ALEDO -- Last year, the Galva boys' basketball team enjoyed the double distinction of winning the Lincoln Trail Conference's tournament and regular-season championships.|
Now, the Wethersfield Flying Geese are hoping to repeat that feat. They accomplished the first part of that Saturday night in the LTC Tournament finals, surviving a back-and-forth game by using a late defensive stand to prevail 57-54 and capture the first-place trophy.
"We all knew it was going to be a game with them," said Wethersfield coach Jeff Parsons, whose 21-3 club now hopes to take sole possession of the LTC lead when it travels to Galva (18-4) Tuesday night to face the Wildcats; the teams sit tied atop the regular-season standings at 6-0.
"No matter what the records are, it's going to be tough. Coach (Chance) Jones does a great job with that team. We didn't play our best tonight, but credit Galva with that, and credit to Coach Jones after losing four good players from last year's team."
Wethersfield flew out to a quick 9-0 lead, but the Wildcats settled down to go up 14-13 as David Jeffries scored half of his 14 points in the opening period. The back-and-forth pace continued in the second period, with Galva going up by four before settling for a 32-30 halftime edge. The 'Cats shot 65 percent in the first half, with the Geese hitting 50 percent of their shots.
Neither team led by no more than four points in the third quarter, with Wethersfield taking a 47-45 on a late putback bucket by Trey Hannam. Defense became the order of the night for the Geese in the final period as they went up 54-47 with 4:45 remaining on a Kegan Jacobson three-point play. Galva got no closer than four after that.
"We always trust our defense; we'd rather guard late than try and hit a shot," said Parsons, who got a game-high 23 points from Trevor Lay, with Jacobson adding 11. Galva was led by 15 from Dexter Ingels, but he was held to just three points after halftime. Reece Hoxworth added 14.
"We had the heart tonight. Now, we get to do this all over again Tuesday night."
Eagles bounce back for bronze: One night after seeing sizable leads vanish in a heartbreaking 72-69 semifinal loss to Wethersfield, the Mercer County Golden Eagles bounced back on fine fashion on their home court, rolling past Stark County 60-44 to capture third place.
"One of the things I was concerned about was our energy level, but I thought we started the game off well," said Mercer County coach Brian Hutton. "We hit the floor ready to play. Give the kids a lot of credit, especially beating a team that beat us (46-40) earlier in the year."
The duo of senior Tanner Matlick and junior Tyson Nylin each netted 16 points to pace the 14-9 tourney hosts, with Brandon Butcher chipping in with 10 points. Up 19-14 after the first quarter, the Eagles clamped down on the Rebels (9-14) defensively, allowing just nine second-period points to extend their lead to 31-23 by halftime.
Stark County tried to mount a second-half counteroffensive behind Jake Berchtold's 11 points, but Mercer County sealed the deal by outscoring the Rebels 17-8 in the final eight minutes.
Spartans earn consolation prize: Much like their female roundball counterparts did at their LTC Tournament, the Ridgewood Spartans (14-10) finished on a high note with the consolation title by blitzing ROWVA 70-51 behind a game-high 25 points from senior standout Elisha McCreary.
Ridge Greenman (13 points) and Sam Althaus (12) also hit double digits for Ridgewood, which hit the ground running by building a 25-12 first-quarter lead. Led by Kyle Woodside's 19 points, the Tigers did close the gap to 32-26 by halftime, but the Spartans held them to nine third-quarter points and never looked back.
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