Stockaders hand Senecas first conference loss

Old Fort stays unbeaten in SBC?River Division

PHOTO BY JONATHON BIRD Calvert’s Nick Seifert and Old Fort’s Zach Dewese battel for position under the hoop during the first half Saturday in Tiffin.

It’s not that Eric Hoover is a merciless perfectionist. But the last three minutes of Old Fort’s 70-59 win over Calvert Saturday night might just nag a little for some time.

The more important thing is the Stockaders had things going their way in emphatic form most of the night in claiming, at least for the moment, sole possession of the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division lead. In a battle of league unbeatens, Old Fort now stands at 6-0 in SBC play, one game ahead of both Calvert and Sandusky St. Mary.

The significance/insignificance of that was not lost on Hoover.

“I’m pretty happy with where we are; I can’t complain,” Hoover said after his club improved to 8-2 overall. “It’s a midseason game, so you can debate the importance of it. But somebody’s got to take the lead and be in the driver’s seat, so you’d rather be that than not and to get another win on the road — Calvert’s a tough place to play.

“We’ve done a good job of that,” he said. “Five of these six (conference) wins have been on the road.”

The Stockaders looked very much at home most of this night. A variety of presses had the Senecas (6-4 overall) off their game. More than that, Old Fort was extremely efficient at the offensive end.

Calvert’s Nic Somodi scored off the opening tap, but Carson Steyer followed with seven straight points in a 54-second span and the Stockaders were on top for good at that point.

The Senecas pulled within 10-8 midway through the quarter and later trailed 15-11 after a Somodi 3-pointer. But Zach Dewese hit from long range for Old Fort and then action over the quarter’s final second of clock time was a sort of synopsis of the night.

Old Fort’s Jordan Smith was fouled and went to the line to shoot two with 1.2 seconds showing. He made one, missed the second, but Mason Salas’ putback produced a 21-11 Stockader lead at the first stop.

Old Fort made 7 of 12 shots in the quarter and that turned out to be its worst effort of the night. For the game, the Stockaders hit 25 of 40, including 6 of 10 from 3-point range. They sizzled at 12 of 16 for the second half.

“We shoot a pretty good percentage normally,” Hoover said. “We get a lot of inside looks, a lot of layups in transition. I felt like we had an inside advantage and we really looked to pound it inside in different ways. I think we did a pretty good job of that for, well, 29 minutes.”

At the same time, Calvert struggled, particularly in the first half, when the Senecas managed just 8 of 29 overall and 2 for 14 from 3-point range.

“We knew coming in their MO is to press to create turnovers and make you take quick shots,” Calvert coach Jon Otterbacher said. “We discussed handling the pressure and breaking it and then running a set once we get in the halfcourt.

“But in the first half especially, I believe we settled for way too many 3s,” he said. “We had wide open driving lanes and didn’t take them. That’s a maturity thing where we have to learn to attack the rim and put them on their heels instead of relying on the 3.”

Old Fort’s balanced attack pushed the margin to 36-20 by halftime and 55-30 after three quarters.

Carson Steyer led the winners with 18 points while AJ Steyer might have served as the overall catalyst with 14 points, nine rebounds and eight assists. Dewese added 12 points, Garrett Havens contributed nine and Smith checked in with eight.

“I never know who’s going to be our leading scorer any night,” Hoover said. “We have a lot of guys who can do that. We usually share the ball pretty well and have lots of different ways to attack. It makes it tough for them to focus on anybody, which is a good thing for us.”

The game ceased to be a runaway late because Calvert put together a 14-3 finish over the final 3:12. Josh Recker (14 points, five rebounds) scored five in the surge and Nic Somodi, who led Calvert with 17 points, added four. The Senecas also got 12 points and nine rebounds from sophomore Nick Seifert.

“We played well those final minutes and did some of the things we had hoped to do from the start,” Otterbacher said. “They were definitely the better team tonight.

“But one game doesn’t define a season,” he said. “Less than 5 percent of our season was tonight. There are plenty of league games left in the season. We just need to keep building, keep grinding to get to where we need to be.”