Calvert drops Warriors

FOSTORIA – Ted Willman’s vision back in the summer for Calvert basketball likely differed a great deal from the way things have played out.

There have been more valleys than peaks, more development than establishment and more frustration than satisfaction. Such is the measure of a 5-17 regular season.

But the Senecas will be one up on roughly half of the teams in the state after gaining an opening tournament victory Tuesday by bouncing Mohawk 84-70 in the Division IV sectional at Fostoria High School.

“You’ve got to build on something,” Willman said after his club advanced to Friday’s 6:15 p.m. title game against top-seeded Midland Athletic League co-champion Old Fort. The winner moves on to next week’s Lakota district.

“We told the guys (Monday) night after practice this will be an opportunity and basically we’ve played 22 scrimmages,” Willman said. “And anything can happen in tournament.”

What happened for the Senecas Tuesday was the biggest offensive output of the year on their best shooting night. It was also their most productive night at the foul line and certainly one of their best rebounding nights.

Calvert never trailed and the game was tied but once at 5-5 early in the first period. When Jared Thompson drove for a layup, it was the first of eight straight points in a matter of a minute and the foundation for a 15-8 first-quarter lead.

Though no one knew it at the time that was pretty much the ballgame. Mohawk could draw no closer than three points and Calvert never led by more than 13 until the Warriors sent the Senecas parading to the foul line often in the closing minutes.

“We just got behind early and we weren’t able to pull back and get into our real style,” Mohawk coach John Arnold said after his club closed a 7-16 season. “We got down on ourselves a little bit early and lost some confidence and we were never able to quite gain it back.”

It was 21-18 after Mohawk’s Mitch Parker scored on a post move with 2:49 left in the half.

Calvert senior point guard Nick Warnement, playing in only his fourth game after recovering from a wrist injury, sparked a big finish for the Senecas with a short jumper. He fed Austin Perry and Thompson for inside hoops and then Thompson added two more baskets on a drive and a power post play off a Michael Bennett pass. Parker’s steal for two made it 31-22 at the half.

Calvert had a 25-9 rebounding advantage at that point and the margin was 42-29 by game’s end. More important, the Senecas hit 28-of-47 from the field and converted 25-of-37 from the foul line.

Thompson led the winners with 18 points and contributed six rebounds.

“Jared had a nice night for us tonight,” Willman said. “He went out and finished inside. We talked about getting to the rim. We felt we would have opportunities to get to the rim. Jared did that and Austin Perry (10 points, eight rebounds) did a good job in there, too.”

“I give Jared Thompson a lot of credit,” Arnold said. “He played very well tonight, did his job, didn’t force anything and when they gave him the ball, he executed and scored. I wouldn’t have thought he’d score 18 on us but he did and that’s one of the differences of the game.”

Calvert’s leader board was crowded as Bennett tossed in 16 points, Brian Gruss scored 12 points and was the top rebounder with 11 and Austin Ball checked in with 11 points. It was Gruss’ second double-double against the Warriors this year.

Meanwhile, Warnement just missed double figures with eight points, but he also had seven assists, six blocks and three steals.

For all of that, the Senecas were never able to get too comfortable. Parker and Drew Loose (eight rebounds) each scored 21 points for the Warriors and Grant Ekleberry had five 3-pointers on the way to a 17-point night.

“We told our guys Mohawk’s going to play 32 minutes,” Willman said. “If they had a couple (more) buckets that they make and we have some foul shots that we don’t make, who knows?”

Old Fort roughed up the Senecas 89-32 but that was on Jan. 11, roughly a month before Warnement returned to the lineup.

“He’s not 100 percent, but with him back, our guys have confidence in what they can do and I think we’re looking for this opportunity,” Willman said.