CAMDEN — For Preble Shawnee coach Jake Turner and Twin Valley South coach Ryan Innis, the opening minutes of the championship game of the 38th Annual Preble Shawnee Holiday Tournament was going to be key to the outcome.
And both were right.
Shawnee raced out to a 13-0 lead in the game’s first three minutes and never looked back in claiming a 70-44 win over the Panthers on Wednesday, Dec. 29.
Shawnee sophomore Mason Shrout, the tournament’s most valuable player, led all scorers with 34 points, including going 17-of-17 from the foul line. He also pulled down 13 rebounds and had four assists and three steals.
“I was really proud of our effort tonight. I thought we were locked in from the beginning. I think our energy was kind of unbelievable. We go off our defense and our defense was active tonight in the first quarter and it kind of led to a lot of easy buckets for us and energy, momentum,” Shawnee coach Jake Turner said.
“We preach getting out to a good start, the first four minutes get ready to go. We’ve struggled a little bit the last couple of games, just flat and not a lot of energy. This might have been the first time they actually played in (front of) a big crowd. Last year not having a big crowd (and) we got a young team. So having that energy I think our guys really they thrived off of that tonight and I thought it helped us a lot. So I think some of the crowd had something to do with our start but I think also our guys being locked in ready to go.”
Senior Xavier Adams, also selected to the all-tournament team, got the scoring started with a three-pointer just 15 seconds into the game.
Adams finished with 12 points and five rebounds.
Cooper Roell, who finished the game with six points and two assists, added two free throws for a 5-0 lead. A pair of Shrout three’s and a fast break layup from Adams capped off the run.
Shawnee led 24-8 after the first quarter and 45-19 at the half.
The Arrows shot 14-of-27 in the first half, while South was 8-of-20.
In the third, Shawnee outscored the Panthers 18-10, with Shrout scoring 16, to take a 63-29 lead into the final quarter.
South was led by Grant Ulrich, who scored 11 points and had four steals and three rebounds. Jandon Ankrom finished with nine points and four rebounds. Luca Sievering added eight points and two rebounds.
“Anytime you win, doesn’t matter where you play, where you’re at, what tournament it is or game anything, anytime you win, it’s great feeling,” Turner said.
Turner believes his team is getting closer to full strength.
“We’re getting closer. We’re still we’re still a couple weeks away. I think two, three weeks, you know. I think we’re eight days with our full team so far this year. So we were getting there. And guys are buying in and believe in what we’re doing and it’s not easy,” he said. “Basketball on a level we want to play at, in the games we want to win, it’s not easy to do. You got to be locked in and committed and two feet in and our guys are two feet in right now.”
For Innis, South’s second-year coach, the slow start was the difference in the game.
“We really preached coming out, knowing with their firepower and how deadly they are offensively, we knew we couldn’t afford a slow start,” he said. “Coming in, I said, we’re gonna see where we are. We’re 8-1. And this was a whole other monster coming in the night and the first first three minutes, spotting them 13 points, to a really, really, really good ball team it’s hard to overcome and that that kind of dictated that the entire game unfortunately.
“We didn’t quit. We did some we did some really good things in the second half. And that’s one thing I can always hang my hat on at the end of night with this group is, there’s no quit and these guys. They have so much pride and heart and they work their tails off in practice. I never have to worry about these guys quitting and and I love these guys and how hard they work and how are they compete.”
On the opening night, Shawnee beat Union County (IN) 62-47 and South beat Tri-County North 47-39.
“It was a physical game. I thought they did a great job defensively on Mason trying to take him out of the game completely, but I thought we had some guys step up,” Turner said. “One thing I was proud of our guys last night was we had four or five guys with eight plus points. We shared the basketball. Yes, we have a great player. There’s no doubt about it. Everybody knows that around here. Let’s just call what it is. But he does a great job getting his teammates involved. We got five guys that can score it and that helps.”
Shrout finished with 18 points, 19 rebounds, five steals and four assists. Adams added nine points and seven rebounds. Ethan Woodard and Dylan Campbell each contributed eight points.
”I think this is the best I’ve seen a Xavier play since I’ve been here,” Turner said. “I thought he just was so aggressive on both ends, offensively and defensively. But I was just proud of his effort tonight and how he was just all over the court. He’s making plays in transition, was leaking out and scoring, getting rebounds, and running the floor. He was locked in tonight. If he plays at that level moving forward that’s gonna be a big, big help.”
Roell ended with 10 points, five steals and four assists.
“He’s nails. He’s kind of our leader, point guard, team captain. I thought defensively he was unbelievable on his ball pressured tonight,” Turner said. “I think he gave their point guards a lot of issues and troubles. He’s a little bit down on himself right now because the shot’s not falling. He’s a way better shooter than what his percentage is and I know they’re (shots) gonna start to fall. We believe in him and that’s why we’re telling him to keep shooting if he’s open.”
Turner said senior Dane Klapper has stepped up over the past few games.
”Dane, the last two, three games have gave us a great minutes. He was a guy kind of early on that wasn’t playing a whole lot. Didn’t pout, didn’t complain. Continued to work, to continued to grind and he’s proving that he deserved to play. It’s hard to keep him out of the rotation now,” Turner said. “He’s doing a great job and he’s earned his minutes and I just love his energy.”
For South in the opener, Ankrom led the way with 15 points and nine rebounds. Ulrich added nine points, five rebounds and four steals. Sievering finished with six point and a team-high 11 rebounds. Cole McNinch tossed in five points and five rebounds, while Seth Vorhis contributed six points and three rebounds.
For North, Logan Flory had 17 points and three rebounds. Jon Shirley tossed in 10 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Braden McCloud contributed six points.
North fall in consolation game
A short-handed North team suffered a 68-43 loss in the consolation game to Union County (IN).
“We were kind of stumbling through some JV players trying to get some type of momentum,” North coach Mitch McCurdy said. “A lot of people that weren’t used to seeing the court got to see the court tonight. So I think that’s a good thing for the program moving forward. Obviously, with the turnout that we have, we’re not happy with that. But with our second half effort, like I told the guys they keep fighting and they keep fighting. So we got to find that there in the second half of the season.”
North fell behind 13-0 in the first four minutes and played from behind the entire game.
The Panthers trailed 21-8 after the first quarter and trailed 42-14 at the half. The Patriots extended their lead ti 53-28 after three.
Flory led the Panthers with 21 points, five rebounds and four steals. Luke Eby added 10 points, three rebounds and three steals.
Preble Shawnee (7-1) was scheduled to play Ponitz on Tuesday, Jan. 4 and will host Bradford on Friday, Jan. 7.
Twin Valley South (8-2) was scheduled to play Valley View on Jan. 4 and will visit Mississinawa Valley on Jan. 7.
Tri-County North (2-7) is scheduled to play at Franklin-Monroe on Jan. 7 and will host Brookville on Saturday, Jan. 8.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr