up 36-18. At one point the Eagles were shooting 70 percent from the field before "cooling" down to shoot 58.8 percent for the game, 32 percentage points better than the 26.5 percent St. Henry shot on the night.
"The biggest moment, for me, was the start of the second half with the 7-0 run," said St. Henry coach Eric Rosenbeck. "From there, it was scramble time because we know how efficient they were with the basketball and how good of free throw shooters they were (Liberty-Benton was 14-of-17 from the foul line). We pressed a little more than we needed to and it got away from us."
The only highlight of the night for the Redskins was Mikesell reaching a career milestone. The junior entered the game needing just seven points to become the 15th St. Henry player to reach 1,000 points. The struggles early slowed his march, but a bunny with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter put him at 1,001 points.
Mikesell finished with 14 to lead St. Henry. Tyler Schwieterman, one of four seniors playing their last game, added seven.
The balanced Eagles, who had all five starters averaging double figures coming into the game, were led by Craft's 19 points and nine rebounds. Geise added 15 with Adam Cytlak scoring 10.
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