“Tough” may be used to describe a lot of different situations and experiences in high school basketball. For example, a real tough opening round match-up in Division IV boys basketball is set for Piqua Friday.
Tough to pick. Tough to play, for sure, for both teams, which know each other like league rivals in neighboring counties should.
For the fourth time in less than a year, No. 4 seed Troy Christian tangles with No. 8 seed Lehman on Friday night at 7 p.m.. Air time is 6:30 p.m. on ScoresBroadcast.com and WMVR, 105.5 TAM FM.
It’s also a tough, or difficult, test for both teams because they just played each other less than a week ago to end the regular season schedule. Then, Lehman pulled off a surprise, 52-41. In fact, Lehman spoiled the celebration party for Troy Christian, which, with a victory, would have clinched the outright Three Rivers Conference title over Milton-Union and Miami East.
As a result of the Eagles setback to the Cavaliers, the Troy squad shared the title with Milton and East at 11-3. “Tough to take” for the Eagles.
So once again, Lehman, 13-9 overall and 6-8 in the Three Rivers Conference, hopes to knock off Troy Christian, 17-5 and 11-3 in the TRC.
You say it’s very tough to beat a team twice in such a short span of time? How about two straight years in round one of the sectional tourney?
Last February, in a dead-heat, toss-up tilt, Lehman, a four seed, nipped Troy Christian, a five, 36-32. Is Friday night a repeat performance?
Meanwhile, Troy Christian is putting a lot of stock in its resounding 47-28 triumph over Lehman on January 7 in Troy. The Eagles defense limited Lehman to eight first half points. Lucas Day came off the bench to lead the winners with 11.
Fast forward to last Saturday, and you unwind a different story. Michael McFarland and A’Zon Steele tallied 13 and 12, respectively, and Lehman cruised to a 52-41 victory, outscoring the Eagles each period.
Lehman shot 29 percent in game one and its 6-7 post player, Justin Chapman, went scoreless. Lehman fired home 51 percent of its shots in game two as Chapman chipped in ten and snared 13 rebounds.
So while the odds may suggest Troy Christian is due to flip the script in this season’s rubber match, Eagles 13-year head coach Ray Zawadzki says that Friday “may not be a favorable match-up” for his club because of Lehman’s size in the post and on the wings.
Logic indicates the Eagles try to up-tempo this evening’s action and manufacture buckets in transition. Lehman has won games this season with more deliberate play and good shot election while averaging only 48 points. The Eagles generate nearly 60 points per outing.
Pat Carlisle, fourth year head coach at Lehman, whipped his squad into full stride at the end of January, taking five in a row by an average of 18 points. Carlisle’s team, which could easily have four more wins on the year, suffered four narrow losses by only a dozen points total.
Troy Christian lost 6-3 performer Noah King to injury at the season’s mid-point but has adjusted to play well without him. The 6-1 Day and 5-10 Parker Penrod average 24 points between them. Ben Major, a 6-2 junior, adds nearly nine.
Lehman, too, displays excellent balance. Chapman paces the Cavs at 14; 6-3 Donovan O’Leary scores nine; Steele and McFarland, eight each.
Zawadkzi knows his defense has to be tougher than nails, denying passes headed toward the paint for Lehman’s Chap.m.an, O’Leary, and 6-4 James Larger.
The site tonight is Piqua High’s Garbry Gym where the two clubs prized each possession carefully last February and combined to make only 68 points and 24 field goals.
Jump shots and, for sure, three-point shooting on the neutral floor can be tough. Although, neither offense relies on the trifecta. The Eagles are 31 per cent from long range; Lehman, 24.
Troy Christian wants a full-court game in the 50’s with points a plenty. On its offensive end, Lehman wants more patience, a half-court contest, and points less plentiful.
“Tough” to predict. Seems to be a contrast in styles.
Awaiting the winner is the Shelby County Athletic League’s Fort Loramie Redskins, who have played Versailles, New Bremen, Marion Local, Botkins twice and highly touted D-II Tiffin Columbian.
Once again, that’s tough!