WEST ALEXANDRIA — It wasn’t a thing of beauty by any stretch of the imagination but it was effective enough to get the job done.
On the verge of being blown out of the gym in the first quarter, National Trail’s boys’ basketball team recovered just enough to hand host Twin Valley South a 40-31 setback in the championship game of the 7th Annual Twin Valley South Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday, Dec. 1.
“It’s not a whole lot different than every other Trail-South game in the last couple years,” Trail Coach Mike Harrison said. “It’s a slug-fest, teams are playing hard and going down to the wire.”
As good as both teams looked on Friday – Trail beat Eaton 61-38 and South rolled by Dixie 62-38 – in their respective semifinal games, each struggled at some point in the championship contest.
“We were pitiful offensively early on,” Coach Harrison said. “I’d like to give that credit to South’s defense. They’re good in that zone they’re working on. But I thought we defended and rebounded well enough to keep the game close.”
Trail missed all 12 of its shots in the first quarter and was behind 9-1 after the first eight minutes.
But the Blazers turned the tables on South in the second. After missing its first two shots of the quarter, Trail connected on its next six shots to eventually tie the game at 9-all and a forge ahead 17-15 by the end of the quarter.
Sophomore Cameron Harrison, who was named the Most Outstanding Player of the tournament, scored 13 of his game-high 21 points in the second quarter.
“We were fortunate we had a kid go off in the second quarter to keep us in it,” Coach Harrison said. “Then I was just really pleased the whole second half.”
South helped the Blazers cause turning the ball over seven times, while only taking seven shots.
In the third quarter the lead changed hands four times with South taking a 27-25 lead into the fourth quarter.
A three-pointer by Adam Eyler gave the Blazers a 28-27 lead early in the fourth. Ryan Delong responded for South to put the Panthers back up 29-28 with 6:58 left in the game.
From there, Trail controlled the game holding South scoreless for nearly six minutes, while going on an 11-0 run that started with a three-pointer by Josh Bishop.
By the time Willie Bowman scored for South, with 1:01 left, his team trailed 39-29.
South coach Tony Augspurger knows his team had a chance to put the game away early.
“I told my guys in the locker room that if you let bad team stick around they get better and if you don’t step on the throat of a good team when you’ve got a chance then they become a good team again,” he said. “I thought in the first quarter we were sensational on defense. We won the quarter 9-1 and we missed a ton of good shots. It could have been 19-1 or it could have been 22-1 and then its stick a fork in them and now they’re pressing. As it was, we never got a big enough lead that all they needed was one little mini run and all of a sudden they’re like ‘we can win this.’”
Jayden Bassler led South with 11 points.
Making the all-tournament team was Eaton’s Dylan Jackson, South’s Jayden Bassler, South’s Cole Peterson, Trail’s Zach Woodall, Trail’s Adam Eyler and Trail’s Cameron Harrison.
Eaton ends losing skid in consolation game
In the consolation game, Dylan Jackson scored a game-high 20 points to lead Eaton to a 54-36 win over Dixie. James Howard added eight. Travis Pittman and Hunter Frost each had seven.
With the win, Eaton snapped a 22-game losing streaking. The Eagles last win came in the consolation game last season.
“It was good to get a win,” Eaton coach Denny Shepherd said. “Yesterday and tonight, I think their effort’s always been there. It’s some growth. I’m proud of the boys. We’ve got to go get another one on Tuesday.
The Eagles and Greyhounds were tied 12-12 after one and Eaton grabbed the lead, 23-20, at the half.
Eaton opened the third quarter with an 11-4 run to take a 34-24 lead with 3:16 to play. Dixie trimmed their deficit to seven, 35-28 with 1:24 left. Eaton closed out the quarter on a 4-0 run for a 39-28 lead.
After Dixie cut the lead Eagles lead to 44-35, Eaton then went on a 10-0 run to secure the win.
National Trail (2-0) is scheduled to host Bradford on Friday, Dec. 7 and Preble Shawnee on Saturday.
Twin Valley South (1-1) was scheduled to play at Valley View on Tuesday, Dec. 4 and at Waynesville on Saturday.
Eaton (1-1) is off until Tuesday, Dec. 11, when it returns home to play Brookville.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH