The Chargers took every punch that Willard had, and landed one of their own as they trailed by just one (32-31) at halftime. However, the Crimson Flashes team that entered the game having won 11 in a row looked the part and then some in the second half, outscoring Edison 40-15 over the final two quarters in a 72-47 win at Edison High School.
The Crimson Flashes improved to 17-3 overall and 9-2 in the Bay, and in bigger news, have suddenly found themselves in a tie for first place. Vermilion (17-4, 10-2) lost on Friday to Huron, and is finished playing league games.
Willard can make it a co-championship with a win on Friday in Huron against the same Tigers (10-9, 7-4).
“You just have to credit Edison, they played well the first half,” Willard coach Joe Bedingfield said of Friday’s first half. “Kyle does a good job coaching them up and they were ready for us in the first half.
“I don’t think that we shot well or played particularly well in the first two quarters,” he added. “I am not sure why that was, but we came out in the third quarter and got back to the fundamentals. We were able to use our size and I think that they may have struggled with our length a little bit.”
After falling behind by 11 points with five minutes left in the first half, the sophomore-laden Chargers went on a 16-6 run to led by senior Larry Kessler (12 points), who was aided by sophomores Dylan O’Dell (11 points), Patrick Amburgy (five points) and junior Seth Thompson (four points).
“I think that, that was probably the best half of basketball that we have played all season long,” Edison coach Kyle Hammond said. “But Willard is really, really good. We had trouble competing with their size. They have a lot of tall, long players and Davon Triplett has that length, but he is also just so big and strong — and they also have Terry Baldridge Jr. who has length, too.
“We didn’t have the experience to match them in the second half,” he added. “It has been a tough year, but I am incredibly thankful for the senior leaders we have on the team. Even though we haven’t gotten the results we wanted to, they come and play hard and do a great job of mentoring these underclassmen, so they can be successful in the future.”
It wasn’t too long ago when Willard was in the same place as Edison. Bedingfield was dealing with some of the same issues last year in his first season as the Flashes coach that the Chargers and Hammond are going through now. Just a year later, the Flashes could win a conference title.
“We have a couple of players on the team this year that wasn’t playing for us last year and I think that winning has helped with getting our players to buy in,” Bedingfield said. “We still need to get better at some things and play with better fundamentals at all times.
“We also need to get stronger and better physically, in the tournament a lot of times they let the players play a little more and we need to be ready for that type of physical play,” he added.
Willard, which hosts Tiffin Columbian on Tuesday, got 17 points from Baldridge, while Triplett scored 16 and Brevon Polachek added 15.
WILLARD (17-3, 9-2)
Brevon Polachek 7-0–15; Terry Baldridge Jr. 5-7–17; Austin Adelman 1-1–3; Myles Pinkston 4-0–8; Joey Holida 2-1–5; Davon Triplett 7-2–16; Copper Parrott 3-0–8. TOTAL 29-11—72.
EDISON (2-18, 2-9)
Dylan O’Dell 5-1–11; Caleb Bissell 1-0–3; Seth Thomason 2-0–4; Larry Kessler 5-0–12; Lincoln Meredith 2-0–5; Patrick Amburgy 2-0–5; Andrew Neate 2-1–5; Patrick McManus 1-0–2. TOTAL 20-2—47.
Willard 19 13 19 21 — 72
Edison 13 18 10 6 — 47
3-point FGs: (W) Parrot 2, Polachek; (E) Kessler 2, Bissell, Meredith, Amburgy.