PIQUA – It was a rough night for Mississinawa Valley in the opening round of the Ohio High School Athletic Association Division IV Piqua sectional tournament on Friday, falling 47-21 to Jackson Center.
It was a rematch of the opening round game from last year, a game Jackson Center won 47-39 and a game in which the Blackhawks were more competitive … but on this night they struggled to find a way to put the ball in the basket.
Jackson Center started off red-hot with Christopher Elchert, son of Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert, knocking down two triples to help the Tigers jump on top 8-2. Ironically, they would be the only points he would score in the contest.
Mississinawa couldn’t get anything to drop and trailed 13-6 after one quarter.
Ethan Bowman nailed a trey early in the second quarter, making the score 13-9, but that was the closest the Hawks would be the rest of the game.
Mississinawa was shutout over the last seven minutes of the second quarter as Jackson Center took a 24-9 lead at the break.
Mississinawa shot just 3-for-14 and 2-of-4 from the free line and never got on track offensively while Jackson Center was 8-for-17, including 6-of-11 from beyond the arch, in the first half.
“They hit a 3 to start the game right out the gate. I tried telling the guys don’t let them build confidence, and right off the bat they come out strike right away and build confidence,” Mississinawa Valley boys basketball coach Tim Barga said.
“Defensively they were good, and we struggled to score the ball,” Barga added.
Jackson Center expanded its lead to 31-9 in the third quarter.
Trying to match the intensity and quickness of the Tigers, Barga substituted sophomore Josh Fett and he immediately had an impact, scoring in the lane to break an 11-minute scoring drought going back into the second quarter.
The Hawks would still trail 38-16 at the end of the third quarter.
Jackson Center went on to record a 47-21 win, dropping the Blackhawks out of the tournament for the second year in a row.
Sometimes it’s not your night, and sometimes you have to credit the other team, which is what Coach Barga did after the game.
“I’m not sure how many teams give us credit for our defense when we beat them … but I have to hand it to Jackson Center on their defense. I’m not afraid to do that when another team plays great defense. That’s what they did tonight,” Barga said.
Jackson Center’s defense was so good the Tigers held Ethan Bowman, who has averaged over 18 on the year, to just 8 points, which drew praise from Jackson Center coach Scott Elchert on the defensive effort of his kids.
“Bryce Sosby just did one hellacious job on him (Bowman),” Elchert said. “Our kids have bought in to what they have to do to put ourselves in a position to be successful. We don’t feel like we’re the most athletic group on the floor or the quickest guys. They’re about winning so they appreciate the fact that we’re going to put them in a position to win games, and it starts with being fundamental on defense.”
It was a disappointing way to end the season and career for Ethan Bowman, but Coach Barga was thankful for the opportunity to coach him and considers him to be a friend.
“As long as I have coached, I don’t know if it’s going to make any difference how long I stay at Mississinawa or how long I stay in coaching, I’m not sure I’ll find a kid who will give that much of himself for the game of basketball. He was ready to go at all times, always hustling, giving a 100 percent and a great teammate. He led our team in assists, rebounds, steals, blocked shots, scoring – everything. He is just a good all-around kid, and I’m just lucky to be able to call him a friend,” Barga concluded.
Mississinawa Valley closed its season with an 11-11 overall record.
Score by quarters:
JC …. 13 … 11 … 14 … 09 – 47
MV … 06 … 03 … 07 … 05 – 21
Jackson Center – Platfoot 17, Elchert 6, Sosby 11, Winner 7, Reese 2, Reichert 4;
Totals 8-10-3/7 – 47
Mississinawa – Max Dirmeyer 1, Ethan Bowman 8, D.J. Howell 7, Josh Fett 2, Cody Dirksen 3; Totals 3-4-4/6 – 21