OWENSVILLE – A matchup between the runners-up in the Southern Buckeye Conference American Division and co-champions of the National Division proved to be the best game of the day at Saturday’s SBAAC crossover games.
In a game that went back-and-forth for the first three quarters, it was Norwood that came up with the key plays late to defeat Blanchester 52-44 at Clermont Northeastern High School.
“It was a good test going into a tournament run,” BHS head coach Adam Weber said. “We played really well. I was happy. We didn’t trade buckets with them, which was good. We were both getting stops.
“It was going to come down to who made the first mistake. We had a couple things that we could probably have done a little bit better.”
It was the best shot the National Division had on a day those schools would rather forget, going 0-6 and losing by eight or more points in all six games.
It was an even matchup between the Wildcats (14-6) and the athletic Indians (15-7). When Norwood scored the final four points of the third quarter, it gave the Indians the largest lead for either team to that point, 40-36.
In the fourth quarter, Blanchester missed a few key opportunities that decided the game. Trailing by five with 1:26 remaining, the Wildcats got two straight opportunities at the free throw line with the front end of the 1-and-1. They missed both.
Norwood had the same opportunity on its next two possessions at the other end, and also missed the front end both times. However, after Jeb McGeorge missed the front end, Jaylin Cooper got a huge offensive rebound.
Andy Harkins put the game away for the Indians by making 6 of 6 from the line in the final 42.7 seconds.
Blanchester also went cold from the floor at the worst time. After shooting 14 of 32 from the floor in the first three quarters (43.8 percent), they shot just 3 of 13 in the fourth (23.1).
Alec Richardson led Blanchester with 11 points. Quenton Miller and JD Wiederhold had nine points each.
Harkins led the Indians with 13 points. Logan Zimmerman added 12 points.
“They placed second place in the big division for a reason,” Weber said. “I told the guys after the first quarter, ‘If you were doubting our ability to hang in this game, you’re crazy’.”
If there was any concern that the team might be a little emotionally hungover following Friday night’s league championship celebration, Weber said it went away early Saturday morning.
“When I saw my senior point guard (Richardson) walk in the gym at 8 in the morning to set up for hoopsters, I knew I wasn’t worried about this game,” Weber said. “That symbolic gesture there … I knew we were going to be ready to play.”
The Wildcats open tournament play 8:30 p.m. Friday at Loveland High School against Bethel-Tate. The Wildcats defeated the Tigers twice during the regular season.
“I know that it’s going to be a battle like the first two,” Weber said. “Come Friday, we’re going to have another good showing like we’ve had the last seven games.
“We’re really excited about that, regardless of whether it is the third, the fifth or the 10th time we’ve played them.”
Feb. 13, 2016
@Clermont Northeastern High School
Norwood 52, Blanchester 44
(52) NORWOOD (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Stephen Boston 4-2-0-10, Logan Zimmerman 4-4-0-12, Antonio Garnett 2-1-0-5, Lonzo Clark 1-0-0-2, Andy Harkins 3-1-6-13, Hunter Raines 1-0-0-2, Jeb McGeorge 2-1-1-6, Jaylin Cooper 1-0-0-2. TOTALS 18-9-7-52.
(44) BLANCHESTER (fg-3fg-ft-tp) Alec Richardson 4-3-0-11, Nick Hopkins 1-0-0-2, Quenton Miller 4-1-0-9, Dylan Miller 1-0-3-5, Harbor Lovin 1-0-0-2, Jordan Stroud 2-1-1-6, JD Wiederhold 4-0-1-9. TOTALS 17-5-5-44.
FIELD GOALS: N 18/44 (Boston 4/6, Zimmerman 4/7, Harkins 3/8); B 17/45 (Richardson 4/9, Q. Miller 4/9, Wiederhold 4/6)
3 POINT FIELD GOALS: N 9/24 (Zimmerman 4/5); B 5/18 (Richardson 3/8)
FREE THROWS: N 7/14 (Harkins 6/6); B 5/10 (D. Miller 3/4)
REBOUNDS: N 29 (Cooper 7, Clark 5, Garnett 4, Harkins 4); B 29 (Hopkins 7, Richardson 5, Stroud 5, Lovin 4)
ASSISTS: N 13 (Boston 3, Arriaza 3); B 10 (D. Miller 3, Richardson 2, Stroud 2)
STEALS: N 9 (McGeorge 4); B 7 (Stroud 3, Richardson 2)
BLOCKED SHOTS: N 0; B 1 (Wiederhold)
TURNOVERS: N 10; B 10