By GARY R. RASBERRY
ELIDA — For the first 16 minutes of the Division III sectional final at Elida, the Coldwater Cavaliers had the St. Henry Redskins right where they wanted them.
Coldwater took care of the ball and defended its backyard rival well, going into the half up 21-18.
Then it got chilly at the Elida Fieldhouse. In fact, it got downright ice cold for the Cavaliers.
Coldwater couldn’t score in the third quarter, allowing St. Henry to go ahead and come away with a 50-30 win in the Division III sectional on Friday.
The Redskins (16-5) head to Ohio Northern University on Thursday to battle Northwest Ohio powerhouse Archbold. The Blue Streaks defeated Fairview 76-52 at the Napoleon sectional on Friday night. Coldwater ends its season at 9-13.
After shooting 8-of-25 in the first half (32 percent), the Cavaliers shot just 10.7 percent (3-of-28) in the second half.
Coldwater coach Don Vogt had just one explanation for the sudden polar mode his team’s shooting percentage took.
“We didn’t score,” said Vogt. “There was no difference. We had good looks and good shots. Craig (Koesters) was out with some foul trouble and the rest of the kids played as hard as they could. We got some looks but could not knock them down.”
Both teams had trouble putting the ball through the hoop on the evening at some point or another. There was nearly a four-minute stretch in the second quarter where neither team scored.
“Coldwater did a nice job in the man-to-man defense,” Redskin coach Joe Niekamp said of the first half cool spell. “We got a little hectic on the offensive end.”
For the first half of the third quarter, it looked like nothing changed too much. St. Henry did get the lead to start the half when Kurt Huelsman put up a bunny followed by an old-fashioned three-point play by Nate Stahl to make the score 23-21 in favor of St. Henry with 5:47 left in the quarter.
Then a spell of over three minutes passed before St. Henry scored again on a Ross Niekamp jumper to make the score 25-21. This time, however, St. Henry got hot and stayed hot as the Cavaliers continued to shoot and miss.
“I think in the first half we got away from our team ball,” said Niekamp. “In the second half we got back to the way we play and we were much more effective.”
Coldwater finally scored in the fourth quarter, ending a dry spell that lasted 9:55 over the span of three quarters.
The Redskins began to pound the ball into the twin towers combo of Steve Sutter and Kurt Huelsman in the fourth quarter and it payed dividends. Sutter scored six of his 11 points in the final quarter and Huelsman made five of his 12 points in the period.
Coldwater was forced to foul and started trying for the long ball with three-point shooting from Jeff Grieshop and Chad Geier, but the Redskins kept control and made the free throws down the stretch.
“I think our kids in the second half played solid defense,” said Niekamp. “Maybe with the bigger floor some lost their legs a bit and the shooting wasn’t real good. We were able to contest shots and get the rebounds.”
Vogt was pleased with his team’s effort despite the shooting woes. The Cavalier defense prevented St. Henry from getting any good looks from the three-point line as the Redskins missed all five of its attempts from the arc on the night.
“The kids went down fighting and that’s what we expect of them,” said Vogt. “Defensively we did exactly what we wanted to do. We helped off the best we could down in the post. They didn’t make a three all night, which was one of our goals.”
With Huelsman and Sutter getting guarded close in the first half, Jeremy Schwieterman stepped up to score for the Redskins. The senior point guard shared the high-score honors with Huelsman netting 12 points, six coming in the fourth quarter.
“He’s (Schwieterman) really been picking it up on the offensive end,” said Niekamp. “He’s been a real factor for us, being the quarterback and an outstanding defender. He’s given us another dimension, which really helps.”
Coldwater was paced by junior Chad Miller, who came off the bench for nine points. Chad Geier added eight points.LCC 45, St. John’s 44
Pat Stolly’s free throw with 8.5 seconds left lifted Lima Central Catholic to the other Division III sectional title at Elida with the one-point win over the Blue Jays. The Thunderbirds (14-7) will play Tinora at the Division III district semifinal at Ohio Northern on Thursday. The Rams defeated Wayne Trace 47-33 at Napoleon on Friday. The Blue Jays bow out this season at 14-7.
St. John’s made a big comeback in the fourth quarter after getting outscored 15-1 in the second period by LCC. The game was tied at 44 in the final minute as LCC set up a play for Stolly, who was fouled. Stolly made one of two free throws to get the lead. After a timeout, St. John’s looked for leading scorer Chad Reynolds with 3.4 seconds left in the game. Reynolds got the ball and got a good look at a 15-foot jumper but the shot hit the rim and bounced away, giving the T-Birds their second win of the season over the Jays.
Stolly led the way for LCC with 15 points while Jarin Johnson chipped in with 13 points. Reynolds led all scorers with 20 points while Matt Webb finished with 13.LCC (14-7)
Harruff 8, Stolly 15, Fairburn 4, Johnson 13, Rettig 4, Brown 1. Totals 11-20-45.St. John’s (14-8)
Webb 13, Hanf 2, Reynolds 20, Unterbrink 2, Shumaker 1, Ostendorf 6. Totals 13-12-44.Score by quarters:LCC 8 15 10 12 — 45St. John’s 15 1 10 18 — 44Three-pointers: LCC: Johnson 2, Haruff. St. John’s: Reynolds 3.