WEST ALEXANDRIA – Both Twin Valley South and Arcanum entered their conference matchup with three-game winning streaks. And South has been formidable on its home court this winter, which made the Trojans’ task doubly hard. Something had to give on Friday night.
It was a close fought game for three quarters, but the Trojans were able to manage a decisive fourth quarter push to keep their streak alive. A defensive change and on offense shooting well enough from the foul line combined to give Arcanum its fourth win a row, 66-52.
Twin Valley South forward Willie Bowman had his motor running in the first half. He can score from either the inside or the outside, and Arcanum had to change up defenses to get pressure on him. Although he finished the night with 18 points, 14 of those were scored in the first half and only 4 in the second half.
Arcanum used both zone and man-to-man defenses during the game. And returning to a stingy man-to-man defense in the fourth quarter and closing out on Bowman kept the Panthers from gaining momentum and stifled any hopes for a comeback.
Plus, Bowman did not help his cause as he picked up his fourth foul early in the second half and then in the fourth quarter he committed a charging foul around the three-minute mark and was done for the night. South’s Jacob Wells also fouled out just after that so the Panthers were down two starters when they were trying to come from behind.
“We lost Bowman several times early in the game on man-to-man defense,” Arcanum boys basketball coach Marcus Bixler said. “We used a couple of different defenses in the second and third quarters to get better pressure. In the fourth quarter we knew that we didn’t want Bowman to start hitting 3s again. So we went back to man to man with the idea of putting more pressure on him. Evan Atchley did a good job on defense against him.”
Arcanum scored 13 of its 22 fourth quarter points from the foul line. Although the Trojans’ shooting percentage was not the best (13-of-24), they hit enough to seal the win.
Carter Grey scored 8 of his 18 points from the foul line in the last quarter. Although he was the high scorer for the Trojans, he had work hard for every point. South assigned Wells to shadow him closely for much of the game.
Atchley was also in double figures with 17 points – 12 of those points came from behind the arc.
“It has been easier now that we can put them back in the positions that they belong here in the second half of the season,” Bixler said of Atchley and Gray. “Both can score; they are unselfish with the ball. They get everyone else involved. We got a lot of points in the paint tonight and hit the boards hard. That inside game opened us up for some wide-open 3s. And Grant Delk did a good job of defending Travis Lovely. He is hard to guard, but Delk did a good job defending him. He also rebounded extremely well in the second half.
“It’s a big win – going on the road and getting a conference win,” Coach Bixler said. “It also has repercussions for the state tournament. There are several teams with the same amount of wins as us. This will be part of the consideration this Sunday.”
Arcanum will return to action on Saturday at Preble Shawnee.
“They are unbelievably quick,” Bixler said. “They anticipate things defensively, and that causes havoc with turnovers. They will try to beat us up and down the floor. Our biggest challenge will be taking care of the ball. We have to execute fundamentals well. The Bates kid is the real deal. He will be a tough matchup for our defense. Our defense will need to keep their guards in front and watch the 3.”