VANDALIA — Tony Augspurger knew his Twin Valley South boys basketball team was the underdog when it met No. 12 Stivers in the second round of the Division III sectional basketball tournament last week.
The Panthers kept the game tight through the first three-plus quarters, but the Tigers used 12-0 run beginning midway though the fourth quarter to pull away for a 60-45 win on Thursday, March 1, in a game played at Vandalia-Butler High School.
South, the No. 13 seed, made just one of its last 10 shots during of the final five minutes of the game to see a 41-all game slip away.
“I have no fault with our effort. I thought our effort was good,” Augspurger said. “To get an upset we just didn’t put enough pressure on them by getting enough of a lead. I think the most we ever led was by three. Certainly in the second half we were playing a little bit of catch up. We never got up enough to really put some heat on them to get them uptight.”
The game was tied at 12-all after the first quarter and 22-all at halftime. The Panthers opened a 32-29 lead with four minutes to play in the third quarter.
Stivers, which upset No. 4 seed Middletown Madison in the first round, responded with a 10-2 run to close out the quarter and take a 39-34 lead.
South regained the momentum with a 7-2 run during the first three minutes of the fourth quarter to tie the game at 41-all.
After a Stivers basket made the score 43-41 with 4:53 remaining, South committed back-to-back turnovers which the Tigers turned into points and a 47-41 lead with 3:42 to go.
By the time South scored again, on a 3-pointer from Willie Bowman with 1:07 left, the damage was already done as Stivers closed the game on a 19-4 run.
“I thought we did everything well enough to be in the game, but nothing well enough to win. We got stops, but not quite enough. We made shots, but not enough,” Augspurger said. “We handled their pressure to a certain extent until we just kind of blew up.”
Bowman finished with a team-high 11 points. Travis Lovely added 10, while Ryan Bassler, Jayden Bassler and Nathan Osborn each had seven, six and six respectively.
South, which finished the season 9-14, shot just 14-of-42 from field, including going 7-for-19 from 3-point range. Stivers was 24-of-48 and out rebounded the Panthers 36-20.
South committed only 13 turnovers, but eight of those were in the second half.
Augspurger said the program is going to miss senior Bryant Marker, Ryan Bassler, Jacob Wells and Travis Lovely.
“This was not the most physically talented group of seniors that I’ve had. But they were guys that really worked hard within their physical ability. We weren’t overly big. We weren’t overly athletic. They were a competitive group,” he said. “Travis and Ryan have given us a lot of good effort over the past three years and Jacob has given me two years of busting his tail and Bryant was a great team guy this year.”
Despite the loss of the four seniors Augspurger is optimistic about next season.
We’ve got underclassman coming back that the possibility is there for us to be good. Our work ethic, mindset and toughness have got to get better,” he said. “That’s just the truth.”
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH