DAYTON — The National Trail boys basketball team ended the year at the hands of Cross County Conference opponent Miami East, losing 60-33 at Belmont High School on Saturday, Feb. 20.
The Blazers hung tough for the majority of the first quarter, pushing a 4-4 tie six minutes into the contest. But two quick turnovers in a 30 second span turned the momentum in East’s favor and they never looked back.
“(East) has done that to a lot of teams this year. We struggled rebounding the basketball. East is a very big and strong and athletic team that we just didn’t match up well with and that got to us. Too many easy baskets,” said Trail head coach Mike Harrison. “We set out to try to win the paint area defensively and make them have to shoot over us to beat us. We did a lot of good things in that area but it was more the offensive rebounds that gave them opportunities to shoot layups on us.”
After the stalemate for the majority of the opening quarter, East ended the frame on a 10-2 run and extended their lead to 30-10 midway through the second. They also pressed the Blazers for the majority of the first half, forcing numerous turnovers while also controlling the offensive boards for several second-chance points.
“We knew that was coming. We practiced for it. We’ve improved but haven’t improved enough to handle that pressure just yet,” said Harrison.
Trail closed out the second on a 7-5 run, heading into halftime down 37-20.
East only outscored the Blazers 11-8 in the third and 12-5 in the fourth, but the game was well in hand by that time.
The Blazers showed much improvement from earlier in the season however, as the Vikings beat Trail by 57 points in their first meeting in late-December.
“Tonight I thought we competed a lot better. The game really wasn’t in doubt but I thought we did a lot of things more positive. I’m really proud of the guys, they were dealt a tough blow with kids moving away and some kids just decided they didn’t want to play basketball,” said Harrison. “They didn’t sulk, they didn’t pout. They came to work every day to get better. That’s what we asked of them that’s what they did. I’m really, really proud of this group.”
Trail dressed seven freshman and sophomores and only graduate one player in senior Dylan Haas.
“I just give him a lot of credit for sticking around and he kept working on (his game),” said Harrison. “I’m sure there were times throughout the year he wanted to get more playing time but his attitude always stayed positive and he’s had a few games like tonight, where he has come in and really given us a big contribution. He’s a great kid and we’ll certainly miss him.”
Haas ended the game with nine points for the Blazers while Chase Thompson led the team with 10. Dalton Mason also chipped in with seven points on the night.
Reach Jeremy at 937-683-4061 or on Twitter @jerskine_RH.