Calvert, New?Riegel set up rematch

FOSTORIA – Two weeks later, Calvert and New Riegel will go at it once more.

The Midland Athletic League rivals went to overtime Feb. 14, with the Senecas prevailing 51-48.

There will be a little more on the line Friday.

Calvert and New Riegel each advanced to a Division IV sectional final with wins here Wednesday night. The Blue Jackets rallied from a 16-point first half deficit to stun Arcadia, 61-53, while Calvert – behind 28 points and 11 rebounds from Michael Bennett – took a big lead on Vanlue, then had to hold off a furious Wildcat comeback to win, 50-49.

Calvert coach Ted Willman said it should be an exciting sectional final.

“It’ll be a good game to the end,” he said. “It’s always been.”

It could be argued that Calvert’s game with Vanlue wasn’t that exciting – at least to the spectators – until the end.

Bennett dominated the game from the opening tip. He had 12 points in the first quarter as the Senecas opened a 15-8 lead, and had 18 by the break, when Calvert was up 26-15.

Bennett had five of his rebounds in the first half, some of which were offensive and led to stickbacks.

“We weren’t settling, we tried to get the best shot in the paint,” Bennett said. “We were looking for the best shot and (were) not looking for that shot that’s forced up and not gonna help us.”

To that point, Calvert (9-13) won despite not making a 3-pointer and attempting only five. For most of the first three quarters, the paint was open, and Calvert took advantage.

“Michael Bennett… he was going to the boards tonight,” said Vanlue coach Dean Birchmeier said. “We didn’t do a good job of keeping him off the boards. They would miss a few bunnies … but then my guys would relax too much. I don’t know what they were thinking, ‘Well, they’re going to make this,’ or what, (they would) look up at the rim instead of boxing him off.”

Calvert led 37-27 after three quarters, and took a 43-30 after an Austin Perry bucket with 5:30 left.

But the Wildcats – who had only three players score – came back.

Austin Smith and Nick Hagerty led the Wildcats (7-16) on an 11-1 run that got them within 44-41 with 2:23 left.

Calvert didn’t help itself at the free throw line, making just 10 of 22. But it made just enough (4 of 6 in the final minute) to hold on.

Smith made a left corner 3 in the final seconds to get Value within 50-49, but the Wildcats didn’t have a timeout and time expired.

“We just came up short,” Birchmeier said.

Willman said the Senecas need to do a better job of finishing.

“We were kind of sloppy, and we started playing a little bit tight,” he said. “At this point in time, you don’t like to have a game like this, but if you’re gonna have it, you’d like to have a game like this and win.”

Smith (22 points) and Hagerty (23) combined for all but four of the Wildcats’ points. The Senecas got eight points and eight rebounds from Austin Perry.

For New Riegel, the turning point of its game came after Josh Ireland’s jumper gave the Redskins a 27-11 advantage with 2:21 left in the first half.

Blue Jackets coach Dave Losey called time.

“We set up a play, we executed a play,” Losey said of the timeout’s aftermath. “We actually saw the ball go through the rim, and from there, we fed off that.”

Austin Mathias’ jumper made it 27-13, and began a 9-2 run that brought the Blue Jackets within nine at the break.

The Blue Jackets went on to dominate the next two quarters. They outscored the Redskins 40-24 in the second half, behind a brilliant 16 minutes from Tim Ink.

Ink finished with a team-high 16 points – 14 of which came after the half.

“Tim was outstanding,” Losey said. “He did take control, and he took control by going to the rim more than anything.”

The Blue Jackets also dominated up front. Jake Dryfuse and Michael Kirian each posted double-doubles, with Dryfuse collecting 14 rebounds to go with 10 points, and Kirian – who got to the basket for a pair of and-1s late in the second quarter – registering 15 points and 12 boards.

Arcadia coach Cara Noel said the Redskins were not as aggressive after the break.

“The second half, we stopped playing team basketball at the offensive end,” she said. “We stopped getting those good aggressive drives to the hoop.”

Ireland led all scorers with 17 points. The Redskins ended the season at 5-18. New Riegel improved to 8-15.