ELIDA — Coming into this basketball season, Shawnee has won the last three Mercy Health Tipoff Classics.
On Friday, the first night of this year’s Mercy Health Tipoff Classic, Shawnee got off to a solid start in pursuit of yet another title.
Shawnee jumped out early on Bath, and pulled away for a 64-45 victory at the Elida Fieldhouse.
With the win, Shawnee (1-0) will face Lima Central Catholic (1-0) tonight in the championship game with tip off set for around 7:30.
In Friday’s nightcap, LCC held off Elida 75-65.
The consolation game between Elida (0-1) and Bath (0-1) will tip off at 6 p.m.
Other than an early 3-0 deficit, Shawnee led the entire way Friday night.
Austin Miller led Shawnee with 19 points and nine rebounds. Point-guard Brady Wheeler poured in 18 points, dished out five assists and made two steals for the Indians.
Jonah Wauben, a 6-foot-5 senior post player, led Bath and all scorers with 20 points, including three 3-pointers. Wauben also pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds. Teammate Britton Hall added eight points, including two 3-pointers.
“What I was proud of, is that we played with tremendous defensive effort,” Shawnee head coach Mark Triplett said. “I think that when you play hard, consistently, then you’re going to be able to make up for a poor shooting night, a poor free-throw shooting night and being outrebounded 8-2 at the offensive end.
“Typically, when you go 3 for 14 (shooting) on threes, 9 for 16 at the free throw line, and you’re outrebounded at the offensive end 8-2 – that’s a bad night. But I thought we frustrated them with our pressure. That’s a thing that wins a lot of basketball games.”
Last season, Shawnee made it all the way to the Division II state semifinals, before bowing out to Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
However, this year’s Shawnee roster looks a little different, with four starters that graduated. In all, there are seven players gone from last year’s team.
Friday night against Bath, Shawnee came out in a sticky man-to-man defense, which helped cause 13 Bath turnovers on the night.
Bath did take an early 3-0 lead on a 3-pointer by Andrew Stahr (five points, four rebounds). However, that lead was short-lived for the Wildcats. It also was the only time Bath led in the game.
After the early Bath lead, Shawnee then went on an 8-0 run to pull out to an 8-3 advantage, midway through the first quarter. The Indians led 16-7 at the first stop.
Bath was just 3 of 12 shooting from the floor in the first eight minutes.
Shawnee shifted into high gear in the second quarter, as it outscored Bath 13-7. The Indians went into the halftime break with a comfortable 29-14 lead.
Miller led Shawnee and all scorers with nine first-half points, along with five rebounds.
Bath shot a dismal 24 percent from the field in the first half (5 of 21). Shawnee connected on 46-percent of its field goal attempts (11 of 24).
For the game, Shawnee shot 50 percent from the field. Bath ended the night, shooting 33 percent from the floor.
In the third quarter, Wauben kept the Wildcats in the game, scoring 11 points on 4 of 4 shooting from the floor.
The Indians led 49-30 at the end of the third quarter.
Triplett pointed to three guys on this year’s roster, who will be the main cogs for his squad.
“Those are two guys (Miller and Wheeler) that obviously played huge roles on our team last year. We’re really going to need Brady’s (Wheeler) leadership. Austin Miller – we found out how dynamic he can be. I think he is going to continue to grow as a basketball player. He just got back a couple weeks ago from a great soccer season. Then Toby Freiberger (six points, four rebounds, two steals). … He’s just a steady kid. You can really trust him to do his job, and compete at a high level,” Triplett said.
Lima Central Catholic 75,
LCC had four players score in double figures, en route a hard-fought win over Elida in Friday’s second game.
Evan Unruh and Seth Mikesell each scored 19 points for LCC. Keiron Bailey scored 13 points, while Billy Bourk added 11 for the T-Birds.
Tori Thomas led Elida with 18, while teammates Jackson Covault and Austin Miller added 16 and 11 points, respectively.
After getting down 38-27 by the halftime break, Elida battled back and cut the deficit to 5, four different times down the stretch.
“Our guys played extremely hard,” longtime LCC head coach Frank Kill said. “Guys like Keiron Bailey, who has worked his way off the bench to play a lot of minutes in this game. … He was the last guy on the bench last year; and he hit
probably the biggest shots we needed tonight. That was nice to see. Our three seniors really stepped up too.”