Ohio laughed last in Sunday, April 28’s Nancy Rehm Border Wars as the state won the boys game 94-88 after never trailing past the first quarter of play. Ohio won the rebound battle 57-37 and knocked down 12 three pointers in the victory.
“I just have so much respect for Tom Rehm and what he has done with this game,” Indiana coach Marc Davidson of Blackhawk Christian said. “It is a great opportunity for a lot of kids to get some exposure and play one last time. I’m thankful for Tom and there is a lot of pride at stake for the kids and it means something to them.”
Indiana scored the first five points of the game, all on the hands of Wayne’s Cameron Starks, who spun in for his first basket before taking his defender off the dribble and knocking down a three pointer a trip later. Starks also had three of the first five Indiana rebounds of the game.
While Ohio fought their way into the lead with a big early advantage on the glass, Central Noble’s Ridley Zolman entered the game and scored the next five Indiana points to give the home team a 10-8 lead.
Ohio jumped out quick in the second quarter after a tie game after one. Ohio took their time after continuing to be a problem on the glass and made the extra pass on offense to score the first 10 points of the quarter. The run prompted an Indiana timeout and regrouping. That regrouping consisted of Homestead’s Zac Bradtmiller scoring four straight points, first off an assist from Blackhawk Christian’s Frankie Davidson and then on a play of his own, scoring on the reverse layup.
But Ohio stayed the course and stayed hot shooting the ball from the outside, leading 47-31 with 4:21 to play in the first half on a Levi Seiler three pointer, the team’s eighth triple of the game.
Hayden Smithey’s isolation three pointer just before the half decreased the Ohio lead to just 11 points at 55-44. The game seemed much more out of hand at times during the first half with Ohio leading the rebounding battle 29-21 at the halftime break behind seven first half rebounds from Ohio’s Levi Seiler.
“I thought the biggest difference was the rebounding; they really hurt us on the boards all day,” Marc Davidson said. “That is something we addressed at halftime but I don’t know that it got much better in the second half.”
Indiana scored the first seven points of the second half on a nice move from Davidson, a three pointer from Bradtmiller and then solid defense from Starks at the 8:10 mark leading to a fast break pass from Bradtmiller for the Davidson dunk and suddenly the score was 55-51 in Ohio’s favor. Ohio started to double team Davidson, to little avail as he was able to find open teammates like Wayne’s Shawn Ferrell for baskets. Davidson scored nine points in the first five minutes of the quarter, getting Indiana as close as three points before hockey line style subs changed both teams’ look.
With 2:26 to play, Ohio’s Javin Etzler pulled up for a three pointer while smothered by Smithey that extended the Ohio lead back to double digits at 72-62.
Johnathan Irwin, the day’s boys three point contest winner, scored his first basket with 7:42 left in the game on a three pointer right in front of the Indiana bench. It cut the Ohio lead to just one point for the first time since early in the second quarter. Indiana then had back to back unforced turnovers on errant passes that sailed out of bounds to the sidelines. Those unforced errors and others, combined with Ohio’s rebounding strength pushed the lead back to seven points with 4:17 to play in the game.
Ohio’s Jacob Plantz played difference maker in the fourth quarter, finding a comfort zone spotting up in front of his team’s bench for strong shots, but also mixing it up at the basket for multiple long offensive tips or rebounds that helped Ohio keep control of the game.
“They continued to manhandle us at times in the paint and I thought that was the biggest difference was their activity on the offensive boards,” Marc Davidson said.
A Smithey three pointer just inside the closing minute got Indiana back within three points, but with time not on their side, the host team was forced to continue to send Ohio to the foul line where they were able to close out the game.
Plantz was named the game’s MVP after scoring a game high 20 points and adding eight rebounds. Ohio was aided by Caden Niekamp’s 14 points, Seiler’s 13 points and 12 rebounds and 12 points from Etzler.
Smithey led Indiana with 19 points including five three pointers of his own. Davidson added 16 points and Zolman had 11 points and a team high six rebounds.
Ohio now trails the all-time series 16-11.
OF NOTE: Bluffton’s Johnathan Irwin won the boys three point shooting contest during halftime of the girls game. He hit 21-of-25 attempts. During halftime of the boys game, Central Noble’s Sydney Freeman won the girls three point contest. Between the two games, Wayne’s Shawn Ferrell bested Ohio’s Javin Etzler in the slam dunk contest.