WEST ALEXANDRIA — With a pair of conference wins this past weekend, Twin Valley South’s boys’ basketball team is closing in on clinching at least a share of the Cross County Conference championship.
After posting a 74-42 win over Mississinawa Valley on Friday, Feb. 1, and a 72-64 win at Franklin-Monroe on Saturday, the Panthers are now 15-2 overall and 8-1 in the CCC with three conference game remaining.
South, winners of 10 straight, will host Bradford on Friday, Feb. 8, and will entertain Bethel on Saturday, Feb. 9, in a pair of CCC games.
“We now have the huge challenge of getting ready to play four games in five nights…thankfully, all are at home, but we follow up Bradford on Friday with a chance to clinch at least a conference tie on Saturday against Bethel,” South coach Tony Augspurger said. “We will then hopefully finally get a chance to play the monster non-league game against 15-2 Brookville on Monday night and then host Carlisle for senior night on Tuesday. I would love to see some packed houses for this group we’ve got. If you haven’t seen us yet, and if you like good team basketball, I really think you would enjoy watching our team.”
The F-M game proved to be the more difficult of the two last weekend.
“For the second Saturday in a row, I thought we did a good job of handling some on the road adversity at Franklin Monroe,” Augspurger said.
FM came out shooting the ball extremely well and grabbed a 14-8 lead.
South’s Willie Bowman hit a deep three from somewhere near Arcanum, according to Augspurger, and Nate Osborn followed with back-to-back threes to give South a 17-14 lead and they never trailed again.
“For the first time all year some early foul trouble really had a chance to cause us problems. With Brayden Marker playing two quarters of JV and three varsity, we just hold him until the start of the second quarter and he’s good to finish,” Augspurger said. “Cade Cottingim picked up his third foul with a minute thirty to go in the first quarter, so we had to have him finish the quarter with three. Cole Petersen also picked up two quick fouls, so we played the second quarter with both Brayden and Ryan Delong playing the full quarter and both did an excellent job for us. To do what we are trying to do and win a conference championship and think about making a tournament run we are going to have nights when one or both of them is asked to do a little more than normal and they did that very well for us on Saturday.”
After leading by seven at the half, the Panthers extended their lead to 14 by the end of the third.
“I thought we played a really good third quarter, to bump our halftime lead of seven up to fourteen. We did not finish the game defensively nearly as well as I’d have liked, but we were also playing a defense that we haven’t played in a game in all year or worked on in practice very much,” Augspurger said. “It showed some, but we did enough offensively in the fourth so that it never seemed our lead was in terrible jeopardy.”
Augspurger was pleased with the overall play of his team.
“Cade did a good job of hitting two big shots after having to sit for a quarter and a half with the three fouls and Cole had eight second half points after also sitting the whole second quarter. Jayden played well all around with 11 points, five boards and four assists. It was Nate Osborn’s best game of the year offensively. He was 4-4 from deep, had his first 20 point varsity game and led us with five offensive rebounds and five assists,” Augspurger said. “Finally, in what could be a showdown between the two biggest candidates for CCC Player of the Year I thought Willie Bowman was outstanding going against FM’s Ethan Conley. Willie led us with 26 points and nine rebounds and had four steals. All in all it was another excellent offensive night for our team as we shot 56 percent overall and 50 percent from the three.”
On Friday, Bassler turned in yet another outstanding performance with 23 points on 9-of-13 shooting. Bowman finished with 14, while Peterson tallied 13 and Cottingim 10.
Bassler also added eight rebounds, four steals and four assists.
Osborn had 10 assists and five rebounds.
Bowman added seven rebounds, six assists and three steals.
South held a 16-9 lead after the first quarter and was up 27-18 at the break.
A 10-3 run to begin the second half put the Panthers in complete control and they led 46-30 after three.
In the fourth, South ended the game on a 19-2 run for the final margin.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4056 or on Twitter @emowen_RH