Senecas pass test at Gibsonburg
Defense keys road conference victory that keeps Calvert tied for first in the SBC River Division
GIBSONBURG — According to assistant Calvert coach Jay Meyer, defense travels.
It’s the mantra Calvert has been playing behind this season and it was evident again Friday at Gibsonburg — a place where the Golden Bears had only lost once this season.
Gibsonburg got off to a decent start and led Calvert 13-12 after one quarter and was right with the Senecas down just 28-25 at the half.
Addison Weaver, who was injured the first time the two teams played, had 12 points in the first half.
He finished with 15.
The Senecas clamped down defensively and held the Golden Bears to just 16 second-half points in a 51-41 Sandusky Bay Conference River Division matchup.
“We love to get up and down the court and we love to get on the offensive end, but we take pride in playing defense and playing defense for a long time,” Calvert coach Jon Otterbacher said. “We did a good job of understanding personnel after Addison Weaver came out strong. He didn’t play against us the first time, so it was kind of one of those trap games where they got their stud back and he certainly played the like the man tonight.
“We tried to take the ball out of his hands and understand who their scorers were and not able to score and we did a pretty good job in the second quarter on getting those matchups we liked and taking them out of their flow.”
The Senecas (11-5, 9-1 SBC), who started a bit slow in adjusting to Gibsonburg’s pressure defense with some turnovers, got three players in double figures and Nic Somodi was close with eight points. Hunter Hendrix ended with 15 points, while Nick Seifert and Josh Recker both added 14. Seifert played a big role on the boards with a game-high 12, while Recker pulled down seven.
“We have a special team right now. Nobody cares who scores, we’ve probably had around four or five guys lead us in scoring in a game this year,” Otterbacher said. “That’s a good part of an all-around good team knowing who’s open and what to do with the ball when you get it.
“Hunter’s led us in scoring a couple times when he starts hitting 3s and then that just opens up the rest of his game. Recker does a bit of everything for us and he was able to finish tonight on the backside. Getting him back and healthy is big for us.”
Gibsonburg (5-9, 4-6) scored the first four points of the game, but Calvert responded with a 6-0 run with three points from Recker and a Hendrix triple. Somodi hit a 3 later in the first quarter to give the Senecas a 12-8 advantage, but Theo Hernandez converted a three-point play and Jake Foster hit a tough layup to give Gibsonburg a 13-12 lead after one quarter.
The teams went back and forth in the second period with Weaver coming alive with eight points in the quarter.
“Tonight has kind of been the story of our season. We play a lot of good halves, but when things start to go south, we step out of the game plan,” Gibsonburg coach Brent Liskai said. “To Calvert’s credit, they had a good game plan. They were solid. They made the extra pass and they beat us to every loose ball.
“Our pressure hurt them a little bit early, but then we couldn’t get our guys to get into the pressure … even on makes we couldn’t get them into it and that’s on me. Most of the credit goes to Calvert. They executed and we didn’t.”
Gibsonburg got to within 36-32 after a Hernandez layup with 1:39 left in the third quarter, but Somodi made a layup and Recker split a pair of free throws to the end the quarter with a 39-32 lead and some momentum heading to the fourth.
The Senecas put the game away with a 9-0 run in the middle of the fourth to get their biggest lead at 51-35 with 1:31 to play.
“Defensive effort can’t be hinged on how you shoot the ball and that was the difference in the two teams,” Liskai said. “I thought they had a team that played defense and we put too much value in making shots over the constants, which are rebounding and playing defense. It hurt us tonight and that’s why Calvert has the record they do and we are sitting with the record we have now.”
Tyler Pelish had 11 points for the Golden Bears, while Hernandez finished with nine.
Every game is important at this point of the season, but with road trips to Sandusky St. Mary, New Riegel and Old Fort left this season, Friday’s win was a big one for the Senecas.
“We knew coming into the season we needed to get those home wins in the league and now we have at St. Mary’s, at New Riegel and at Old Fort and then we finish with Danbury at home, but the road warriors are what we’ll have to be over the next two and a half weeks,” Otterbacher said. “We always won’t be able to outscore people, so we have to out-hustle and out-work them on the defensive end and tonight, I thought we did and I think we wore them down a little bit on a bigger floor.”