VANDALIA – Arcanum’s winter campaign came to an end on Tuesday night as National Trail had a strong second half surge that bottled up the Trojans and exploded on offense to put distance between the two teams. Arcanum pulled all the stops out in the last quarter, but despite its best efforts, the Trojans could not close the gap and fell 56-38 in the Division III sectional semifinal round at Butler High School.
The win avenged a 47-41 loss Trail suffered earlier in the season to Arcanum.
The Trojans had the upper hand at first. They opened with a zone defense and at first Trail was cold shooting as they could not get their perimeter shots to fall in the Butler gym. Meanwhile, Arcanum was able to get its points by driving to the hoop through the Blazers’ man-to-man defense.
But late in the quarter Trail began to find its range and squeezed close the lanes that Arcanum had been using to drive to the basket. They closed the gap and finished the quarter with a little run and captured a 16-11 lead. This forced coach Jim Melton to adjust and go to a man-to-man defense in the next quarter.
Arcanum was putting pressure on Trail shooter Cameron Harrison and held him to just 5 points in the first half. But Trail’s Travis Hunt uncharacteristically got a hot hand in the second quarter and sunk four treys. Carter Gray and Wade Meeks made back-to-back baskets late in the half to pull Arcanum within six points just before halftime. The Trojans were trying to finish strong and carry some momentum into the locker room. However, this would be as close as the Trojans would get in the remainder of the game. Harrison was fouled with less than a tick left on the clock. He sunk both of his free throws to make it 30-22 at the half.
Trail went on a 12-2 run to start the third quarter. Arcanum simply could not buy a basket. Trail was rebounding well and Arcanum was not getting many second chance shots. Gray finally sunk a trey at the 2-minute mark, but the Trojans only managed to put up 5 points in the quarter. Trail had broken the game open as it was 44-27.
Arcanum pressed, set up 3-point shots and tried everything it could to build momentum. But the Trojans could not make a dent in the Trail lead. They called off the dogs and cleared the bench in the last minute to get the young players on the court. Still, it was successful season for Arcanum, which ended up in fourth place in the Cross County Conference.
“Great group of young men,” Melton said of his seniors. “I am proud of each and every one of them. They give a tremendous amount of effort. They provided the team with leadership. I talked to them about leaving a legacy and laying a foundation for the new way that Arcanum basketball is moving. They will be remembered for setting the direction that this team is going.
“Win or lose in this game, they have nothing to hang their head about,” he continued. “In the beginning of the season, I think a lot of people were writing us off. Our kids really fought to get to where we are at. The JV deserve a shout out as well as they really helped us progress. They set up as the scout team and really worked us. It is a collective group effort – from the managers, the trainers, the staff, and of course the players.”