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03-03-04: Tight games highlight Elida tournament

Parkway falls short to Jays; Cavs hold on

ELIDA — Those in attendance were treated to close games at the Division III boys basketball sectional on Tuesday at the Elida Fieldhouse as the winners of the semifinals won by a combined 12 points.
The nightcap was the shocker of the tournament as 1-19 Parkway stayed close with St. John’s all evening before losing 53-47 to end its season. The Panthers pulled down more rebounds (35-33) and had a better shooting percentage (36 percent to 33 percent) but saw St. John’s have a short hot spell in the second quarter to come away with the win.
In the first game, Coldwater blew a 10-point lead in the fourth quarter but recovered to beat Spencerville 63-57 to advance to a rematch on Friday against rival St. Henry.

St. John’s 53, Parkway 47
As has been the case most of the season, Parkway put together three strong quarters against the Blue Jays, but one small stretch in the second quarter did in the Panthers.
Both teams started out cold as neither team could score for the first 3:20 of the second quarter. That changed quickly as Jeff Unterbrink hit back-to-back three-pointers within a span of 87 seconds to make a 12-11 Panther lead turn into a 17-12 St. John’s lead. With two minutes left, Matt Webb added a trey to push it to 20-12 as Parkway coach Rusty Allen called a timeout.
Webb went back to work after the break with a three-pointer to make it 23-12 before the Panthers finally scored with 40 seconds left in the half. All 15 St. John’s points in the quarter came from behind the three-point arc.
“We tried to mix things up on them, but that was their hot streak,” said Allen. “That’s what put them over the top tonight. That’s kinda been the story of our season. We get down 10-12, then we fight back and fight back.”
Good thing for St. John’s that they were hitting the long ball as the Blue Jays were 8-of-17 from behind the three-point line but just 1-of-8 from in front of the line.
“We were struggling mightily,” said St. John’s coach Brett Norris. “We had a good stretch coming at the end of the half. We got some wide-open shots. We got that little run to get the gap that we needed.”
The hot hand that ended the first half turned into the cold shoulder for the rest of the game as the Blue Jays shot 30 percent (6-of-20) the rest of the game, including just one more three-pointer in 12 attempts in the second half.
That allowed the Panthers, who trailed 26-16 at the half, to come back slowly through the rest of the game. Parkway cut it to 38-32 at the end of three quarters.
Parkway kept chugging away at the deficit and with 6:26 left in the game a three-pointer from Jordan Heckler put the Panthers within three points at 40-37. This time, Norris called timeout.
After the break, Webb drove to the hoop and scored after getting fouled to push the lead back up to 43-37 with the made free throw. That sparked the Blue Jays to push the lead back up to 49-37 with 1:48 left before a last-chance run by Parkway got it back down to single digits.
“There’s no such thing as an easy tournament game,” said Norris. “I think anybody who makes those statements are crazy. I don’t care what their record is, it’s a different ballgame. It was to our advantage to play tonight. We didn’t play especially well but you have to give credit to a group of kids that struggled all season and they were here and fought us tough.”
“We had our chances down the stretch,” said Allen. “I’ve been real pleased with our effort all season. ... You don’t like to go out with a loss, but unless you’re the Division III state champion, only one team is going to win.”
Webb finished with 18 to pace the Blue Jays and Ryan Patton added 11.
Parkway was led by Chad Sapp’s 10 points while Justin Hamrick came off the bench for nine points.
St. John’s plays Lima Central Catholic in a rematch of the game which was won by the Thunderbirds earlier this season.
Coldwater 63, Spencervile 57.
The first words Don Vogt said to his team after the Cavaliers held off the Bearcats were simple.
“I told them that was one of the first games where I saw the kids actually playing like they were going to refuse to lose instead of being shaky,” said Vogt as the Cavaliers improve to 9-12 with the win. “We’ve done that a couple of times and it’s come back to hurt us. I’m glad they picked this game to step it up.”
The Cavaliers led by 12 points at the start of the fourth quarter, only to see the Bearcats (14-7) come back and tie the game at 53-53 on an Isaac Bowers three-pointer. Vogt called a timeout with 2:43 left to settle things down and the Cavaliers responded by scoring five straight points — all at the foul line — in a span of 1:25 to go up 58-53.
All the Bearcats could counter with in the final minute was a free throw and a three-pointer from freshman Logan Nourse.
“I told them to keep playing defense,” said Vogt on the timeout. “They were doing so well as far as being intense, taking things away from (Spencerville), checking out and holding them to just one shot. I told them to keep playing hard.”
It was a mix of a strong bench game for the Cavaliers and Craig Koesters’ personal effort to refuse to lose.
The Cavalier senior was 11-of-17 from the floor on the night to lead all players with 27 points. Koesters also pulled down seven rebounds and had several big defensive stops.
“That 27-point performance was outstanding for that senior,” said Vogt.
The bench also played a big role for the Cavaliers. Vogt was able to go a little deeper into his bench than he did during the season, allowing Chad Miller and Mike Lefeld to get in a little earlier than usual. Lefeld came up big hitting a first-half three-pointer but made a bigger impact with two free throws with 1:18 left in the game that put the Cavaliers up five.
“Mike (five points) did a nice job offensively and defensively after that first free throw (a miss of a one-and-bonus in the first half),” said Vogt with a grin. “He admitted he was a little nervous. Brandon Bettinger (six points, four rebounds) did a nice job, playing a position he’s not nessecarily used to (down in the post). He did a nice job down there.”
Spencerville had trouble at the line all evening, making just seven in 17 attempts, off-setting a decent night from the field (45.8 percent).
“Good teams make free throws down the stretch and we did not,” said Bearcat coach Kevin Sensabaugh. “I thought we got good efforts from a couple of different guys but just not a solid team effort. Coldwater did a much better job on the boards than we did (34 to 27), but we did play hard and fought back into it. We tried our butts off to get back into it.”
Nourse and Eli Waltz each scored 15 to lead Spencerville while Bowers finished with 10.
Coldwater ticket sales: Tickets for Friday’s game with St. Henry at Elida will be on sale through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. in the high school office and on sale tonight from 6 to 7 p.m. in the Commons.
Tickets are $5 for adults and $4 for students with all tickets at the door $5. There will be a charge for parking at Elida and doors open at 5:15 p.m.


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