WEST ALEXANDRIA — Even though his team managed to split a pair of Cross County Conference games last weekend, Twin Valley South boys’ basketball coach Tony Augspurger knows his team has to get better on defense.
In both games, the Panthers had defensive lapses.
They built a big enough lead on Friday (Jan. 19) to hang on and defeat Newton, 70-64, but couldn’t overcome a sluggish fourth-quarter performance at Tri-Village on Saturday and suffered a 55-51 loss.
Against Newton, South led 51-30 midway through the third quarter.
“We had two really good stretches in that game. We went on a 17-1 run over the final four minutes of the first quarter to open up a 22-12 lead and then we had a 14-5 run over the first four minutes of the second half to stretch it to 51-30,” Augspurger said. “From that point in time I thought we let down with our defensive intensity and defensive integrity. Newton pushed the ball and we didn’t get back and identify and stop threats very well.”
Augspurger said he felt good about where his team was heading in late December.
“Through the first round of the Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament, I was really pleased and excited by the direction we were going defensively,” he said. “Starting with our Northwestern win in the Consolation game we have just not played well defensively. It’s been very frustrating and I think the calendar and weather limiting our practice time has contributed.”
Senior Travis Lovely led the Panthers with 24 point and eight rebounds.
“He finished strong and shot his free throws with confidence,” Augspurger said.
Ryan Bassler had an eight assist and zero turnover game.
Nathan Osborn added 10 points.
“He became our first non Willie (Bowman), non Travis double figure scorer and really got us going to end the first period,” Augspurger said.
Bowman, who scored 15 points, returned to the Panthers lineup after missing two weeks with an injury.
“It was nice to have Willie back. He definitely played rusty this weekend like someone who had missed two weeks and only been able to practice for two days before playing, but it was good to be back to a full roster,” Augspurger said.
On Saturday, South got off to a rough start, but still managed to take a lead into the fourth quarter against Tri-Village.
“We played poorly the first 12 minutes of the Tri-Village game and then went on a 27-10 run to end the half and through the third quarter to take a 36-29 lead into the fourth,” Augspurger said. “Tri Village was excellent and we were awful on D again in the fourth. They went 4-for-5 on treys in the quarter (7-9 for the game) and 8-for-8 from the free throw line to score 26 points in the fourth and beat us 55-51. It was a disheartening game because we had some adversity early, weathered the storm, took control of the game and then turned around and handed them a ton of opportunities right back.”
South (6-8, 4-4 CCC) has been in several games this season, but have managed to come up short against teams Augspurger feels they could have beaten.
“We have played and lost to two teams this year who were clearly superior to the line ups we were able to put on the floor in Bethel and Fenwick. Our other six losses are all frustrating in that they were games we were capable of winning,” he said.
Lovely had another stellar night with 18 points and 10 rebounds.
Cade Cottingim and Jacob Wells also played key roles helping the Panthers to a third quarter lead.
“I thought we had an outstanding stretch from Cade Cottingim and Jacob Wells during our big run in the third quarter,” Augpsurger said.
The schedule doesn’t get any easier this week.
“It’s not getting easier for us at Brookville on Tuesday and a double weekend at Mississiniwa (Valley) and home for Preble Shawnee (Saturday). If we don’t fix our defensive woes immediately, we could really go in a bad direction fast.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH