By Marc Tobias
WAPAKONETA — Marion Local received a big shooting night from Russell Moeller, and it was able to weather its offensive lulls because of a stellar defensive performance to post a 64-45 win over Minster in the Division IV district championship game at Redskins gymnasium.
Moeller came up with a number of big shots en route to posting 23 points on 8-of-14 shooting, and the Flyers defense was able to hold Minster to just 13-of-43 (30 percent) shooting from the field while forcing the Wildcats into 17 turnovers.
“Toward the end of that ball game it was pretty sweet to watch us match with each one of their three shooters playing our 2-3 defense,” said Marion Local coach Keith Westrick. “They still figured out some things, all of a sudden they started dropping into the post but at least they were shooting twos instead of threes, and with that team that’s something.”
Moeller, meanwhile, ignited Marion Local’s offense with back-to-back three-pointers to put the Flyers on top 8-4 midway in the first quarter.
Wes Everman and Cory Luebke then hit buckets and Marion Local jumped out to an early 14-6 lead.
Minster struggled offensively all night, but especially in the first eight minutes where it made just 3-of-13 field goals to go with eight turnovers.
“We called a quick timeout early to try and settle the kids down, and some of the turnovers were unforced and we weren’t getting a shot or look at the basket because of that,” said Minster coach Mike Lee. “They were just a tough matchup for us, and if you look at them over the course of the last four or five games they’re playing with a lot of confidence.”
Marion Local was suffocating the Wildcats outside shooters, and rarely did Minster get an open look from behind the three-point arc. Minster finished by making 5-of-18 (27 percent) from long range.
“We struggled early from the perimeter and then I think we really got too perimeter oriented,” Lee said. “We’d come down the floor, 20-25 feet from the basket, yeah we’d hit one but then we’d go two or three possessions without anything.
“We had nine or 10 threes against them the first time, and we tried to stress to our kids that we were going to have to try and get more on the inside against them then we did the first time around,” Lee added.
The offense struggles led to some poor judgment on defense as well, and by the 2:48 mark in the second quarter, five Minster players had accumulated at least two fouls.
Four straight Marion Local free throws around the same time helped put the Flyers up 25-17, and then a three-pointer from Moeller and an offensive stickback by Ryan Winner gave the Flyers a 30-18 lead at halftime.
Moeller had 12 points at the half, and finished the game by making 5-of-9 from behind the three-point arc.
“Once I hit the first couple I knew I was on, so I felt I could make them so I just kept shooting and they just kept falling,” Moeller said.
Unfortunately for Minster, the only Wildcats player that took more than one shot and finished at 50 percent shooting from the field was Andy Beckman who made 4-of-8 from the field, including 3-of-6 from three-point land.
Beckman finished was finished with 13 points, but he was in early foul trouble as he had to sit at the 5:09 mark of the first quarter with two fouls.
That left the majority of the outside scoring load on Dane Sommer, who the Flyers were able to blanket most of the night. Sommer finished with nine points and five rebounds but was held to 3-of-13 shooting.
“He just kind of struggled, and he’s had games where he gets off to a great start by hitting one or two and then he’s just in a great flow,” Lee said. “Their pressure had a lot to do with that, and naturally as the game went on we didn’t sub as much for him as what we typically do, but some of his woes were a result of a hand in the face and pretty good pressure.”
“Their shooting was our number-one concern, and number two was penetration,” Westrick said. “Cordonnier penetrates very well, and Sommer penetrates very well. Sommer is just an all-around very good ball player. We were trying to control them and luckily we did it well enough to survive tonight.”
In the second half, Minster started to pound the ball inside to Josh Boeke and he helped cut the Flyers lead down to 33-26, but Moeller and Luebke three-pointers helped Marion Local end the third on an 8-1 run for a 41-27 lead.
The Flyers continued to cruise in the fourth quarter and they were able to build their lead up to 20 points before holding on for the 19-point win.
Luebke and Winner finished with 14 points for Marion Local with Luebke grabbing six rebounds.
Marion Local made 17-of-20 from the line with Winner paving the way by making 10-of-10 from the line.
Boeke finished with 10 points and seven rebounds while Cordonnier added nine points for Minster who ends its season at 15-8.
The Flyers improve to 15-9 and advance to the Oxford Regional where it will face Yellow Springs who knocked off Russia 54-51 in its district final.
Marion Local Ticket Information: Tickets for Tuesday’s regional semifinal game against Yellow Springs will be sold as follows:
Monday: 12:00 p.m.-1:00 p.m. at the High School office and 1:00 p.m.-3:30 p.m. in the Athletic office.
Tuesday: 11:45 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Middle School.