TROY — Another appearance in the Division IV sectional finals is upcoming for Cedarville.
Never trailing in the game on Wednesday, the Indians defeated Yellow Springs 64-50 and earned its 20th win of the season.
A dunk by Hayden Hanson off the opening tip set the tone as Cedarville came out focused on both ends of the floor in jumping out to a 14-2 lead.
“The start was big for us,” Indians head coach Ryan Godlove said. “I love the energy that we came out with and it was really important. The way that they play, they are aggressive and you need to take advantage of mistakes. If you play timid they feed off of that so I was really pleased with our guys coming out aggressive.”
Drew Koning and Tyler Cross knocked down a trio of three-pointers which helped force Yellow Springs out of a zone early. DeAndre Cowen did what he could to keep the Bulldogs close, but a hard-nosed defensive effort did not allow his teammates many opportunities to get on the scoreboard.
“Cedarville played a really good game. Shot the ball efficiently,” Yellow Springs head coach Nick Trimbach said. “Ryan does a great job with the program. Did I expect them to shoot 85 percent from the field in the first half? No. But I’m just proud of especially the seniors and Eli [Eyrich] for how hard they played.”
Cedarville, the No. 3-seed in the Troy sectional, lead 37-20 at halftime and a more back and forth second half saw the margin stay between 14 and 19 points throughout.
Koning led the way with 19 points in the game, while Cross had 15 and Hanson added 14.
“We play really good team ball and I feel like we have multiple guys that can step up,” Godlove said. “Everyone’s points and minutes were important but those three are a big part of our team.”
Cowen, winner of MBC and District 15 player of the year, had six field goals and 17 points in his final game as a senior. Cameron Harris made three shots from beyond the arc and Javas McNair had nine points as well.
In all, Yellow Springs had 44 of its points come from its senior class. The group was part of a 16-win team which were the co-MBC champions in the regular season and earning the sectional’s No. 4-seed.
The Bulldogs went through an 0-20 season just three years ago, and Trimbach said the game showed how one group can build a program’s culture while fighting through its own adversity.
“We talked about how proud of them I am,” he said of a postgame locker room speech. “But more importantly about that a lot of times in life we get caught in the destination and we forget that the ride is the fun part. I made sure that the last sentiment that they left with is I loved every second of it and I hope that they did too because even when we lost we still had a ball.”
Cedarville has now won seven straight games, many have primarily come on the heels of its defense. After only averaging 48 points in its final five games of the regular season, the Indians have reached the 60s in its two tournament games.
It next will attempt to reach the district finals for the third straight seasons, but will need to get through a rubber match with Catholic Central first on Saturday.
The Irish handled Tri-County North in the second game of evening and are the No. 2-seed and ranked in the state’s top-10. The two teams respectively finished first and second in the OHC and split its two regular season meetings.
”We know them well and they know us well,” Godlove said. “They’ve got a great team. It’s the sectional finals and good for our conference.”