O’Neal rallies Shawnee over Van Wert


First Posted: 1/9/2015

SHAWNEE TOWNSHIP — Turnover, fastbreak layup. Turnover, fastbreak layup.

That’s how Shawnee got on a third-quarter roll.

Then, Shawnee’s Jaden O’Neal took it home from there.

O’Neal scored 26 points, 22 in the second half, to power the Indians to a come-from-behind 59-47 boys basketball victory over Van Wert Friday at Lappin Gymnasium.

Van Wert led 26-19 at the half and 30-19 with 6:59 left in the third quarter.

O’Neal and company then gobbled up three quick turnovers and converted them into fastbreak points at the other end. After being down 11, Shawnee outscored Van Wert 22-8 to take a 41-38 lead after three quarters.

“You could feel the energy of the crowd and that just propelled us,” O’Neal said.

O’Neal led the Indians’ power surge with 15 third-quarter points. Eight of those points came on driving layups. He finished the quarter with a deep 3-pointer.

“We sat down and we guarded for 84 feet,” Shawnee coach Mark Triplett said. “Everything they did, offensively, we put pressure on them. … We did it with defense and getting out in transition.”

O’Neal said his team kicked up its pressure in the third quarter.

“It was a combination of defensive pressure and intensity and we were able to get the steals on them and convert them at the other end,” O’Neal said.

Shawnee, which broke its five-game losing streak, is 3-6, 1-1 in the Western Buckeye League. Van Wert, which lost its fifth in a row, is 2-6, 0-2 in the WBL.

“The layup, turnovers is what got (Jaden) O’Neal going,” Van Wert coach Mark Bagley said. “He went from four points to 20 points just like that, because of our three turnovers. Once an athletic team like that gets hot, they have the confidence going. And we stopped attacking the basket.”

Connor Holliday had 11 points for Van Wert. Inside-power player Drew Myers and freshman guard Jacoby Kelly both scored 10.

Shawnee won the boards, 37-32. Angelo Fox had 12 rebounds, to go with his seven points. O’Neal chipped in with seven rebounds. Ja’Quan Tucker scored nine points for the Indians.

“He (O’Neal) does a lot of very nice things for us. He had a slow start tonight, but he just needed to go play,” Triplett said. “And he did. He got to the rim.”

Shawnee pulled out to a 13-point lead, 52-39, in the final quarter.

“We were down by 11 and had a five-game losing streak. It was an easy time to fold,” Triplett said. “But we did anything but that. It was fun to watch.”

Shawnee flashed its form it had at the Tip-Off Classic when it went 1-1. Since then, numerous players have been down with the flu.

“We’re not going to make excuses,” Triplett said. “We were a team that lost five games in a row. That’s what we are and that’s what we’re going to build on from here.”

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