TOPEKA — If you are going to chant “daddy’s princess” at an opposing team’s player, you should probably make sure they aren’t actively mauling your school’s team on the court.
That is the lesson that Prairie Heights’ student section had to take from their visit to Topeka on Tuesday.
Westview opened up Class 2A sectional play with a 70-54 win over conference rival Prairie Heights, giving the Warriors a 2-1 advantage in the season series, surviving and advancing as the goal always is in the postseason. And the focus of that ill fated Prairie Height student section chant, Charlie Yoder, finished the night with a remarkable 35 point, 20 rebound, five assist effort.
So, it probably wasn’t that good of a chant after all.
Yoder was absolutely dominant as an individual in a game that was ironically a major team oriented win.
“We know every game in this Sectional, we are going to have to bring it to survive,” Charlie Yoder said. “I just try to do anything I can to help our team win and team success is more important than individual success.”
Prairie Heights looked to have things in order early. The Panthers tasked junior Seth Troyer with chasing Yoder around the court, double teaming him on nearly every touch he got on the ball. In the instance that Yoder broke away, it was 6-foot-9 Elijah Malone who was acting as a roadblock at the rim. So the first quarter immediately forced Westview to up their ball movement with Luke and Lyndon Miller and Drew Litwiller handling a chunk of early scoring. With 2:50 left in the frame, it was Troyer though scoring on the break to give Prairie Heights a 14-12 lead, their first of the game.
That lasted all of two minutes until the shot came that made most in attendance realize that this was going to be Yoder’s night. With 30 seconds left in the opening quarter, Yoder pulled up from the mid-range and hit a shot that had the friendliest of rolls after hitting the front rim and finding its way inside the basket.
And that, even with the game tied at 16 after one, was all the omen you probably needed. Despite the fact that the Panthers played a really good first eight minutes, things were about to take a major change.
“We made a couple of mistakes but we sharpened up. Most of everybody except Charlie, it is the first time they are in that atmosphere where it is do or die,” Westview coach Rob Yoder said. “They’ve been in that atmosphere but not where either you perform or its over. I think our kids maybe wobbled just a little bit there in the first quarter but they dug in and player well after that.”
The second quarter started with a 10-0 run where Yoder scored six of the points and assisted on another two. The one play that Yoder didn’t have his hand on in that run was one of the best. Litwiller took off on the break, driving head on at Mike Perkins and perfectly contorted his body around Perkins, trying to take the charge, to finish on the left side of the rim. Westview finished the first half up eight points with Yoder hitting two free throws with no time on the clock after Panther Brandon Christlieb picked up his third foul of the half trying to stop Yoder in the closing seconds.
Even the third quarter saw Westview chewing clock. While they stayed aggressive in their ball movement, the Warriors were certainly content in killing clock until Prairie Heights made a mistake defensively. They did just that with 3:41 left in the third, parting the lane or a Lyndon Miller drive and score that pushed the Westview lead to 15. The Panthers then started to get heavy handed with their full court pressure, forcing turnovers and missed shots from Westview, but still coming up empty more often than not on their own offensive end. And if a shot was missed in that time, believe Yoder was grabbing the rebound.
You could tell that Westview learned a lot from their first two meetings with Prairie Heights this season.
“The first two times, we played two different defenses on them and we came up with another defense so we threw all three of them at them tonight,” Charlie Yoder said. “I think that was pretty successful.”
But just as it looked like the Panthers were gaining some footing, Westview found any of the poise they were lacking. Their press break was smooth with the ball moving from left to right and back to the let, passing through all five players and, with 36 seconds left in the third, finding Blake Egli in the corner in front of his own bench. And when Egli finds his spot, all he does is hit threes. From that same spot, Egli hit threes with 36 seconds left in the third, with two seconds left in the third and again about 80 seconds into the fourth.
And all of Prairie Heights’ hopes were essentially dashed from Egli and the ball movement of a poised group that took all of the air out of the Panther attack.
“I think we did a really good job moving the ball. I think we are a really good passing team and I think that showed,” Charlie Yoder said.
Yoder put a final stamp on the game down the stretch, literally dribbling circles around the Panther interior defense to create a couple of his own wide open layups at the rim.
Litwiller added 10 points and seven rebounds for Westview and Egli scored nine. Prairie Heights was led by 17 points from Malone and 11 from Perkins. Westview held the Panthers to just one made three pointer on 15 attempts. The Warriors pulled down 31 rebounds to Prairie Heights’ 17 — keep in mind that Yoder, himself, had 20 and outrebounded the Panthers.
Yoder’s big night puts him at 2,142 points for his career, 27th in the history of the state of Indiana. Among those names passed on Tuesday night: former NBA star Shawn Kemp, who played at Concord. It also moves Yoder into the spot of the fifth best scorer in area history.
So at least he is a ‘princess’ that can score, am I right opposing student sections?
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