KETTERING — Anna had thrived with a fast-paced offense all season and coach Nate Barhorst thought a run would come in the second half of a Division III regional final against Cincinnati Purcell Marian on Saturday.
It looked like a run may have been in store early in the fourth quarter after Griffin Doseck completed a three-point play and dunked 15 seconds later. Anna got a steal on the next possession, but a 3-pointer from the right corner that would have made it an 11-point game was an airball.
Then Purcell Marian did what it did throughout Saturday’s tournament game: grabbed a rebound and scored on the next possession.
After scoring 11 consecutive points in the second quarter, the Cavaliers never let Anna gain momentum and earned a trip to Columbus with a 67-56 victory at Fairmont’s Trent Arena.
“It’s so tough,” Barhorst said with a shaky voice after a long period of consoling players in the locker room after the game. “You’re holding yourself back, and you just let everything out in that locker room, because it’s over.”
Anna was trying for its first regional title and state berth since 2008. Purcell Marian’s length and quickness prevented that goal from being met.
Anna had 11 turnovers — two less than Purcell Marian. But the Cavaliers’ defense was plenty disruptive in other ways. They clogged the lanes and repeatedly denied Anna good shot opportunities and offensive rebounds.
“They’re intense on defense, and it rattled us a few times,” Barhorst said. “We couldn’t just rattle that storm enough to get us back within striking distance, and usually we’re a team that can get back within striking defense.
“… We were just waiting for that one run, and we could just never get to that point, and they sealed it from the free-throw line late.”
Purcell Marian owned a 12-4 advantage in second-chance points and outrebounded Anna 32-21. The Rockets had six offensive rebounds on Saturday compared to 19 in Wednesday’s semifinal win over Dayton Stivers.
“All those little things, we are usually in the reverse role on,” Barhorst said. “But I’m proud of these boys, that’s the bottom line. They gave 110 percent effort every step of the way, and they never looked back. It’s just unfortunate it had to happen this way.”
It was the second-lowest scoring output of the season for Anna, which previously had scored under 60 points in four games. The Rockets’ lowest scoring output came in a 51-47 loss to Shelby County Athletic League rival Jackson Center on Feb. 1.
Anna shot 20 for 46 (43.5 percent) from the field.
“Shots we normally hit just weren’t going down the way they normally do,” Barhorst said. “We get a couple more of those, it might be a different story, especially in that second quarter. …If we could have made a couple to stay with them here and there, it may have made a difference.”
The Rockets, which were tied for eighth in the final state Associated Press poll, finish 25-3 overall. Anna will lose two seniors to graduation in Griffin Doseck and Carter Elliott, both of which were normal starters.
“These guys made huge accomplishments this year,” Barhorst said. “They tied for most wins in a season in Anna history and are probably one of the top three or four teams to ever come through Anna. Our underclassmen understood what it took to step up and almost play like seniors, like our two (seniors) showed tonight. ”
Doseck, a forward, was named first team all-Southwest district in Div. III after averaging 15 points per game in regular season. He led the squad with 18 points and had four rebounds on Saturday.
Anna will return the bulk of its roster, including junior guards Bart Bixler and Riley Huelskamp. Bixler was named third team all-district and Huelskamp was honorable mention. Both were first team all-Shelby County Athletic League.
Anna went scoreless in the middle of the second quarter, during which time the Cavaliers scored 11 straight points to help build a 34-23 halftime lead.
“The second quarter really hurt us,” Barhorst said. “Long rebounds from them and breakouts, and we weren’t able to hit shots. It didn’t seem like we got the ball moving quite like we normally do. And that goes to them, to what Purcell Marian does to you. They’re long, they’re athletic, and they get into the passing lanes.”
Purcell Marian kept its lead between 11 and 14 points in the third quarter and led 43-30 heading into the fourth. Javonta Lyons and Bryan Warah each split a pair of free throws in the first minute of the fourth for Purcell Marian, then AJ Garrett made a basket with 6:51 left to boost the lead to 17 points.
Anna didn’t close the gap back down to 11 points until a bench player made a 3-pointer in the final seconds.
Purcell Marian made 22-of-29 free-throw attempts, including 8-of-10 in the final 2:30.
Bixler scored 15 points and Huelskamp finished with eight and a team-high six rebounds.
Warah led Purcell Marian with 20 points while Lyons scored 14 and Alex Dotson finished with nine.
The teams traded the lead early, but back-to-back baskets gave the Cavaliers a 14-10 lead with 3:15 left in the first. Anna took the lead by the end of the quarter thanks to a 7-0 run, which Bixler capped off with a three-point play with 55 seconds left.
Warah hit a basket at the first-quarter buzzer to bring Purcell Marian within 17-16, then Lyons opened the second quarter with a three-point play to give the Cavaliers a 19-17 lead.
Bixler made a basket to pull Anna within 23-21 with 5:19 left in the second, but the Rockets didn’t score again for nearly five minutes.
Purcell Marian’s offense didn’t have similar struggles. Jared Baldock capped off the big run with a 3-pointer from the right corner with 1:32 left to increase the advantage to 34-21. Bixler added a basket before halftime cut the gap to 11.
Purcell Marian (24-4) advances to face Canal Winchester Harvest Prep in a state semifinal on Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
“You’ve got to have talent and you’ve got to have a little luck and the ball to bounce your way, and tonight it just didn’t (for us),” Barhorst said.
Reach Bryant Billing at 937-538-4818, or follow @SidneyOHSports on Twitter and @BryantBillingSDN on Facebook.