ANSONIA – Tuesday night’s renewal of the long-time matchup between Arcanum and Ansonia gave the fans who came out the three things they love about Darke County basketball: intensity, determination and all-out hustle.
The Tigers were victorious 52-44 in what some would call a “good ole good one.”
Both teams came into the game averaging less than 45 points per game of offense, Ansonia 40.4 and Arcanum 44.8. Defensively, the opposition had fared better, scoring 56.7 versus the Tigers and 54 points against the Trojans.
“Our goal is to keep people under 50,” Ansonia boys basketball coach Chad Cramer said. “If we keep it under 50 we have a chance. Don’t think we did that in the first six games. In the last couple we did. We’re not going to score 70 points a night, but hopefully we can get 50.”
The first half would set the tone for the game. Ansonia using its match-up zone defensively against Arcanum’s motion offense that was looking to spread apart the zone and find driving lanes that would lead to easy opportunities in the paint or kick the ball back out for 3-point shots.
When the Tigers had the ball they were running their offensive sets against the Trojans’ man-to-man defense that was trying to pressure the ball and create turnovers. This would allow Arcanum to play at the faster tempo that the Trojans thrive on.
“We have to be able to get the ball up and down the floor,” Arcanum coach Marcus Bixler said. “We have guards who can handle the ball and make some plays. We tried to spread them out and do that. Their offense was patient, making us work for 15-20 seconds at a time. Defensively, they did a good job of keeping us out by half court.”
After 16 minutes of basketball the Tigers enjoyed a 21-17 lead.
Four minutes into the third quarter with the score 27-21 in favor of Ansonia the game would change.
All it takes in some games is for one man with a hot hand to swing the game to his team’s side. There’s nothing a defense can do. He becomes unstoppable. That man was the Tigers’ Brayden Swabb.
The next nine Ansonia points came on three 3-pointers by Swabb, who shot 4 of 4 overall for the game. This stretched the Tiger lead to 36-23.
By period’s end Ansonia would have a 38-26 advantage.
“He’s a great shooter,” Coach Cramer said of Swabb. “It’s a shame no one has seen it this year. That’s what he does. He fills it up in practice. He got it going tonight. It was good. He needs the confidence.”
The Trojans were determined to cut into the Ansonia lead opening the fourth quarter. They increased their defensive pressure by now guarding full court, trying to force turnovers and speed up the pace of the game.
“They had a couple of possessions where we hurried them a bit, but he was fortunate they had timeouts left and were able to take those,” Coach Bixler said. “The game for us we really wanted to go up-tempo, and we didn’t. We talked about it in the locker room; we have to be able to execute in any style game because there’s going to be nights where tempo is dictated by something else.”
“I told our JV guys In the locker room that it started with them yesterday,” Coach Cramer said. “They ran the Arcanum offense to a T, gave our varsity guys a lot of confidence. They knew what to do on some of these transitions. Credit to those guys for getting us ready.”
The score hovered around a 10-point game until the 4:29 mark when the Trojans converted 5 of 7 free throws in one trip down the floor to pull within five, 42-37.
A foul shot by Devyn Sink and a lane jumper by Dane Wentworth pushed the Tigers lead back to 45-37 before Wade Meeks drilled a trey, cutting the deficit back to five, 45-40, with 2:11 to play.
After each team used a timeout Wentworth again scored to push the Ansonia lead to 47-40. The Tigers would make 5 of 8 free throws in the final 1:15 to seal the victory.
Ansonia shot the ball very well, going 18 of 33 with 6 of 10 from behind the arc. Arcanum was 15 of 42 overall and 4 of 16 from long distance. The Tigers committed nine turnovers to the Trojans’ 13. Arcanum outrebounded Ansonia 30-22.
The victory brings Ansonia to 2-6 overall and 2-2 in the Cross County Conference while Arcanum falls to 2-5 overall and 1-3 in the CCC.
Arcanum won the junior varsity game 44-22.
Kinney 6, Burrell 7, Au Brown 10, Meeks 6, Atchley 4, Riffell 2, An Baker 9.
Sink 6, Swabb 11, Sanders 4, Muir 11, Alexander 8, Wentworth 10, Clark 2.
3ptrs: Arc: 4 (Kinney, Burrell, Au Brown, Meeks); Ans: 6 (Swabb 3, Alexander 2, Sink)