By Gary R. Rasberry
First Marion Local had to hold off a feisty group from Yellow Springs to make it to the Division IV regional finals on Friday at Millett Hall in Oxford.
Now the Flyers will face a team that not only rallied from a double-digit deficit but took the lead and won.
Jefferson overcame Fairlawn’s 15-point fourth-quarter lead to win 64-63 in the nightcap at Miami University to set up the matchup for a spot at the Schottenstein Center.
Flyer coach Keith Westrick certainly had a lot to see as he scouted the game after Marion’s 60-53 holdoff of Yellow Springs. One thing he noticed was the similar styles of play between Yellow Springs and Jefferson — both members of the Metro Buckeye Conference.
“There are a lot similarities: the style of ball they play, the way they both press and the way they both like to speed the game up,” said Westrick. “They did attack the basket, which is fine with us.”
Just as the Flyers had to deal with a pair of high-scoring players with Yellow Springs’s Dustin Rudegeair and Jordan Skinner, the Broncos bring a pair of scorers in Marquis Brooks and Milt Mobley.
Brooks, a 6-3 swingman, overcame the flu to score 23 points, 21 in the second half, against Fairlawn. Brooks finished the regular season ninth in the Dayton area in scoring with an average of 21.2 ppg. Brooks used an almost six-inch height advantage on the guards from Fairlawn to hit shots at the top of the key. Westrick, who has some size to work with, will look to counter.
“He usually gets the ball at the point a lot on the rotation,” said Westrick. “He loves to spin. He loves to move down, spin and shoot off the rotation. He shoots better off the dribble than when he has his feet set. He will go in hard right-handed and shoot left. Fairlawn had a tough time matching his size with their 5-9 and 5-10 guards.”
Mobley, a 6-3 post player, averaged a double-double with 19.3 ppg. and 10.3 rpg. during the season. Mobley scored 20 points and pulled down 15 rebounds for the Broncos against the Jets. The Broncos got additional points off the bench from Walt Cockran, who scored 11 points and got the winning free throws with 19 seconds left in the game.
“They’re not near the perimeter team that that we’ve seen through the sectional and district,” said Westrick. “They’ll pretty much penetrate strong and either shoot the pull-up jumper or drop it down, which is where Mobley gets most of his points, either on offensive rebounds or drop downs.”
The Flyers, who at times extend the matchup zone to nearly halfcourt to pick up long-range shooters, had to pack it in against Yellow Springs. Westrick was glad that it started to pick up steam in the later portions of the Yellow Springs game and knows his team will need to do the same thing on Friday.
“We made that adjustment in the middle of the third quarter and I was really pleased how my kids reacted,” said Westrick. “No doubt that will be the mentality we’ll go in with against Jefferson. We need to take care of the paint first and the perimeter second.”
The Broncos, coached by Art Winston, will also have scoring from sophomore guard Cleo James (six points against Fairlawn) and senior swingman Kevin Davis (two points).
If anything was taken out of the win over Yellow Springs on Tuesday, cutting down on turnovers was probably high on the list. Marion committed 27 in the game, 18 in the second half, as the Bulldogs cut a 17-point deficit down to three with a minute left in the game.
“We just have to (play) with a lot more control,” said Westrick. “The other night, (Yellow) Springs got us playing faster than we wanted to play. Hopefully, that’s a lesson learned and we’ll be a little more composed on Friday night.”
The Flyers look to see a Bronco defense that mixes in the man-to-man with the 1-2-2 and 1-3-1 traps.
“They won’t come out and extend themselves as hard as Yellow Springs did,” said Westrick. “They still want to keep pretty good ball pressure on us at all times.”