By Ryan Hines
An inspirational and near record-setting performance by Tim Homan along with another outstanding night at the free-throw line helped Celina win a Division I sectional title at Liberty-Benton on Friday as the Bulldogs defeated Anthony Wayne, 65-57.
Its the first sectional title for Celina since the 1999-2000 season as the Bulldogs improve to 18-4 on the year.
“It’s great to get a sectional title because we haven’t had one in a few years and these kids all deserve it,” said Celina head coach Mike Kanney. “Hopefully we can keep it going and keep our tournament run alive.”
Celina is back in action at Liberty-Benton on Thursday for a district semifinal matchup against Lima Senior (17-4), which was a 68-53 winner over Perrysburg behind 36 points from star Spartan Travis Walton. Anthony Wayne’s season comes to a halt as the Generals finish 10-12.
Celina gets to head back to Liberty-Benton one more time, largely due to a sensational clutch performance by Homan who finished with a game-high 31 points on 10-of-15 shooting from the field.
It’s the third 30-point game for Homan on the year and his performance on Friday leaves him just three points shy of taking over as Celina’s all-time leading scorer. Homan now has 1,125 points for his career while Jay VanderHorst (1977-1980) sits clearly in his sights with 1,127 points.
The Bulldogs trailed for nearly the entire game until Homan caught fire in the fourth quarter. Trailing by four points entering the fourth quarter, Homan, who scored 14 points in the final stanza alone, gave the Bulldogs their first lead (51-49) since early in the first quarter on a three-pointer with 4:29 left in the game.
Anthony Wayne answered with two free throws from Joe McVicker to tie the score again, but Homan came back with a fadeaway jumper on the baseline giving Celina a two-point advantage.
“We were down at halftime and I wanted to come out and be a little more aggressive in the second half,” said Homan, who also added a game-high six rebounds. “I looked for my shot a little more and the guys were really looking for me and got me the ball in the post and that helped out a lot. I kept getting more confidence with each shot that I made. I was a little surprised that they didn’t double team me once I got hot.”
“Timmy got hot in the second half and we ran a few special plays for him and he responded,” said Kanney. “He’s quite a player. I got on him a little at halftime because I thought he was a little lackadaisical but he came out aggressive in the second half.”
After Anthony Wayne’s Brandon Cramer knotted the game at 53-53, Scott Boley went to the line after getting fouled on a three-point shot and hit two of his three attempts to give the Bulldogs a 55-53 lead with 1:44 left in the contest.
McVicker, Anthony Wayne’s leading scorer on the season at 24.7 points per game, then missed two freebies with a chance to tie the score.
Celina and Anthony Wayne then exchanged field goals leaving the Green and White up by two points until the Bulldogs were able to put the game away at the free-throw line. The Bulldogs hit all eight of their free throws over the final minute of play to clinch the sectional championship.
The Bulldogs have been near perfect in the tournament at the codeity stripe as Celina hit 24-of-26 (92 percent) against Anthony Wayne after converting on 23-of-25 against Bowling Green on Wednesday.
“I’ll take that kind of shooting at the free-throw line on any night,” stated Kanney. “Like I’ve said before, we work on it hard in practice and if you can shoot like that in the game, it will win some games for you. You have to make them down the stretch of a game to win and we did that.”
Boley, who hit six-of-seven at the line in the fourth quarter, made 10 of his 11 attempts in the game while Homan made good on all of his nine opportunities.
“When you play in a game like this, you know that free throws are going to be important and we shot them well as a team,” said Boley who scored 12 points in the contest. “We work hard on them in practice and it’s paying off for us, especially over the past two games.”
Celina needed all of its success at the free-throw line after watching McVicker dominate play in the first half of action. McVicker scored 29 points in the game for Anthony Wayne, with 20 of those markers coming in the first half where no Celina defender could slow him down.
McVickers’ night was interrupted early in the third quarter when the Anthony Wayne senior injured his ankle trying to chase down a loose ball going out of bounds. McVicker and Boley chased the ball beyond the baseline and it appeared McVicker injured his ankle falling out of bounds just 38 seconds into the second half.
“They did a great job of finding McVicker early and he scores 20 in the first half so that was a major concern for us at halftime,” admitted Kanney. “We tried a couple of different things against them and we talked about being more aggressive on him in the second half.”
The Generals’ offense was never the same throughout the second half as Celina outscored Anthony Wayne 38-22 in the final two quarters.