CAMDEN — Coming off a tough, emotional loss from the previous night, Twin Valley South’s boys’ basketball team rebounded for a 66-63 win over Springfield Northwestern in the consolation game of the Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 30.
South fell to the host Arrows, 56-54, in the closing seconds in the opening round on Friday.
“I think we had a little bit of a hangover game from last night. It was an emotional, hard-fought loss where Shawnee and us both battled and we weren’t able to get it done,” South coach Tony Augspurger said. “I think that we weren’t quite mentally right on the defensive side of things today.”
Against Northwestern, the Panthers battled a team with a patient offense and shot over 50 percent on the night.
“I thought Northwestern played with a lot of patience. They ran a lot of screens and then eventually we broke down some. We’ve done a good job this year of not being the team that breaks down on defense very often,” Augspurger said. “This was our worst defensive effort. In my mind it’s not even close. But, they (Northwestern) did a good job. They made shots.”
The Panthers, despite shooting 50 percent in the first half, trailed 34-32 at the break. Northwestern was 14-of-24 in the first half and finished game making 26-of-46 shot attempts.
Junior Willie Bowman scored 11 of his 22 points in the opening quarter before getting into foul trouble.
Senior Travis Lovely, who scored a game-high 29 points, picked up the slack by scoring seven in the second quarter to keep South close. The lead changed hands six times and was tied six times in the second quarter.
South kept going to Lovely in the third quarter as the senior scored 13 of the Panthers’ 20 points. South was able to build a five-point lead on three occasions in the third, but couldn’t put the Warriors away. The Panthers led 52-47 with just over a minutes left in the quarter, before Northwestern went on a quarter-ending 7-0 run.
Behind Bowman and Lovely, the Panthers opened the fourth on an 6-2 run for a 58-56 lead. The Warriors tied the game at 58-all with 3:12 left. South regained the lead on a pair of free throws by Lovely with 2:56 left and never trailed again, but had to survive a 3-point attempt at the buzzer.
“We were a little better in the fourth (quarter) and I thought we handled their pressure well late,” Augspurger said.
Augspurger felt Lovely, who was named to the all-tournament team, played well both nights.
“Travis finished really, really strong. He got O (offensive) boards. He got post-ups and did a great job for us. Travis had two really good second halves in this tournament. He played really well last night in the second half and he played really well tonight in the second half,” Augspurger said. “He’s gotten more confident about finishing and about finishing against big people. I think he’s done a really good job. He was outstanding for us.”
The veteran coach felt Bowman struggled after getting into foul trouble.
“I think Willie was a little bit out of sync. It’s kind of funny when a guy gets 22 and we feel he’s a little out of sync,” he said.
Augpurger said he felt the ability for his team to knock down free throws late a key to the game, including making six of its final seven attempts.
“We hit some big free throws which is something that we’ve struggled with some. In a tight game we have to step up and make free throws and we had guys stepping up and making free throws in the fourth quarter,” he said. “We were 16 for 20 from the free throw line and that was huge.”
Against Shawnee, Bowman led the Panthers with 21 points, including 13 in the first half. Lovely, tallied 14 on the night, including 10 in the second half.
South (5-4) has now won four of its last five games.
“I keep saying kind of the same thing, we got a chance to be pretty good. We’re not there yet. Our record in not what we believe it should be. We got a brutal weekend coming up next weekend with Bethel and Middletown Fenwick and Ansonia on Tuesday,” he said. “That’s a rugged stretch, but I also think we’re getting better.”
The Panthers will play at Bethel on Friday, Jan. 5 and at Fenwick on Saturday to complete a five-game stretch of away games. They will return home for a match-up with Ansonia on Tuesday, Jan. 9, at home.