CARLISLE — The Preble Shawnee Arrows gained an extra week to prepare for what amounted to the biggest game of the season thus far. They made the extra week pay off in a big way, stunning Carlisle in front of the Indian crowd, 59-52.
It was the most pivotal game of the young season in the league. The Arrows (4-1, 4-0 Southwestern Buckeye League) move into first place by a full game and now have the early advantage over Carlisle (4-1, 3-1).
“We knew going into it that there’d be stretches where we had it going, and there’d be stretches where they had it going,” Shawnee head coach Dale Spitler Jr. said. “And that’s exactly what happened. It was a game of runs.”
The Arrows fired out of the gate quickly, taking a 15-6 lead into the second quarter. But, much like Spitler Jr. said, Carlisle fought back. Carlisle led 28-25 at the half. The score narrowed to 42-41, Carlisle, at the end of the third. However, Preble Shawnee went for blood in the fourth quarter, outscoring the Indians 18-10.
“We made a bunch of free throws and a bunch of nice plays to get the win,” Spitler Jr. said.
The Arrows trailed by as many as 12 in the third quarter, and coming back for the big win was especially encouraging for Spitler Jr.
“Our guys are resilient,” Spitler Jr said. “We called a timeout with like 10 or 12 minutes left and said, ‘We’ve got one last run in us, we can scratch and claw our way back in this.’ And that’s what we did.”
In the fourth quarter, the Arrows turned to two familiar faces: senior Kevin Ketring, and junior Joey Bates.
Bates finished with a second consecutive double-double. He featured a team-high 24 points while adding 10 rebounds.
“Joey was a monster,” Spitler Jr. said.
Ketring finished the game with 10 points and eight rebounds. Where Ketring excelled, as is becoming the norm, was in the fourth quarter. He finished with seven points in the fourth, five coming from the free throw line. He finished 6-for-8 from the stripe.
Spitler turned to junior guard Levi Lewis to add another 14 points. The team finished with only three players scoring over five points, and it was enough to hold off the red-hot Indians.
He was extremely proud of Bates and the rest of the team on the glass. The Arrows outrebounded Carlisle, 40-to-37.
The Arrows are now the favorites to win the league. With the first big hurdle pushed aside, the team can now move forward and look to grind out a grueling season. A thought always in the back of high schoolers minds, Spitler Jr. wants to stay focused on each game. However, he does see this as a team that can accomplish a banner season.
“We take it one game at a time. Obviously, now, that’s a goal in our heads,” Spitler Jr. said. “We all know there’s going to be some tough nights. That’s definitely a realistic goal now.”
“That was good stuff,” Spitler Jr. said. “We’ve had a lot of support from the school down there, a lot of support from the community, and the players are excited. That was a good win to get everybody.”
“They’re a well-coached team,” Spitler Jr. said. “It was a good win.”
Shawnee will now finish the first half of the season on top of the division. They turn toward the Holiday Tournament, this week, before leaving 2016 behind.
“We’ve got North coming up and then we’ve got either Edgewood or South. I’d like to get that Holiday Tournament win,” Spitler Jr. said. “That’s kind of a goal of our guys, to bring that back to Shawnee.”
Preble Shawnee will host the annual Holiday Tournament on Dec. 29 and 30. Games will begin at 6 p.m. both days. After that, Shawnee is off until 2017. The Arrows will take to the road on Jan. 6, to play Waynesville at 7:30 p.m.