Boys Basketball Beats Wabash To Move To Sectional Finals

Posted on March 3, 2018 in Boy's Basketball, Winter Sports

By CHUCK LANDIS – clandis@chronicle-tribune.com
NORTH MANCHESTER — While all five starters scored in double figures, defense more than offense helped deliver the Oak Hill boys’ basketball team a sectional semifinals victory Friday evening.

The Golden Eagles survived a challenge from a young and feisty Wabash team and pulled off a 70-59 victory in Class 2A Sectional 37 at Manchester High School. Caleb Middlesworth collected a double-double with 20 points and 13 rebounds, and the Eagles shot 64 percent in the second half after struggling early.

Class 2A eighth-ranked Oak Hill (21-5) takes on Lewis Cass (11-13) at 7 p.m. today for the sectional championship. Cass advanced with a 67-51 victory over North Miami.

Wabash finished 12-11 for its first winning season since 1993-94. The Apaches fell behind 18 points in the second half but attempted to rally behind standout sophomore guard Trenton Daughtry, who finished with 22 points.

“The thing I’m going to take from the game that I liked was we struggled offensively with shots particularly right around the basket and we were able to maintain our position in the game and were able to expand because we were locked in on the defensive side of the floor,” Oak Hill coach Kevin Renbarger said.

“That’s what I’m pleased with and the big takeaway was our defense carried us while our offense was getting going,” Renbarger added.

Defense allowed the Eagles to build a 12-5 lead after one quarter and extend it to 30-16 at halftime even though they shot 34 percent from the floor. Wabash was even worse, connecting on 27 percent of its shots and didn’t score over the final three minutes of the opening quarter.

Middlesworth took maximum advantage of this 6-foot-8 frame on the smaller Apaches and had his double-double by halftime, amassing 10 points and 11 rebounds. Four rebounds came on the offensive end and helped him overcome a poor shooting half where he was 4-of-11. All were around the basket except two 3-point attempts.

Wabash double-teamed Middlesworth, but he was able to pass out to open teammates who hit just enough shots to foil the strategy. Konner Cabe and David Arens each scored seven points in the opening half with a 3-point basket.

“Even though he was doubled, he was getting the shots he wanted and we didn’t have to adjust,” Renbarger said.

“And we felt good because we were getting the shots we were wanting…” he added. “Again, it was [the defensive] end of the floor, where we kept them from doing what they wanted to do and we not only maintained a lead but expanded it.”

Oak Hill’s superior offensive rebounding led to an 11-0 advantage in second-chance points, marring the Apaches’ best laid plans according to coach Paul Wright.

“I thought we executed the game plan well, but the first half they had 11 offensive rebounds, and you can’t allow that to a good team,” Wright said. “We came back out and in the second half they only had one, but that was the difference in the game.

“Our initial defense was good because they were not making their shots,” he added. “Defensively, we’re fine and I just thought their constant rebounding of missed shots and putting it back in wore on us and our confidence.”

Cade opened the second half with a 3-pointer and the Eagles were quickly able to open a 37-19 lead just three minutes into the third quarter. The Eagles made 10-of-16 shots in the third and Spencer Ballinger came to life with seven points after a scoreless first half.

Tyce Frank was the catalyst with his passing and made four of his five assists in the third quarter, which ended with Oak Hill possessing a 52-36 advantage. Frank went to the bench after collecting his fourth foul early in the fourth quarter and the Eagles offense and ballhandling began to stagnate.

After committing only three turnovers through three quarters, the Eagles made five over the final eight minutes and gave the Apaches a small opening. Logan Vander Velden’s basket pulled the Apaches to within 58-47 with less than three minutes to play. Wabash had chance to pull closer but could not capitalize as the Apaches had two empty possessions.

“We got a couple stops and had some great shots,” Wright said. “We just couldn’t put them in and that’s basketball.”

Cade finished with 12 points, followed by Frank and Arens with 11 points each and Ballinger with 10.

Daughtry scored 20 points after intermission and 11 in the fourth quarter. Vander Velden followed with 14 points and seven rebounds, and Dereck Vogel had 12 points. The Apaches graduate only two players and figure to be the top contender for the 2019 sectional championship.

“The Daughtry kid is one of the top two or three kids in regards to toughness trying to keep out of the lane, and they got shooters on the perimeter who can spread you out,” Renbarger said of Wabash. “That team does well at what we’re weak at, and for us to play the defense that we did I’m really proud.”

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