UNION CITY – The Mississinawa Valley Blackhawks gave their fans quite a wild ride in subduing the Troy Christian Eagles 63-59 in a non-conference contest Saturday evening.
The red and black faithful experienced the thrill of a 27-point lead and then suffered through a possible game-tying or go-ahead possession by the Eagles as the clock nearly expired.
The Blackhawks opened the game with a nice reverse lay-in by 6-foot 4-inch senior Dalton Geesy. The Eagles were looking to push the ball up the floor quickly and play at a quicker tempo, but Mississinawa Valley’s match-up zone prevented them from gaining a rhythm and made the Troy Christian offense look uncomfortable. The Blackhawks added two triples from Devan Rinderle and Ethan Bowman to create an 18-9 lead after one period.
The second quarter opened in a similar fashion when Mississinawa faced its first adversity of the night. Geesy picked up his second personal foul with 6:18 remaining in the half and quickly added his third. He was forced to the bench. Immediately, the Eagles went inside to 6-foot 5-inch sophomore Jason Anderson, who delivered the next five points. After a MV timeout, Anderson was quieted and the Blackhawks closed the half on a 6-0 run to take a 31-17 halftime lead.
The third period had two very distinct parts. The first 2:30 was controlled by Mississinawa. Troy Christian, seeing its perfect start of a season, 3-0, in jeopardy played the full court-press card. The Blackhawks navigated through the press with great success and went on a 13-0 run to build a 44-17 lead.
Old man momentum switched sides all at once. There was a sudden all out change. The Eagles went on a 10-0 run to cut the MV lead to 44-27. Three balls were raining at the Troy Christian basket. The Eagles would connect on six in the final five minutes. The Eagles’ Peyton Spurlock, Case Hayden and Jacob Brown all had eight points in the quarter. At the quarter’s end the Troy Christian run reached 29-8 and the score now had Mississinawa leading 52-46.
“Don’t like to go away from it, if we can help it,” Blackhawks coach Tim Barga said about his team’s zone defense. “Man, when they start shooting threes like they did in the second half there’s not much you can do about it. My assistant coach kept telling me to go to man to man, but our zone is what got us ahead so far. I didn’t want to switch. We stuck with it.
“What got us the lead was every time we ran down the floor we ran a play. If we get a layup fine, take a fast break, but when you don’t have it you set up our plays. We weren’t doing that. Took a couple of long threes, no idea why we did that. Took a couple of timeouts, ran a couple of plays and got some easy baskets.”
The Eagles would not stop the comeback effort. They scored the first eight fourth quarter points to take their only lead of the game at 54-52. Geesy scored a field goal for MV to tie the score at 54 with 4:03 remaining. Bowman netted a fast break bucket, followed by two Devan Rinderle free throws to push the MV lead to 58-54. Case Hayden hit a field goal for the Eagles and Bowman added two more Blackhawk free throws to make the score 60-56 with 2:02 left.
Two empty trips, a turnover and a foul gave Troy Christian the ball back and Jacob Brown cut the lead to one with a 3-pointer, 60-59, with 54.9 seconds remaining. Geesy was fouled right away and made one of the two foul shots to advance the Blackhawk lead to 61-59.
Troy Christian called a timeout with 22.2 seconds left to plan its strategy. The Eagles came out and ran the same offense that had worked in the second half. They looked to penetrate the zone and then pass to the open man for the possible game winning 3-pointer, but when it came time for the pass it went just past the outstretched hand of its intended receiver. Andrew Johns was then fouled and knocked down both free throws to seal the victory.
Troy Christian placed three men in double figures, Jacob Brown 14, Case Hayden 12 and James Anderson 11. The Eagles, five time defending champion of the Metro-Buckeye Conference, fall to 3-1.
Mississinawa Valley placed three men in double figures led by game high scorer Ethan Bowman’s 21, Devan Rinderle 14 and Dalton Geesy 13. The Blackhawks improve to 2-3, 1-1 in the Cross County Conference.
Troy Christian won the junior varsity contest 41-23.
Troy Christian- 59
Hartman 4, Spurlock 8, Hayden 12, Wayne 8, Brown 14, Anderson 11, Dillahunt 2.
Mississinawa Valley- 63
Bowman 21, Perkins 2, Nelson 7, Rinderle 14, Johns 4, Howard 2, Geesy 13.
3-pointers: TC 9 (Spurlock 2, Hayden 2, Wayne 2, Brown 2, Hartman); MV 3 (Bowman 2, Rinderle).
TC 9 8 29 13 59
MV 18 13 21 11 63