Huron Tigers fend off Western Reserve Roughriders for district title

WILLARD — After coming into the season with high expectations, the Huron Tigers got off to a rough start as their early 2-3 record made a lot of people in the area skeptical of the hype.

Huron head coach Bobby James and his team never stopped believing, and on Saturday night they showed why, beating Western Reserve 41-35 to clinch the Division III Willard District Final and move on the the Sweet 16.

“I’m so proud of my guys right now, it’s unbelievable,” James said. “We never put our heads down all season, despite the tough start and the ups and downs. They deserve this tonight, they earned it.”

It’s Huron’s first district crown in 14 years, as the last Tiger team to win it did so in 1999.

The players were well aware of the drought, and very happy to be the ones to end it.

“It’s been a long time since a Huron team has done this, there hasn’t been a ton of success around here for a while,” Huron senior Aaron Driftmeyer said. “We knew this could be the team to do it, and it feel’s great to know that we actually did.”

Driftmeyer was huge for the Tigers down the stretch, hitting the biggest basket of the game.

With five minutes to play in regulation and the Tigers holding a four-point lead, 34-30, Cody Thompson found Driftmeyer in the corner for a three.

Driftmeyer hesitated for a few seconds, then decided to take the shot.

It was a good decision as he swished the three that sent the Huron crowd into a frenzy and gave his team a 37-30 lead they didn’t relinquish.

“I had just missed a shot, so when I got the ball I kind of hesitated for a second.” Driftmeyer said of the big hoop. “I heard the crowd screaming to shoot, and I remembered coach telling me to be aggressive, so I just let it go. I’m really glad I did.”

It was a defensive battle from the tip, with neither team getting much offense going throughout the game.

After falling down 12-9 early on, Western Reserve went on a 9-0 run to take a 18-12 lead in the second quarter.

The run was fueled by senior Kevin Boose’s eight quick points, including two 3s.

Huron quickly got back into the game with a 6-0 run of their own, and trailed by just two at the half, 22-20.

The Tigers defense took over in the second half.

Huron didn’t allow a point in the third quarter until the 4:30 mark, and gave up just five total points in the quarter to take a 28-27 lead into the fourth.

“I thought our defense really stepped up in that second half and won the game for us.” James said. “Both these teams are excellent defensively, and it showed with the low score.”

In the fourth, Driftmeyer’s scored five quick points to help the Tigers hold on.

Despite pulling out the win, Huron nearly let Western Reserve back in the game down the stretch.

With just over a minute to go and a 39-32 lead, Huron fouled Western Reserve’s Nate Good while he was shooting a three.

Good hit all three free-throws to cut the deficit to just four, 39-35.

Huron then missed three consecutive free-throws of their own, giving the Roughriders three opportunities to get back in the game.

Fortunately for the Tigers, their defense came to the rescue and didn’t allow another point from Western Reserve.

After a big rebound and two free throws from Keegan Bollenbacher, Huron held on for the 41-35 victory.

Driftmeyer led Huron with nine points and eight rebounds while Western Reserve was led by Boose’s 11 points.

The Tigers now look forward to a tough road to the State Championship.

“We are going to take this in tonight and enjoy it, then focus on going even further,” James said. “I really think we can keep this going.

Huron 41, Western Reserve 35

Division III Willard

District Final

Huron — Arron Casey 1-5 7, Cody Thompson 2-3 7, Arron Driftmeyer 3-2 9, Jack Springer 1-2 4, Colin Mccready 1-0 3, Trae Graham 1-1 3, Keegan Bollenbacher 0-2 2, Ryan Vancauwenbergh 2-0 4. TOTALS 13-13-41.

Western Reserve — Nate Good 1-3 5, Jacob Muenz 3-2 9, Kevin Boose 4-1 11, Willie Roth 1-0 2, Dakota Hankins 2-0 4, Nate Ash 1-2 4. TOTALS 13-6-35.

3-point goals — H: Mccready; WR: Boose (2), Muenz

Score By Quarters

Huron (20-5) 12 8 8 13 — 41

W. Reserve (19-6) 11 11 5 8 — 35

Team Statistics

Field Goals — Huron 13 of 34 (38 percent), Western Reserve 13 of 39 (33 percent).

Free throws — Huron 13 of 25 (52 percent), Western Reserve 6 of 8 (75 percent).

Rebounds — H 29, WR 25.

Turnovers — H 5, WR 6.


Last Updated: 3/9/2013 11:37:19 PM EST

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