When Shawnee head coach Mark Triplett is asked about the Indians’ thrilling Division II district final, 58-54, overtime win against Western Buckeye League rival Van Wert this past weekend, he shakes his head and smiles.
“That game said to me what I already knew about our team. I think it said a lot about their resiliency and their character,” Triplett said. “They were down and out about three or four times in that game. We were playing catch up most of the night … and I thought there was several times throughout the course of the game our kids could have said it has been a fun year and a great year and tonight is not our night but they just continued to work and do everything we could to get over the hump offensively.”
Despite shooting 37 percent, the Indians made up for it with a solid rebounding effort that allowed, especially on the offensive boards, to give them second chance baskets.
Triplett added that the team learned a lot about itself when the ball was not bouncing the Indians’ way.
“I think it was just another character test for them, and they realized that when things are not going your way you can still find ways to get it done,” Triplett said. “I was proud of how they did that.”
As satisfying as the victory to get to the regionals, the first time since 2000, Triplett said it was back to business Monday as the team prepares for Cleveland Central Catholic (16-9) at Bowling Green State University at 8 p.m. Thursday.
“We enjoyed it as coaches until we got on the bus and then we pretty much started talking about Cleveland Central Catholic,” Triplett said. “For the kids we let them enjoy it for the rest of that weekend, basically for Sunday and then went back to find a way to get better on Monday.”
No changes to Shawnee’s routine this week Triplett said as the team focuses on what it needs to do to get better as a basketball team.
“We have kind of been like that all year,” Triplett added. “Let’s worry about us and things will work themselves out.”
But that does not mean Triplett and his coaching staff are watching film on Central Catholic and doing their due diligence to find areas to exploit which are not many for the Ironmen.
Don’t let the nine losses fool you. The Ironmen played one of the toughest schedules in northeast Ohio that included battles against St. Ignatius, Benedictine, St. Vincent-St. Mary and Villa Angela-St. Joseph.
Central Catholic features a wealth of weapons. Taryl Davis, a 6-foot-6 senior forward, averages 12.3 points a game and 7 rebounds a contest. Davis was a second-team All-Northeast District. He is teamed with Trevon Wells inside, a 6-5, 220-pound strong forward.
Junior Arthur Fayne spearheads the backcourt. The Ironman guard, an honorable mention All-Northeast District selection, is averaging 13 points a game.
Point guard Tevin Jackson, a junior transfer from St. Ignatius last year, was a third-team, All Northeast District choice, and averaged 8.3 points a game. Also recognized on the honorable mention squad was DeShaun Nettles, a 6-4 shooting guard.
“Size-wise they are pretty similar to where we are at,” Triplett said. “They have some big, athletic, physical kids. They rebound the ball relentlessly at the rim and get out and go in transition very, very well and they have a couple of kids that can shoot the ball a little bit. They are battle tested. Their schedule is as tough as any I have seen in Division II.”
Triplett said the team is going to have to put in a near flawless game if it is going to win.
“We are going to continue to find ways to be us but if we don’t find a way to rebound they are going to make you pay in a hurry,” Triplett said. “If we don’t keep the basketball in front of us in transition they are going to make us pay in a hurry.”
Offensively, Triplett said the team has to execute and avoid getting into the one-on-one game. He also expects them to put some heavy defensive pressure on the Indian guards.
This is uncharted territory for his players making it to this point of the season but Triplett said the team is up for the challenge.
“We tried to preach to them ‘are you hungry or are you satisfied,’” Triplett said. “’Do you want to do something while you are here’ and that has been our message all year.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.