By Ryan Hines
There were empty seats in the Fieldhouse, but during a decisive second-half run you wouldn't have known it judging from the noise of the fans at the 24th Annual HALLiday Shoot-out on Monday night.
Celina erased a nine-point deficit late in the third quarter with a 26-4 run the rest of the game for a 51-38 win over Toledo Woodward in the semifinals of the HALLiday Shootout.
Lima Senior will meet Celina in the finals tonight at 7:45 following the consolation game featuring Springfield North and Woodward with tip-off set for 6 p.m.
Celina led 25-24 early in the third quarter when Woodward ripped off a 15-2 run over a 3:30 span to build a 34-25 advantage with 2:04 to play leading to a Bulldogs timeout. It was the second timeout in a span of 2:00 for Celina head coach Mike Kanney, who made sure he got his point across the second time.
Eric Klosterman hit a short jumper and Brandon Wurster finally found his shooting touch and ripped the cords for back-to-back long range three-pointers to pull Celina to within one point at the end of three quarters of play. Wurster missed his first five field goals of the game but hit another three-pointer to start the fourth quarter giving Celina the lead, 36-34 leading to a Woodward timeout. Klosterman weaved through the Woodward defense for a dazzling layup and Wurster hit a midrange jumper giving Celina a 40-34 lead capping a 15-0 run dating to the final 2:00 of the third quarter.
"We got the ball inside and worked it around the perimeter and I got some good screens from my teammates to give me some good looks," said Wurster, Celina's leading scorer on the year at 12.2 points per game. "The first half I didn't make anything but once I hit the first one in the second half, I got on a roll and felt good. Coach basically told us to get our heads out of our butts and just play as hard as we can. We were a little lazy there and but once we started hustling, things went our way."
"My tone in the second timeout was a little more concerned and
Brandon summed it up pretty good by saying that I just told them to get their heads out of their butts," recalled Kanney. "I just told them to go out and play basketball because it seemed like we were going through the motions and we gave up a lot of easy baskets on backdoor cuts and I think that the kids picked it up after that timeout.
"I told Brandon at halftime that he had to keep shooting and do the other things to help the team," added Kanney. "He went to playing tight defense in the second half and forgot about the tough first half, hit a couple and got on a roll. Shooters are like that."
The Bulldogs poured it on the rest of the way outscoring Woodward 11-4 in the final 5:00 of play for the 13-point bulge.
"They did a nice job in their zone and we took some bad shots but once we got the first couple to go in the second half, they just seemed to gain more confidence and it showed," said Kanney. "We seemed to get on a run when Brandon hit a couple of shots and that really picked us up. Our kids just did a great of job closing out this game."
Luthman and Aaron Braun kept Celina close in the first half until Wurster found his sweet stroke. Luthman led all scorers in the contest with a career-high 20 points while Wurster and Bran hit for 11 and nine points apiece.
"Scotty had a big offensive game for us tonight and got to the boards for some stickbacks," noted Kanney on Luthman. "Seth (Staugler) did a good job of penetrating and finding him for some close looks."
Robert Barner led Woodward with 14 points and a game-high seven rebounds while Eliujuan Williams added 10 points.
The first game saw one of the top players in the state of Ohio put on a show leading Lima Senior to a 51-38 victory.
Travis Walton, a future Michigan State Spartan, filled the box score with a game-high 21 points to go along with seven rebounds five assists and four steals. Teammates Chris McClellan and Keith Jackson scored 16 points while Dathan Lyles added 14 markers.
"Lima Senior is going to be a great challenge for us because they do what they do better than any team around," lauded Kanney. "It's a great opportunity for us. Travis Walton is a very good basketball player and he has four other guys around him that are very good basketball players too. Our goal was to get to the finals and now we have a great opportunity to play against a very good basketball team."
Vincent Corner scored 16 points to lead Springfield North.
Lima Senior 73, Springfield North 58
Celina 51, Toledo Woodward 38
Springfield North vs. Toledo Woodward, 6 p.m.
Celina vs. Lima Senior