By John Bombatch
TROY — Yellow Springs put the defensive clamps on Springfield Catholic Central’s outside shooters in the second half of Wednesday night’s Division IV sectional basketball tournament game at Troy High School. The result was a 61-43 win over the Irish, setting up a sectional final against the defending D-IV state champs, New Madison Tri-Village.
“A couple of their guys were making some shots in the first half, so you have to credit those guys too,” explained Yellow Springs coach Steve Grasso. “I don’t think we played that poorly in the first half, except for the fact that we gave them some uncontested threes, which it turned out they had some guys who could shoot a little bit.
“We really clamped down on those shooters in the second half, and we played some pretty good defense after that.”
Catholic Central trailed by three points, 29-26, at the half, but could muster just 17 points the rest of the way. While Zack Young, Thomas Kavanaugh and Dominic Dewitt combined for five 3-pointers in the first half, the Irish managed just one trey by Dewitt in the second.
Meanwhile, the Bulldogs’ defensive pressure opened up their offensive scoring at the same time.
Kaner Butler, who had been limited to four points in the first half, finished with a game-high 17 points. Isaiah Taylor became a dominant force both inside and outside to finish with 15 points, Joe Plumer tossed in nine points, while Devon Perry, Ethan Dewine and Tony Marinelli each scored six.
“We base our success off of defense. Everything we do is defensive oriented. When we make stops, it’s easier for us to get things going at the other end,” Grasso said. “Isaiah Taylor is a guy who does it all for us. Our point guard, Ethan (Dewine) went down with a knee injury — we hope to have him back on Friday — but then Isaiah becomes the guy who takes care of the ball for us. People don’t realize this but, he was a point guard growing up, and then he got really big.”
Young led Catholic Central with 13 points, but was held to two points in the second half. Dewitt finished with 12.
The Bulldogs now have the task of facing Tri-Village.
“We’ll be here (at Troy High) at 7 o’clock on Friday, against the defending state champions,” Grasso said. “We’re excited to have the opportunity.”
TRI-VILLAGE 69, XENIA CHRISTIAN 39: In the day’s earlier game, top-seeded New Madison Tri-Village never trailed.
Junior guard Gavin Richards did the damage in the first half, scoring 17 points for the Patriots. Then 6-foot-6 junior forward Trace Couch mopped up rebounds and second-chance opportunities in the second half to score 18 points in the second half. Richards finished with 22 points and Couch tossed in a game-high 26.
“They’re an experienced team. We’re hoping that will be where we’ll be once we gain a little bit of experience,” Xenia Christian coach Brad Newsome said.
Gabe Woodard and Cameron Moore were the only two seniors to play their final game for Xenia Christian (3-20). “The seniors helped to build the foundation for this program. We’ll build from there next season,” Newsome said.
Ashton Burke led the Ambassadors with 10 points, Woodard finished with nine and Austin Frueh scored eight in Tuesday’s loss.
John Bombatch can be reached at (937) 372-4444, Ext. 2123.