ARCANUM – Mississinawa Valley unleashed a smothering man-to-man defense that silenced the Arcanum long range shooters, enabling the Blackhawks to open the game with a 14-5 run and propelling them to a 47-42 Cross County Conference victory Friday evening.
The Blackhawks played the Trojans tight and close when they were near the 3-point arc. If an Arcanum player broke free and headed for the basket 6-foot 4-inch Mississinawa post player Dalton Geesy was there waiting for them, along with some of his friends. The pressure would not allow the Trojans to work their offensive sets to get the shots they wanted.
“The old adage you can’t win a game in the first half but you can find ways to lose it,” Arcanum boys basketball coach Marcus Bixler said. “We were not physically or mentally tough enough in the first half. They beat us on the drive and beat us on the pass.
“They’re a long, a deceiving group of long guards that caused some havoc. We turned the ball over way too much tonight … which is very uncharacteristic of what we’ve done all year. We’ve been pretty good at taking care of the ball. Tonight was not the case. They got to us tonight, caused us some havoc and got out on our shooters. We kind of struggled from there.”
After the 14-5 first quarter, the teams played nearly even in the second period. The Trojans’ inability to make any 3-pointers in the half held down their offensive production. In fact to only trail 22-14 at the half was a tribute to their defensive effort as well. The Blackhawks’ lead could have been larger, but they converted only 5 of 11 opportunities at the free throw line.
“They played hard against us,” Mississinawa Valley coach Tim Barga said. “They played really hard. Our guys played hard. It was a physical game. Our foul shooting wasn’t real good to start the game. We hit when we needed to toward the end.”
The defenses would dominate the game overall. Mississinawa would shoot 17 of 43 from the floor for 39 percent and Arcanum was 13 of 38 for 34 percent. The scoring would increase in the second half.
Shortly into the third period Arcanum’s Austin Baker finally netted their first triple, cutting the Trojan deficit to 24-19. Field goals by Trent Perkins and Colyn Nelson stretched the Blackhawk lead to 28-19, but Geesy was charged with his fourth personal foul with 5:53 to go in the quarter. This brought about some game adjustments.
This allowed the Trojans to attack the basket more frequently. The strategy was to penetrate and drive to the goal or dish out to a 3-point shooter. They would make five more triples by the conclusion of the game.
The Blackhawks went to a three-guard attack, looking to dribble-drive to the basket. They were now looking to penetrate with the middle now open. They had success doing this.
“We give them two or three uncontested layups in the half court set,” Coach Bixler said. “We didn’t rotate. You can’t afford to do that. They’re good athletes. You don’t give them things. They’re going to attack the rim. That’s exactly what they did.”
Arcanum closed out the period’s scoring with a trey by freshman Wade Meeks to make the score 35-29 in favor of MV.
The Blackhawks managed to hold the Trojans off at a six-nine point distance through much of the fourth quarter, but when a Meeks triple cut the lead to five at 41-36 Arcanum sent Mississinawa to the line to earn the victory. There next two trips the Blackhawks were 1 of 3 to make the score 42-36.
Austin Baker then was fouled on a 3t-point attempt. The Arcanum forward converted all three charity shots to make it a one-possession game at 42-39 with 51.1 seconds remaining.
Coach Barga’s men were ready for the end-game pressure. Devan Rinderle, who led all scorers with 17 points, sank two foul shots with 48.2 seconds left, pushing their lead to 44-39. After an Arcanum missed field goal, Ethan Bowman added a free throw to increase the lead to 45-39.
Austin Baker, who scored nine of his 14 points in the fourth, drilled another triple to bring the Trojans back one more time to within three at 45-42 with 13.8 seconds remaining.
After attempting to steal the ball Arcanum was forced to foul Perkins with 7.7 seconds remaining. He calmly stepped to the line and sank both free throws to insure the Blackhawk victory.
“Devan, I thought he played a pretty nice game all around,” Coach Barga said. “Defensively, he had some nice blocks and good steals … hit key baskets to help us out a lot. Told Trent Perkins, if he got the ball, he’s our best foul shooter percentage-wise so we really wanted him to get involved if he could, and he made the two free throws to seal the game.”
Mississinawa Valley moved above the .500 mark on the season to 6-5, 3-2 in the CCC. The loss dropped Arcanum to 3-10 and 1-4 in conference play.
Arcanum won the junior varsity game 45-10.
Mississinawa Valley – 47
Bowman 11, Perkins 7, Nelson 5, Rinderle 17, Johns 2, Geesy 5.
Arcanum – 42
Kinney 5, Au Baker 14, Meeks 14, E Atchley 2, An Baker 7.
3-pointers: MV: 1 (Bowman); Arc: 6 (Au Baker 3, Meeks 2, An Baker).
Free throws: MV: 12-21; Arc: 10-15.