LIMA — Shawnee boys’ basketball coach Mark Triplett didn’t think his team’s performance Friday night was its best.
However, Triplett loved what he saw in the third quarter.
What his team did in the third quarter of Friday’s Division II sectional final game against Napoleon was good enough to finally put some distance between his squad and Napoleon, as Shawnee pulled away in the second half for a convincing 61-38 victory over the Wildcats at Lima Senior.
Shawnee (21-2) will face Elida (14-10) in a district semifinal at Ohio Northern University on Wednesday, March 6 with tip-off set for 6:15 p.m.
In Friday’s second semifinal at Lima Senior, Elida pulled away from Bryan (13-11) in the second half for a 62-44 victory.
After Shawnee slipped out with a 28-22 lead by the halftime break, the Indians then came out in the third stanza and pushed the tempo at both ends of the floor.
Shawnee was hitting shots from both the perimeter and inside the paint, and doing it at a very fast pace.
By the time Napoleon had a chance to recover, Shawnee had pushed out to a 19-point lead by the end of the third quarter, 47-28.
For the game, Shawnee’s largest lead was 28.
“We finally got some stops,” Triplett said. “We were able to get out into transition and were able to push the pace a little bit there. About midway through the third quarter to the end of the third quarter, I thought we played four really good minutes of basketball. … I thought that was the only four minutes of great basketball we played. But once we got some energy going, we were able to get out into transition, hit some shots and attack the rim a little bit more. So, it certainly wasn’t our best game, but we did enough to move on; and that’s what it takes this time of the year.”
Johnny Caprella and George Mangas each scored 15 points for Shawnee. Mangas, a 6-foot-3 sophomore, also pulled down nine rebounds. Justin Behnke scored 10 points, including two 3-pointers. John Barker came off the bench for Shawnee and had nine points and four boards. Tyson Elwer, a 6-5 post player for Shawnee, pulled down a game-high 10 rebounds and scored six points.
“In the first half, we just kept putting up shots and we really didn’t play inside,” Mangas said. “We just had to make sure we got more in the center of the paint and then we could exploit their defense by going inside.”
Landon Willeman led Napoleon (8-16) with 12 points on four 3-pointers, all coming in the first half.
“We started to contest some shots (from Willeman),” Triplett said. “We knew he could shoot the ball. In the second half, we switched up a little, defensively.”
Shawnee pulled out to a 16-12 lead by the end of the first quarter. Caprella and Mangas each scored five first-quarter points for the Indians.
Willeman kept the Wildcats close as he made three 3-pointers.
Shawnee fought off several Napoleon runs in the second stanza and came away with a 28-22 lead by the halftime break.
Caprella accounted for seven second-quarter points, as the 6-foot-2 senior muscled inside for a couple scores and also dialed long distance for another bucket. Caprella finished with 12 first-half points.
Napoleon got it done from the outside in the first half. Out of the eight field goals made, six of those were 3-pointers.
Napoleon battled back in the early part of the third quarter.
Early on, Napoleon cut the deficit to 4, 32-28, on a put back by Jarrett Gerdeman (five points).
That’s when Shawnee picked it up.
Behnke came right back with a long 3-pointer from the top of the key, giving the Indians a 35-28 lead. Then on the very next possession, Behnke got it done at the defensive end, making a steal and then going coast-to-coast for the bucket, to push the Shawnee advantage to 9, 37-28.
Shawnee went into overdrive at that point.
The Indians extended their lead to 19 points by the end of the third quarter.
Napoleon struggled at the offensive end in the third quarter, making just 3 of 15 shots from the floor. Shawnee was 6 of 10 shooting from the field. Barker and Behnke each nailed a 3-pointer for the Indians.
“We got some defensive stops, Triplett said. I thought Tyson (Elwer) dominated the paint for most of the game. We got into transition and shared the ball well enough, that we were able to pull away in the third quarter.”
For the game, Shawnee shot 46 percent from the field. Napoleon connected on just 27 percent of its field goal attempts.
Both teams took care of the basketball.
Napoleon turned the ball over just five times, while Shawnee turned the ball over six times.
Shawnee won the boards, 37-31.
“We have nine guys who have scored in double figures for us,” Triplett said. “So, our depth has been a factor for us all season long. We feel like if we can get to the other team’s bench in the second half in a competitive game, then we feel like we
can pull away from teams. Fortunately, we were able to do that tonight.”
After finishing second to Ottawa-Glandorf in the Western Buckeye League this season, Shawnee is on a mission.
Added Mangas, “It’s good to be (sectional) champions now. Nobody can take this away from us.”
Elida 62, Bryan 44
Early on, Bryan was able to slow Elida down and make it challenging for the Bulldogs to take the ball inside the paint.
Elida finally adjusted.
The Bulldogs slipped into the halftime break with a 25-21 lead.
In the third quarter, Dante Wheeler stepped up and ignited the Bulldogs. The 6-foot-6 Wheeler scored 14 third-quarter points and helped Elida pull out to a 41-34 lead by the third stop.
Wheeler led Elida and all scorers with 27 points, including two 3-pointers. Teammate Matt Fish also did some damage at the offensive end, scoring 15 points. Fish was 5 of 6 shooting from the free throw line.
Caleb Zuver led Bryan with 12 points. Teammate Titus Rohrer had 10 points.
Friday’s sectional final against Bryan was a little different style of play than what Elida saw in Wednesday’s 76-55 sectional semifinal win over Toledo Scott.
“That game was hard,” longtime Elida coach Denny Thompson said, in reference to the win over Bryan. “It was hard to play in, hard to coach and hard to officiate. I felt they (Bryan) had the edge with their intensity and aggressiveness in most of that first quarter.
“We had a little discussion at the (first) quarter break. The kids reacted well. I thought when they came back out to start the second quarter, Bryan wasn’t the aggressor anymore. In doing so, that’s what makes the game kind of ugly. You have to learn to adjust to the type of game it is. I thought in the last quarter and a half, we kind of settled down. We just played then, after that.”
Both teams struggled in the first quarter. Bryan slipped out with a 13-6 lead by the first stop.
Elida battled back in the second stanza and pulled out to a 25-21 advantage by the halftime break.
Fish led the way for the Bulldogs, scoring nine first-half points.
Elida came out strong to open the second half.
Wheeler converted an old-fashion 3-point play to push the lead to 28-21. Then, moments later, Wheeler scored on a nice inside move to push the Elida lead to 9, 30-21.
A 3-pointer by Wheeler at the 4:40 mark of the third quarter, gave Elida a 10-point lead, 35-25. Elida led 41-34 by the third stop.
“That’s what they gave me; and I took what was open,” Wheeler said.
Elida will face Shawnee for the third time this season, when it plays Shawnee in next Wednesday’s district semifinal at ONU. Shawnee defeated Elida in the previous two meetings this season.
“Our kids wanted it (rematch with Shawnee),” Thompson said. “It’s going to be a heck of a game.”
Reach The Lima News sports department at 567-242-0451.