Seneca East fouled out of tourney

LEXINGTON – For those who enjoyed the dulcet tones of Mike Clapper, they got to hear plenty of him Tuesday night.

With 51 foul calls, 27 turnovers, an overtime and Seneca East and Wynford exhausting nearly all their timeouts, Lexington High School’s public address announcer had plenty to share with the crowd at the Division III boys basketball sectional semifinal.

In the end, he also got to share a final score, with Wynford prevailing in overtime, 67-60.

“I’m proud of my kids. They fought hard and took them to overtime. Things didn’t go our way,” Seneca East coach Joe Bedingfield said.

The game see-sawed with 10 lead changes, including eight in the second half. With 1:39 to go in regulation, the teams were tied at 45. Mason Davis scored on a runner only to see Ethan Caudill answer six seconds later with a bucket and a foul shot to make it 48-47 with 1:24 to go.

Todd Carter drained a pair of free throws to have Wynford take the lead again and after a Seneca East possession that ended with no points, Davis was back at the line with 31 seconds left in the game, making the front end of two free throws for the 50-48 margin.

Ben Hahler answered the bell for the Tigers with 14 seconds left in regulation, scoring from the post to tie it at 50.

Michael Powers missed on a jumper and Carter snared the miss but also missed on the putback as the buzzer sounded.

Wynford came out in overtime on fire, scoring on three straight possessions, thanks in part to two Seneca East turnovers, to take a 57-50 lead with 2:34 to go.

But the Tigers weren’t done. Caudill scored on two of the Tigers’ next three possessions sandwiched around four straight misses from the free throw line by Wynford.

The Royals built it back to seven, 61-54, with 31.6 seconds left before back-to-back 3-pointers by Hunter Saylors and Hahler, which bookended a Wynford free throw, to make it 62-60 with eight seconds to go.

Powers was put on the line two seconds later, but could only sink the second of the two tosses, leaving Seneca East with a chance to tie.

“That was a difficult thing, trying to defend without bumping and sending them to the free throw line and stopping the clock,” Wynford coach Tim Ehresman said of Seneca East’s comeback. “Coming out in the overtime and running that tip play, and hitting that 3 was huge, and then getting the turnover right away sticking it to five and then seven was big. It forced to take some big shots and they hit some big shots, but we made free throws down the stretch.”

That chance fell to Caudill who spotted up just left of the top of the key and fired, but it was Carter who extended and got enough of the block to have the shot fall short and end Seneca East’s season.

“It was a bad matchup,” Ehresman said. “We hadn’t seen (that play) in any of the films that we had: sending shooters to the corner and taking probably their best shooter off the dribble. We didn’t have a matchup for it because Todd’s at the free throw line and he’s got to matchup. And he falls down and he has to recover but (Caudill) has to set his feet to shoot it and Todd just got a piece of it.”

One of the keys was a 20-7 turnover advantage Wynford held.

“That’s always been a problem for us. We don’t have a point guard. That ain’t no stranger,” Bedingfield said of the turnover margin.

Ehresman said taking care of the ball was huge, particularly when his team struggled from the line, going 23 of 42 from the stripe.

“That was difference for us tonight. We didn’t turn it over,” Ehresman said. “For the most part we took good shots. Todd Carter has four or five point-blank shots that didn’t go and Michael doesn’t make free throws and we still win, that’s impressive. We didn’t finish games last year because we didn’t make free throws and make shots at the end of games and (tonight) we did a nice job of that.”

Carter finished with a double-double of 14 points and 10 rebounds to go with two blocks. Powers added a team-high 19 points and Davis tallied 17.

Caudill had a game-high 24 points while Hahler had a double-double of his own with 20 points and 16 rebounds as well as five blocks. Nate Phillips poured in 10.

The game saw Wynford furiously fight back from a 25-17 deficit in the first half. The Royals (10-13) nearly caught that up by halftime. Up 29-23 with 16 seconds left in the half, Davis was fouled but made just the first free throw. Carter bagged the rebound, dished to an open Powers who buried the 3-pointer with six seconds to go. It made it 29-27 at half.

“I wasn’t too happy about (that) because it was a big momentum shift for them and I knew it was going to lift their spirits a little bit,” Bedingfield said.

The Royals tied it with their first points of the second half and the free throw exchange began the rest of the second half. By the close of the half, Wynford drained 13 of 22 foul shots in the half while the Tigers (13-10) were 9 of 13.

“I give a lot of credit to Wynford. Their kids played outstanding. Coach Ehresman is a great tournament coach and he did a nice job preparing his kids for the game,” Bedingfield said. “It was probably a pretty fun game to watch because it was back and forth. No one really wanted to take a dominant lead.”

Wynford moves to face New London on Friday at 8 p.m. in the sectional final.