The Roughriders got comfortable after the intermission, outscoring Huron by a 15-2 margin in the third quarter in their 42-35 victory in the Division III sectional championship game Friday at Monroeville.
“I thought that in the third quarter, we finally played with no hesitancy, to be honest,” Western coach Chris Sheldon said. “We were aggressive. We had a mindset that we were going to attack and that led to our defense.
“When you let a team score two points in a quarter, you’re going to win more often than not.”
The win sends the Firelands Conference champions to the district semifinal game at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Norwalk High School to face Upper Sandusky (18-5).
“The bottom line is you’ve got to make baskets, especially in the tournaments,” Huron coach Bobby James said. “You can’t come here and shoot the way we did. They hit shots and we didn’t so congratulations to them going on.
“Our kids didn't make shots when we needed to make them and their kids did.”
A 44-42 loss on Jan. 26 to the Tigers paid dividends for the ‘Riders in the sectional final.
“Familiarity gave us some things to look at that we did well and gave us an opportunity to go back and clean some things up,” Sheldon said. “I think the biggest thing was we knew that the first time around, they were more physical than us. We knew that maybe we couldn’t be the more physical team tonight, but we were going to be physically read. Ready to take a hit and ready to give it and I thought that we were good at that all night long at both ends.”
The ‘Riders (17-4) took an 18-16 lead in at the half on a Cory Hipp bucket with a second left in the first half. Luke Rowlinson took it from there, scoring eight of his team-high 13 points in the third quarter as they stretched the lead to 33-18.
During the quarter, Western converted six of nine shots from the field, including a pair of treys, and owned a 10-5 edge on the boards.
Huron (11-11) finally found some offense over the final eight minutes, but trailed by 10 until Drew Wennes hit a three-pointer at the final buzzer to trim the deficit to seven points.
“We missed a lot of looks and when they got their looks, they knocked them down,” James said. “I thought they did a nice job converting on the offense end and we didn’t executed offensively. When we did, we missed them.”
Wennes was the only Tiger in double-digits with a team-high 13 points, but only had two heading into the fourth quarter.
“We challenged the guys who were going to guard him, especially John Skrada,” Sheldon said. “He had to take it upon himself to shut the kid down and it all started with not letting him catch it, making him uncomfortable on the catch and making him work extremely hard before he touches the ball.
“John took that as a personal challenge and did an outstanding job with it and then his cohorts just did an outstanding job of surrounding him once he caught it. Every time Wennes put it on the deck, he had a second body coming his way. Anytime time he tried to post up, he had a second body coming his way and that’s five guys locked in and understanding what it was going to take to shut down a really good player and then go out and do it.”
Jude Muenz added 10 to Rowlinson’s 13 for the Roughriders, with Aiden Markely grabbing six rebounds and Muenz adding five.
“In the first half, we had a couple of really bad careless turnovers,” Sheldon said. “We fumbled a couple of balls on the catch not begin shot-ready. Part of that was probably nerves in the first tournament game, especially for so many young guys, but I thought we just settled down and played.”
Matthew Hurst 1-0—2; Casey Scroggins 2-0—5; Drew Wennes 5-0—13; Joey Brown 2-0—5; Nic Ritzler 1-0—2; Jacob Lamb 1-2—4; Jimmy Harkelroad 1-0—2; Cole Parker 1-0—2. TOTALS 15-2—35.
W. RESERVE (17-4)
Jude Muenz 2-4—10; Aiden Markley 1-1—4; Luke Rowlinson 5-1—13; Hayden Huntington 1-0—2; Cory Hipp 2-2—6; Adam Lewis 1-0—2; Matt Jarrett 2-0—5. TOTALS 14-8—42.
Huron 11 5 2 17 — 35
W. Reserve 9 9 15 9 — 42
3-point FGs: (H) Wennes 3, Scroggins, Brown; (WR) Jude Muenz 2, Luke Rowlinson 2, Jarrett, Markley