New Riegel rallies by Senecas
NEW RIEGEL — David Losey doesn’t particularly care to look back at the early part of the season, when his New Riegel Blue Jackets dropped eight of their first nine games, four of them by five points or fewer.
But, oh, to have had things going then the way they are going now.
The Blue Jackets trailed by as many as 13 points in the first half, but rallied with 3-pointers in the second and edged Calvert 53-50 to close the regular season here Friday night.
“It doesn’t really matter what happened two months ago,” Losey said after his team improved to 9-13 overall and 7-9 in the Sandusky Bay Conference River Division. “We’ve got it going in the right direction right now. The kids gave a great effort to pull it out tonight.”
Things weren’t going their way early.
Garrett Spaun nailed a couple 3-pointers and scored 12 first-half points, nine in the first period, and Nick Seifert added seven in helping Calvert (16-6, 10-6) open a 25-12 lead with 3:06 still to play in the second period.
The Senecas settled for a 25-16 edge at the break but fell victim to a long-range attack from the Blue Jackets in the second half.
New Riegel had gone 0 for 5 beyond the arc in the first half but Nick Reinhart canned a couple 3-pointers in the first minute to jump-start the rally. Jacob Theis and Hayden Hohman added 3s of their own later in the period as the Blue Jackets trimmed the margin to 36-31 for the start of the fourth period.
Then, after Seifert scored for Calvert, Reinhart and Brandon Gillig hit 3-pointers to cut the lead to 38-37 with 6:56 to play and the battle was on.
“They were on fire Tuesday at Fostoria (74-61 New Riegel upset win) and when we over-help instead of containing dribble penetration, and good shooters catch in rhythm and shoot, they’re going to go in,” Calvert coach Jon Otterbacher said. “We left guys wide open and what they did against Fostoria Tuesday is what they did to us tonight.”
The game was tied four times, the last occasion at 45-45 on Reinhart’s two foul shots with 3:13 to go.
Seifert, who had eight points and four rebounds in the fourth quarter, scored on a putback for a 47-45 edge with 2:47 left. Then came a turning event.
Calvert’s Mitch Nielsen drove for a layup off a steal, but Seifert touched the rim on a follow-up and was called for basket interference. So instead of a 4-point lead with 2:22 left, the score remained 47-45.
A minute later, Gillig hit a 3-pointer to put New Riegel on top for good.
“It was a huge call — it had no bearing on the play,” Otterbacher said. “It is the right call, I agree, but it had no bearing on the play at all. The ball was already going down through the cylinder and almost out of the net. But they called it and we’ve got to live with it.”
“That was huge,” Losey said. “I didn’t see it, to be honest. I just thought he’d already made the layup and I had already turned and looked to see what we were going to do next down the floor.”
Christopher Acree made three free throws and Theis added a couple against a Jack Shultz layup for Calvert for a 53-49 New Riegel lead with eight seconds left.
Seifert made a foul shot and first he and then Blake Ronski missed foul shots in the hope of Calvert getting a 3-point try to fall, but the Senecas couldn’t pull it off.
Reinhart had 19 points, Theis had 13 points and seven rebounds and Gillig finished with 12 points for the Blue Jackets. Seifert had 19 points and nine rebounds for the Senecas. Spaun, limited to two free throws in the second half, added 14 points and Nolan Beeker scored nine.
“We are finishing some of the games we weren’t finishing before,” Losey said. “I thought the job Brandon Gillig and Hayden Hohman did defensively on Spaun in the second half was what set the tone for us. They were uncomfortable in the second half after being very comfortable in the first half.
“Garrett’s a really nice player and he really killed us in the first half,” he said. “I didn’t know if we could do anything to take away Seifert, so we did what we could to take away Spaun.”
Both teams play Division IV district tournament openers at Columbian. New Riegel faces Hardin Northern Tuesday at 7 p.m. Calvert takes on Vanlue at 8 p.m. Wednesday.
“We’ll work on it and get smarter and get better and be tougher than we were tonight,” Otterbacher said. “We’ll be ready to go.”