COLDWATER – Upper Scioto Valley head coach Jeff Kloepfer could only breath a sigh of relief after watching his Rams escape with a 59-56 win against Spencerville in the opening round of the Division IV sectional Tuesday night.
“That was a pretty intense game,” Kloepfer said. “I thought both teams really played hard. I thought both teams left everything out there. It wasn’t the cleanest game but it happens in tournament. You give everything you’ve got and you know if you don’t win you have a lot of rest ahead of you.”
USV (17-6) will play Parkway (15-7) at 6:15 p.m. Friday.
“I was very pleased with our effort,” Kloepfer said. “At times we could have folded when they made a couple of runs at us but every time we seemed to respond to it and that is nice to see as a coach.”
Despite the records it was a see-saw battle until the final buzzer with neither team ever having a lead larger than six points.
Going into the final eight minutes, USV led 46-42 and appeared to ready to pull away after a strong third quarter. However, the determined Bearcats were not backing down and came up with big shot after big shot and took a 52-49 lead with 3:56 minutes remaining in the game.
But Quinn Sanders, who kept the Rams in the game, scored four straight points to put the Rams up top 53-52 with 1:52 in the game and when Jackson Rohrs added another bucket it appeared USV would wrap up the win.
Instead the battling Bearcats responded to get within two, 57-55 with 15.3 seconds left and had the ball ready to send this into overtime or secure the win. When Josh Heinline got fouled with six seconds left it appeared the game was heading to an extra frame. However, Heinline made only one of the two shots and USV’s Connor Sanders snared the carom and was promptly fouled.
Connor Sanders sank two from the charity stripe to open up the 59-56 advantage with 1.3 seconds left.
Hoping for some postseason magic, Spencerville inbounded the ball and got it to Dalton Prichard at halfcourt who heaved one towards the basket that bounced off the rim as the final buzzer sounded.
Spencerville head coach Kevin Sensabaugh said he knew they could play with the Rams but it was the third quarter that hurt the Bearcats’ effort.
“It was kind of how I expected it to go,” Sensabaugh said. “It was a good game and 32 (Quinn Sanders) was going to be tough to handle because he hit some tough shots but the third quarter defensively we just broke down and we broke down the entire quarter.”
Sensabaugh pointed out that in the first two quarters, the Bearcats surrendered 21 points but in the third stanza gave up 25 points.
“That was really the difference in the game and we didn’t defend in the third quarter. The Rohrs kid kind of got loose and he had nine points in the third quarter,” Sensabaugh added. “It killed us.”
Coming into the second half, the Bearcats had gained some m momentum and were leading 24-21.
Quinn Sanders was the main driving force for the Rams at both ends of the court. The senior standout finished with 32 points, 10 rebounds and five blocked shots and knowing he can not do it on his own dished out several big assists down the stretch.
Rohrs notched 17 points for the Rams.
Quinn worked really hard,” Kloepfer said. “He kind of lapsed there right before halftime, giving up that basket right before the buzzer and I said `Quinn, I sorry you have to. There is nobody else that can do what you can do for us’ and I thought he responded really well and in the second half he hit some shots from the outside and I thought that loosened him up a little for him to go back inside.”
Spencerville’s offensive attack was more balanced and nearly as effective. A trio of Bearcats hit double digits with Heinline leading the way with 16 points. Eli Harter chipped in 12 points and Prichard finished with 10 points.
Perry 65, Waynesfield-Goshen 25
With the win Perry will play Minster (14-8) at 8 p.m. Friday.
Defense helped Perry produce the win.
Perry scored 11 unanswered points to open the game to gain the early advantage. By halftime,Perry led 45-15 at halftime.
“I think was our defense,” Perry head coach Matt Tabler said. “I told our kids you are going to be a little jittery because we only had two guys with tournament experience so I told them to rely on the defense and I felt we bumbled the ball a little on the offensive end but defensively we were sound in the half court and that kind of got us to that lead.”
Four different Commodores scored in double digits. Will Knight and Chazz Jackson each scored 13 points and Bubby Knight chipped in 12 followed by Terry Riley with 11.
Minster beat Perry earlier in the season and Tabler sees another major challenge.
“We played Minster in the regular and it was kind of what Waynesfield did to come at us so we chose to go to Minster They have some bulletin board stuff like we have and so we have to be prepared,” Tabler said. “They beat us by 12 (72-60) in the regular season and we were missing two guys but we are not going to making an excuses. We are going to show up with who we have and we have a full compliment of players but we know we have to play better defense than we have and we have to finish stronger around the rim.”
Reach Jose Nogueras at 567-242-0468.