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Huron hangs on to eliminate Upper Sandusky

SHELBY — Drew Wennes led Huron with 19 points, but a layup in the fourth quarter stood out the most.

The layup came after Upper Sandusky’s Jevon Dible hit back-to-back 3-pointers to slice an eight-point deficit to two.

“I thought that was a huge score,” Huron coach Bobby James said. “I felt that if we did not score on that possession, we might have been in big trouble.”

The eighth-seeded Tigers never relinquished the lead and took out top-seeded Upper Sandusky 61-55 in a Division III sectional final at Shelby High School on Friday.

Huron improves to 10-12 overall and will face sixth-seeded Margaretta (12-12) Thursday at 8 p.m. in a district semifinal at Norwalk High School.

“I think the key was our kids just played loose and we played relaxed,” James said. “We moved the basketball and we always play hard, but a lot of games, we get real tight. Tonight, we just played and had fun.”

Dible, who led the Rams (19-4) with 24 points, was good from beyond half court as the third quarter ended. He then added a triple from the left corner just 10 seconds into the fourth quarter, taking a 44-36 Huron lead down to 44-42.

Wennes responded on the other end, but then went to the bench with his fourth foul. Trevor Clifford made two free throws for Upper Sandusky on the foul, but a jumper from Chris Davis pushed the Tigers’ lead back to 48-44 with 3:50 left.

“Huron made shots and we did not make shots,” Upper Sandusky coach Jeff Winslow said. “We turned the ball over too much. We knew both teams would make plays, but we had too many turnovers and missed opportunities.”

A trey from Brett Montgomery drew the Rams within a point, but seemingly every time Upper Sandusky made a move, Huron was there to respond. This time, it was Casey Scroggins hitting his fourth of four 3-pointers.

Michael Hurst, who Winslow noted the Rams wanted to shut down, also went to the bench with four fouls and two foul makes from Mason Vent cut the Huron lead back to 51-49. Casey Vancauwerbergh and Dible exchanged scores before Hurst drove in for a layup.

“Scroggins made some big 3s and Wennes had a hell of a night,” Winslow said. “Huron earned it. We wanted someone other than Hurst to beat us and they did. They hit some big shots and you kind of bank on the others not doing that.”

The Rams committed their 20th and final turnover and were forced to foul Vancauwerbergh, who made both free throws. Vent hit a 3 to slice the lead to 57-54, but Wennes scored and the Tigers added two free throws in the final 30 seconds to seal the win.

“I think Upper Sandusky got tight at the end,” James said. “They missed some shots and we got key stops. We attacked their press and got layups. I think that that was key — we attacked the rim instead of pulling it out. We made them pay for pressing us.”

The Rams led by two points twice in the first quarter, but that was the biggest lead Upper Sandusky had all night — something James thought was particularly helpful against a team that is accustomed to leading throughout the season.

“I felt playing ahead most of the night made them uncomfortable,” James said. “We had a great start and I said before the game that we needed a big start in the first and third quarters. Both times we had that and we played well down the stretch.”

Mathew Hurst hit a triple to give Huron a 15-10 lead after eight minutes. The Tigers used a 10-3 run over the final 5:44 of the quarter for the cushion.

“I knew it was going to be a good game,” Winslow said. “Huron is a good team and better than their record. They had played better in the second half of the season. We did not make enough plays.”

The lead reached eight points when Wennes scored off an offensive rebound in the second quarter. Upper Sandusky charged back and had an 8-2 run for a 28-27 lead after Harrison Sheaffer made two free throws. The Tigers responded as scores from Davis and Jimmy Harkelroad gave Huron a 31-28 lead at halftime.

The Tigers pushed forward in the third quarter. Vancauwerbergh hit a jumper to open the frame and added two free throws later. Then, after an empty possession for the Rams, Scroggins hit a triple for a 38-30 lead. Later, Joey Brown scored and Vancauwerbergh split two free throws. Dible grabbed the rebound and his heave went in, getting the Rams within 44-39 after three quarters.

“It is surprising we turned it over 20 times,” Winslow said. “You cannot turn the ball over against good teams. You just cannot do it.”

Scroggins tallied 12 points while Vancauwerbergh added 11 points and six rebounds. Wennes snatched eight rebounds for Huron.

“Their shooting concerned us and their ability to knock down the 3-ball was a focus,” James said. “We knew Upper Sandusky liked to get momentum. Once they get a charge, they would hit a 3. We were able to hold their momentum off for a while.”

Vent added 17 points and 12 rebounds for Upper Sandusky, who won the Northern 10 Athletic Conference this season.

“What a crazy year,” Winslow said. “We lose a starter that moved to Colorado and we had injuries to two other starters. It seemed like one thing after another. I am not making excuses, but I brought it up because the kids showed tremendous effort. A lot of teams would have just quit.”

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