ELIDA — Shawnee appears to have picked up where it left off last year.
The Indians, who were undefeated last year at 25-0 before the season ended prematurely, came out with the same intensity in this year’s opener with a convincing 95-38 victory in the second game of the Mercy Health Tip Off tournament at the Elida Fieldhouse on Friday night.
The Indians will face Lima Central Catholic in the championship game tonight. Elida will take on Bath in the consolation match.
Shawnee head coach Mark Triplett said the goal was to jump out on Elida early and set the tone offensively and defensively.
“We were going to start straight in our man defense and the guys came to me this morning came to me and said we want to start man to man press and I thought that sped them up which we wanted to speed the tempo up,” Triplett said. “I was proud of our defensive energy in that first quarter.”
Elida head coach Denny Thompson, who started five players with little or now playoff experience, said this is the type of game his team can learn from.
“Everybody has to start somewhere and we started tonight,” Thompson said. “We knew our learning curve was pretty steep and we just have to take what happened tonight and learn from it . Twelve of those guys on the court learned the realization of the speed, strength and quickness of the varsity game and I think they got their eyes opened quite a bit.”
Shawnee dominated from the opening tip against the inexperienced Bulldogs as the Indians scored the first 21 points of the game to take a commanding lead. In that run Elida had six turnovers and Shawnee made its first nine out of 10 baskets.
Elida, being blanketed by Shawnee’s defense at every turn, did not score its first bucket until the 3:23 mark of the first quarter.
In the first stanza, George Mangas had scored eight more points, 15, than the entire Elida team.
By the end of the first quarter, Shawnee, playing like they had never left the hardwood, owned a 33-7 lead.
“When we are getting out in transition after defensive shots and getting out in transition we are typically shooting layups,” Triplett said. “When we are shooting layups in transition we are shooting pretty good offensively.”
By halftime, Shawnee had a 51-15 lead.
“It was total domination on their part,” Thompson said. “But if we can’t learn what we have to better and in practice and practicing harder and they things we need to do to get better we are not going to get better. I think we are going to get better.”
Shawnee’s Tyson Elwer recorded a double-double as the senior led the team with 24 points and grabbing 11 rebounds. The senior post player added six steals. Mangas, who sat most of the second half, ended up with 21 points and Jarin Bertke added 13 points. Austin Miller, coming off the bench, scored 14 points.
For Elida, Aidan Bartels, who connected on five 3-pointers, finished with a team high 17 points.
Even though it was a dominating performance, Triplett plenty of work ahead for the Indians.
“I said we had more turnovers in tonight’s game than we had last season,” Triplett said. “We gave up too many offensive rebounds and we let a kid hit five 3-pointers on us. That is what talked about in the locker room. We are going to challenge these guys because the ceiling is really high for them and if we are satisfied where we are at right now, we are not going to be a very good basketball team this year. There is a lot of things any team is going to have to fix early in the year and we are not any exception to that.”