By Ryan Hines
WAPAKONETA -- Minster head coach Mike Lee thought the depth of his team might be an asset on Friday in the Division IV district final at Wapakoneta High School.
Fort Recovery (14-9) held the lead for a majority of the first 20 minutes of action, but Minster began to wear down the Indians and the Wildcats walked away with a 54-48 win to earn a berth to the regional tournament.
"We struggled offensively, but even at halftime, I felt that if we could just keep the pressure on them that eventually it would lead to some easy opportunities and it did in the third quarter," said Lee. "We felt going into the game that our depth would be a factor and I think it was in the second half."
Minster (19-4) now moves on to regional semifinals action at the University of Dayton Arena on Tuesday night at 8 p.m. against St. Bernard (11-12), which upset Ansonia (19-5), 48-45.
Lee's gameplan featured a steady dose of aggressive fullcourt and halfcourt defense in hopes of wearing down Fort Recovery. Fatigue appeared to set in for Fort Recovery in the middle of the third quarter after holding a 23-18 advantage at halftime.
Minster's Dane Sommer opened the third quarter with an aggressive offensive mentality as the senior attacked the basket each time down the floor for the Wildcats.
Sommer's penetration resulted in eight quick points to start the third quarter pulling Minster to within one point on two separate occasions forcing a Fort Recovery timeout at the 3:40 mark.
Minster was the first to score out of the timeout as forward Andy Beckman, who was held scoreless in the first half, canned a three-pointer from the wing giving the Wildcats the lead, 29-27, for the first time since early in the second quarter.
"In the first half I really didn't get the ball too much with the offense that we were running but I got a good look for the three in the third quarter and I canned it," said Beckman. "We were struggling offensively to get many good looks so when I got one I wanted to make sure and hit it. I think that it lifted our team a little bit because it gave us the lead again."
"Minster is obviously a good (Continued from page 7)
team and we knew that were going to make a run but it hurt us when Dusty (Tobe) got his third foul early in the third quarter because it's tough for us to have an experienced kid like that on our bench in that situation," said Patch.
Fort Recovery's Sean Kahlig answered with a bucket down low to tie the score, but Minster scored the final six points of the third quarter to take a 35-39 advantage to the final eight minutes. Jeff Preston hit a bunny, Zac Boeke drilled a three-pointer and Alex Stricker hit a free throw to account for the Wildcats' scoring to end the third quarter.
"I knew that we had a spurt in us, I just didn't know when it was going to happen, but I guess that it happened midway through the third quarter," said Boeke. "We practiced on full denial all week long in practice and I think that it really paid off for us tonight. I could tell that they were getting a little tired in the second half."
Minster built its lead to as many as 10 points early in the fourth quarter but Fort Recovery kept chipping away at the deficit and found itself down just two points at 45-43 following a pair of free throws from Kahlig with 1:46 left in the game.
Fort Recovery pulled to within two points again on one other occasion down the stretch, but Boeke and Beckman did the job at the free-throw line to ice the game for the Wildcats. Boeke hit 7-of-8 free throws in the fourth quarter and finished with a game-high 16 points while Beckman sank 5-of-6 in the final stanza and had 10 points.
"At the beginning of the year I was shooting like 32 percent from the line, so I started going to practice free throws on Sundays for a couple of hours and I guess that it paid off because I had all the confidence in the world at the end of the game," said Boeke.
"When you have to face a team like Minster that pressures you the whole game like they do, that's going to wear on you a little bit," said Patch. "When we got to the tournament, we trimmed our bench down and went with a six-man rotation that we thought were going to win us ball games. I think that might have gotten to us little bit. It hasn't been a factor to this point but when when you get pressed the whole game, it might have effected us down the stretch."
Minster did most of its damage at the free-throw line on the evening after shooting just 13-of-41 from the field for just 32 percent. The Wildcats hit 24-of-31 from the charity stripe (77 percent) in the game while Fort Recovery shot well in their opportunities, hitting 11-of-12.
"We're not a great shooting team from the line, but I thought that we did a pretty good job in the fourth quarter tonight," said Lee. "I'll take 24-of-31 any day."
Sommer was the third Wildcat in double figures with 15 points, hitting 9-of-13 from the free-throw line.
"In the first half we held the ball too much and in the second half we attacked the basket more and pushed the ball up the floor more," said Sommer. "Zac is probably our best shooter on the team and I had no doubt that he was going to make them."
Kahlig led Fort Recovery with 14 points, which included an 8-of-8 showing at the free-throw line while Greg Faller contributed 10 points. Dusty Tobe and Clint Tobe also added eight points apiece for the Indians.