GRANVILLE – There’s not much a team can do when injuries leave it undermanned against a much deeper opponent, which is something the Henry-Senachwine boys basketball team found to be true Friday in the Tri-County Conference Tournament third-place game.
The No. 4-seeded Mallards, still down a starter and with two key reserves hobbled, gave No. 3 Seneca a workout at R.M. Germano Gymnasium, but cold shooting for the first three quarters dropped them into a hole by the start of the final period and they lost to the Irish, 56-39.
Seneca (15-8) held Henry’s trio of top scorers — Jake Miller, Ethan Condit and Griffin Self — to just 24 total points and a combined 6-of-24 shooting from the field.
Coincidently, that’s exactly what the Mallards shot as a team through three periods, leaving them down 38-21 heading to the fourth.
Ben Krause tossed in 14 points, T.J. Van Ness had 11 (all in the second half) and Chase Hauch added 10 to pace the Irish offensively.
“Going into it, with all of our injuries, we have people playing out of position,” said Henry coach Brandon Pettitt. “Even Condit had to handle the ball for us a lot, something he can do but not what he’s best at. He puts a lot of pressure on himself, but still he ended up just a point away from another double-double, which he’s averaged over the last few weeks now.
“I felt we had a good game plan, but early on, our shots just didn’t fall. We were ice cold the entire first half and the outside shots that we live off of just weren’t falling. If we make a few of those, maybe we have the lead at halftime instead of chasing six. And then, we just didn’t come out and get after it in the third quarter. We just sat back and expected something to happen after we’d been telling the kids to go out and take something from someone. Maybe we didn’t have that because these guys haven’t played together a lot and didn’t gel, but we’re going to have to find a way to make that happen moving forward.”
A pair of 3-pointers by Krause gave him eight points in Seneca’s 14-5 first period, that margin helped by Henry sinking just one of its first seven shots and finishing 2-of-10.
After a 2-of-5 second stanza, only 7-of-9 shooting from the free throw line kept the Mallards as close as 22-16 at the half.
Things got no better for Henry in the third with 2-of-9 shooting and eight turnovers.
With Krause going to the bench, Creighton O’Boyle took over the point on offense and when Hauch canned all three of his shots and Van Ness both of his (one a 3-pointer) in that quarter, the lead ballooned to 38-21.
The Mallards rallied in the fourth and finished 12-of-36 from the field, but got no closer than 16 down the stretch.
“That’s as many blocked shots as we’ve had this season,” said Seneca coach Russ Witte. “No. 5 (Miller) is a tough player for them, but we kind of noticed that no one on their team likes to finish at the rim, so our ball press was effective tonight chasing them off the (3-point) line and making them put the ball on the floor and a lot of their shots were rushed. Even when our offense was faltering, our defense was solid … Essentially, we did a good job being us. We controlled the glass, we controlled the interior, we forced them to be a jump shooting team and everything they put up, with the exception of a few late, were contested shots.
“We came in as the third seed and we go home third and against this league this year, it’s No. 1 and No. 2 and its everybody else, so every game is a dogfight and overall, I’m pleased with how we performed.”
Marquette 49, Putnam County 37
The Crusaders fans will see their victory over Putnam County in the 94th annual Tri-County Conference Tournament’s consolation championship as an overwhelming show of good defense.
The Panthers faithful will probably look at it as an example of bad luck after more bad luck.
The truth is, it was really a combination of those two factors.
The Crusaders scrapped throughout and held tourney-host PC without a field goal for a stretch of 12:04, stretching from Luke Pederson’s tip-in in the final seconds before halftime until a running hook shot by Nick Mattern with 3:58 showing in the fourth quarter.
In that span, the Panthers missed all 17 shots they took from the field, allowing Marquette — led by senior Sean Kissel’s big third quarter — to rally from a three-point deficit at the break to an 11-point lead just prior to Mattern’s drought breaker.
Kissel collected eight points in a 10-3 third quarter and finished with a game-best 21 points for the Cru. Putnam County, which finished the game shooting 33 percent, was led by nine points from Luke Pederson and eight from Stephen Mecagni.
But it was Kissel’s night to show his senior leadership for MA.
“Sean had a good tournament, period,” said Marquette coach Todd Hopkins. “It was a situation where we were going to be giving him the ball the way things were working and he made some good decisions pitching it, then Hoffman, Melvin and Logan Nelson hit some in the fourth quarter to give us some room … and Hoffman did a great job on (Jakob) Pyszka, who’s a really good player.
“We’re playing better, playing with confidence, starting to believe a little bit and hopefully that’s a very good sign going into our last seven (regular-season) games. We have a tough road ahead, but at least we got to over .500 (12-11). We were 6-9 at one point and this didn’t look possible, but these guys stuck together and just kept grinding. I’m proud of the way we played, with good hard-nosed defense, rebounding and running our offense. It’s never going to be pretty with us, but we got the job done.”
A combined nine points from Stephan Mecagni and Luke Pederson, including the latter’s tip-in of a Pyszka miss at the buzzer, gave the Panthers a 23-20 lead at intermission.
But that was the hosts last field goal for quite some time.
While PC was going 0-for-12 from the field in the third quarter, Kissel was changing the scoreboard often. His 15-footer and a bucket by Shane Reynolds tied it at 25-25 and a single free throw from Kissel put the No. 6 seeded Cru in front for good. His tip-in of a Melvin miss made it 30-25 before the run carried over into the fourth, where a trey by Logan Nelson upped the edge to 37-26 near the 5-minute mark.
Though the drought was broken by Mattern, PC still finished the second-half quarters a combined 5-for-26
“We just didn’t put everybody in the lane,” said PC coach Harold Fay. “We needed to do that and make him kick it and if they beat us from 22 feet, so be it, we’ll live with that, but we just let him dribble around too much. He’s big and strong and got to the rim and created havoc for us. Our secondary help wasn’t very good tonight, either.
“The other night we shot the ball really well and that made things easy for us. Now tonight, they’re not going in and we didn’t have an answer. We haven’t been good around the rim and if we don’t shoot well, it’s going to be a dogfight for us. We have to focus on our triangle game, the 10-foot game, shore that up and be a little more consistent offensively … Regionals are coming and I’m excited about that. If we can get that and our post game going, we’ll be just fine.”
Note: No. 1 Roanoke-Benson beat No. 2 Peoria Christian 55-51 for the title. … Henry’s Jake Miller was a unanimous all-tournament pick, while PC’s Pyszka also made the team.