WAVERLY – It just wasn’t their night.
West Union couldn’t find the bottom of the net after the first quarter and ended up dropping their Southeast Division III Sectional final at Waverly, 69-54 to Southeastern.
After taking a 19-17 lead into the second quarter with a torrid pace in the first frame, the Dragons went cold, ending up shooting 19-for-65 on the evening in the loss.
“We just missed some easy shots there that we normally make. You’re playing in a different atmosphere, playing a little tighter,” Dragons coach Greg Himes said. “Sometimes that just happens and these kids still gave everything they had tonight.”
They’d sustain a drought in the second quarter as the Panthers were unable to separate with the two going into the half tied at 29-all.
Then the cold shooting caught up to the Dragons. A third quarter in which they scored just six points put them in an eight point deficit as the two entered the final frame with Southeastern leading, 43-35.
Garrett Vogler looked to maybe provide a spark with a 3-pointer followed by a Bowan Tomlin layup to get the Dragons within 45-40, but two straight turnovers followed by Panthers baskets stalled any momentum the Dragons built up as they answered with buckets from Rex Hartman, who ended up with a game-high 26 points on the evening.
“They just caught momentum at times and sustained our runs and we didn’t sustain theirs tonight. One of those games where your shots don’t fall and defense doesn’t pick up at times it just doesn’t happen,” Himes said.
Hartman’s baskets ignited an 8-0 run as Southeastern built a 53-40 advantage.
The Dragons would get no closer than nine the rest of the way as they tried to play the foul game to catch up, but Southeastern knocked down 17-of-21 free throw attempts in the fourth to close out the contest with the 15-point victory.
The Dragons season comes to a close with a 16-5 record, a season in which they ended a 29-year drought in the Southern Hills Athletic Conference with a Division I title.
“I’m so proud of our seniors and what they were able to accomplish. When I took the job over the summer I really wanted us to win the Holiday Tournament and win a League title,” Himes said. “We were able to do that this year and these guys have raised the bar here as far as expectations.”
The Dragons lose five seniors in Elijah McCarty, Vogler, Eli Fuller, Mason Fannin and Jared Fenton.
Zane Kingsolver helped keep the Dragons in it for a while as he ended with 16 points and 20 rebounds. His effort was followed by McCarty with 11 points, Ryan Rothwell added nine, while Garrett Vogler and Eli Fuller each tossed in seven.
After Hartman’s 26 for the Panthers, Reece Wheeler added 15 points and nine rebounds. Southeastern moves in to the district semifinals at Ohio University, Saturday, March 3. The Panthers will face the winner of Eastern Pike and Wellston in a game that takes place Friday.
SOUTHEASTERN (69) – Hartman 26, Wheeler 15, Ruby 9, Gillum 6, Dresbach 6, Stauffer 5, Minney 2
WEST UNION (54) – Kingsolver 16, McCarty 11, Rothwell 9, Vogler 7, Fuller 7, Tomlin 2, Campbell 2
Free Throws: Southeastern 21/27, West Union 11/11
3-Pointers Made: Southeastern 4 (Hartman 3), West Union 5 (Rothwell 2)
Rebounds: Southeastern 29 (Wheeler 9), West Union 34 (Kingsolver 20)
Turnovers: Southeastern 9, West Union 12
Records: Southeastern 11-13, West Union 16-5