By Josh Brown
CLAYTON — The Miami East boys basketball team’s season didn’t go the way the Vikings expected throughout the year.
It didn’t end the way they expected, either.
After taking control of a back-and-forth battle against No. 19 Greenon in the third quarter, No. 18 Miami East only managed to hit one shot in the fourth quarter, and the Knights (11-12) were able to clean up all of the misses and put away a hard-fought 47-39 victory over the Vikings to open the Division III sectional tournament Saturday at Northmont High School.
Greenon advances to face No. 2 Bethel on Wednesday. But for Miami East, which saw its season end at 9-14, the offensive struggles were a common theme all year long.
“We got a big boost by hitting four 3s in the third, three by Dylan Hahn, but unfortunately our lack of offense resurfaced in the fourth quarter,” Miami East coach Allen Mack said. “We only sank one basket in the fourth got outscored 14-3, made a lot of mistakes and weren’t able to finish some shots. We just didn’t execute in the fourth and couldn’t buy a basket or a rebound.”
Early on, the game was a long-range battle, with the two teams combining for seven in the first quarter alone. Greenon hit four of them and East hit three as the Knights held a slim 14-12 lead after one. But Greenon got its inside game going in the second quarter, with the post duo of Logan Coppock and Luke Downing combining 12 of the Knights’ 14 second-quarter points to put their team on top 28-20 at halftime.
Coppock finished with a game-high 15 points and 11 rebounds and Downing added 12 points and seven rebounds, with the duo combining for 18 of Greenon’s 33 rebounds to help it win the battle of the boards 33-21.
“Eighteen rebounds along with their 27 points — those two were warriors inside,” Mack said. “In a physical game, they just took over, and unfortunately we couldn’t grab the key rebounds or get the inside scoring that we had some opportunities t get.”
So the Vikings stepped behind the line again in the third, with Hahn hitting three of his four 3s on the night in that quarter alone to help East get back into the game. And with 1:46 to go in the quarter, Greenon was called for a technical foul for arguing out-of-bounds calls with the score tied 32-32, and Will Hudson sank a free throw and then hit a 3 on the ensuing possession to help the Vikings claim a 36-33 lead heading into the fourth.
“Dylan really sparked us in the second and third quarters,” Mack said of Hahn. “It’s nice to see a senior leader step up like that. He started the last 12 or 13 games for us and really came through with four big 3s.
“I thought we really had them on the rocks about the time they had the technical. That was a four-point swing on that technical, and I thought that would be enough to push us over. But we barely scored after that, and unfortunately that’s been a major problem for us throughout the season.”
After Greenon’s Cade Rile hit a 3 to tie the score early in the fourth, Dalton Taynor knocked down a 3 to give the lead back to the Vikings at 39-36 with 3:55 to go. But that would be the only bucket the Vikings hit in the fourth, and Cooper Chaffin tied the score with a 3 and Coppock grabbed an offensive rebound and hit a pair of free throws to put the Knights on top for good with 3:23 to play. From there, Greenon cleaned up every miss on either end — including a putback by Downing on a missed front end of a one-and-one with under a minute to go to seal it.
After Coppock and Downing, Chaffin hit three 3s and scored nine points for Greenon, Rile had six points and five rebounds and Trevor Anderson scored five points.
Hahn led the Vikings with 14 points, but no other East players reached double digits on the night. Austin Rutledge and Brendon Bertsch each scored seven points, Hudson added six and Taynor scored five as the Vikings hit 10 3s on the night but could only connect on three baskets inside the arc and went 3 for 8 from the free throw line compared to Greenon’s 7 for 10.
It was the last game in the careers of the Vikings’ five seniors, Rutledge, Taylor, Hahn, Austin Kearns and Jack Runner.
“I think obviously their senior year didn’t go the way they wanted in terms of wins and losses,” Mack said. “But the kids worked hard all year and really competed, especially being down by eight at the half tonight to battle back and really put ourselves in a position to win this game. I’m proud of their effort and hustle, especially in the second half.
“I’d also like to thank my assistant coaches, coach (Dan) Hickman, coach (Kevin) Evans and coach (Matt) Rutledge, who really helped to prepare our guys this week. We were very well prepared for their 1-3-1 tonight, and that helped us get a lot of good looks tonight with 10 3s, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. And obviously, with our underclassmen coming back, we’ve got a lot of potential there, and hopefully they’ll work real hard this summer to come back and get us back on the winning track.”
SPRINGFIELD — Tippecanoe saw its season come to an end in the opening round of the Division II sectional tournament Saturday night in Springfield as the third-seeded Red Devils lost to No. 5 Carroll, 61-46.
Carroll (14-9) advances to take on No. 8 Graham, a 56-54 overtime winner over No. 2 Kenton Ridge Saturday, on Wednesday night. Tippecanoe finishes the season at 12-11.
Contact Josh Brown at (937) 552-2132, or follow @TroyDailySports on Twitter.
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