CAMDEN — The Preble Shawnee boys basketball team took home third place in its own holiday tournament after defeating Tri-County North, 52-50, on Wednesday, Dec. 30, in the consolation game, at the Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament.
The Arrows improved to 6-2 on the season with the victory, as Dylan Weireter scored 16 points to lead the Arrows in the consolation game.
For the Panthers, it’s the team’s third-straight loss by four points or less, and marks the sixth time in the team’s first nine games the outcome was decided by five points or less. They are now 1-8 on the season.
The Panthers lost the opening round game on Tuesday, Dec. 29, to Twin Valley South by four points, 56-52 despite Kurt Brinson’s 25 points and 15 rebounds.
Brinson led the Panthers with 18 points against Preble Shawnee.
The Arrows found themselves in the consolation game after eventual tournament champion Talawanda defeated them 58-39 on Tuesday, Dec. 29.
The Panthers led the majority of the first quarter when Weireter’s tip-in at the end of the first quarter cut the visitors’ lead to a single point at 13-12.
The Arrows seized the lead in the second quarter despite big man Thomas Buell picking up his second foul in the quarter.
The Panthers battled back and teams entered halftime with the score tied at 30 with the lead never being more than five points in the half for either team.
The Panthers struck first in the second half to grab a 32-30 lead. With the score tied at 32 Buell found space for an open shot and made the Panthers pay to give the Arrows a two point led.
Riding the hot hand, the Arrows found Buell on the next two possessions as the senior went on a 6-0 run by himself to give the hosts a 38-32 lead. Buell scored 13 points and grabbed six rebounds in the contest.
Joey Bates capped off the 10-0 run with a layup for two of his ten points, and the Arrows were up, 40-32.
By the end of the third, Preble Shawnee led 43-38.
Zach Edgin made a three early in the fourth for the Panthers, to cut the lead to 43-45.
Kevin Ketring then blocked a Gabe Brinson lay-up attempt to set up a transition layup for the Arrows for a 47-43 lead.
With just over four minutes to play, Buell scored an old fashioned three-point play to put the Arrows up 52-45. It appeared the hosts were about to pull away.
Buell’s free throw was the last point scored for the home team. The Arrows slowed the game down on offense as the remaining possessions resulted in two turnovers and misses on the front end of two one-and-one free throw attempts.
Preble Shawnee head coach Jason Crider spoke about the decision to slow the game down: “I’m the one who told them to hold it and make them come out. I wanted to milk the clock as long as they were going to stay in the zone. I’m glad we came out with the victory because you always hate when you make a decision that might cost the team the game.”
The Panthers had several missed opportunities themselves down the stretch, but with time for one last shot they used their last timeout to set up a final shot.
The initial shot was an air ball, but sophomore Gabe Brinson was there for the offensive rebound and was fouled on the put-back attempt with 4.3 seconds left. With his team down 52-50 and only 4.2 seconds on the clock, Brinson went to the free throw line with a chance to force overtime.
Brinson missed both free throws, but the Arrows were unable to secure the rebound and the ball went out of bounds to the Panthers.
With no timeouts, the Panthers set up an in-bounds pass to lob to Kurt Brinson. The pass was lofted into the paint and to Brinson’s outstretched arm with time for one shot, but he was unable to finish and the final buzzer sounded with the Arrows coming out on top.
“I can’t believe they guarded him one-on-one and gave him the backside without any help. We got a decent look for 1.8 seconds and that’s all you can ask for,” Tri-County North’s first-year head coach Dale Spitler said of the final play.
Spitler talked about losing yet another close game afterwards: “Frustrating that we are getting that close but I’m proud of our guys for fighting and staying in it; that’s’ the probably best effort I’ve seen from are guys this year.
“Kurt played tremendous yesterday and played great tonight. I don’t feel like we blew it at all.”
Shawnee continues its strong start to the season, although Crider was disappointed to be playing in the consolation game.
“We didn’t show up to play yesterday (Tuesday, Dec 29), we played our worst game of the year yesterday, but I challenged them and the effort was back tonight.”
On Saturday, Jan. 2, the Panthers fell to Carlisle by a score of 64-57. They return to action on Tuesday, Jan 5, against Seton Catholic before facing Bethel on Friday, Dec. 8 for a Cross County Conference match-up. They are now 1-9.
Preble Shawnee (6-2, 3-1) returns to SWBL action on Friday, Dec. 8 when they host Waynesville and Tri-County North.
Reach Austin Schmidt at 937-683-4062 or on Twitter @aschmidt_RH.