Two of the top teams in the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference met on the hardwood one final time on Friday, Feb. 3.
The Goshen Warriors entered play 13-3 overall, 6-1 in the SBAAC. Their lone league loss came to the Amelia Barons on Dec. 20, 2016. Amelia entered the game atop the SBAAC American Division with a 7-0 record, 13-3 overall.
Both teams shot the ball very well, but in the end a trio of late three-pointers helped propel Goshen to a 65-58 victory.
The first quarter was a battle. Neither team could get much separation until Goshen pulled ahead 14-11 with seconds left. Amelia’s Zane Massner connected on his only field goal of the game, a corner three pointer as the buzzer sounded to tie the game at 14 heading into the second quarter.
Amelia pulled away in the second quarter, taking a 32-28 lead into the break. Goshen came out firing in the third, opening the quarter on an 8-3 run to take a 36-35 lead. The Warriors defense held Amelia to just five points in the period, propelling Goshen to a 41-37 lead entering the fourth quarter.
The Barons led 50-47 with 3:52 remaining. After a three-point play by Goshen’s Tony Moore tied the game at 50, Amelia re-took the lead with a two-pointer by Ryan Turner. Goshen responded with three consecutive three-pointers, a quick 9-0 run to put the Warriors ahead 59-52. Amelia cut that margin to three points with 49.5 seconds left, but Goshen made six of their next eight free-throw attempts to seal the victory.
Turner led all scorers, tallying 24 points while also collecting 10 rebounds. Tyler Stewart added 14 points, with Mitch Mentzel chipping in 9 for Amelia. Moore led all Goshen scorers with 19 points. Ryan Wake tallied 18 and six assists. Brandon Cox chipped in 13 points.
Amelia head coach Craig Mazzaro said the team would have liked to have Cage Meyer on the court, but Meyer has been unable to play due to an injury.
“I would’ve liked to have a full team, for one,” Mazzaro said. “Cage Meyer had 16 rebounds and 8-10 points against them last time. Their big guy scored a couple points, and I think that made a tremendous difference in that basketball game. Bottom line, they shot the ball better. They hit three straight threes in the fourth quarter, and that was the end. We left them open there a couple times and they earned them. Without some people in there, we needed guys to step up and take control and I’m not sure everyone was there.”
Amelia finished the game with a 42 percent performance from the field (18 of 43). Goshen shot roughly 45 percent from the field (22 of 49).
Goshen head coach Scott Wake said the Warriors knew they would have to match the Barons’ intensity if they wanted a chance to pull even in the SBAAC American race.
“We just tried to battle like they battle,” Wake said. “They’re a team that we knew we’d have to be ready to fight because they were going to fight for it. We just fought a little bit more, hit some big shots when we needed them and got some big shots at the end. It was a pretty good battle, a good high school basketball game.”
Most of Goshen’s 49 shot attempts came inside the arc, as the Warriors made a concentrated attempt to get the ball inside against the Barons.
“Our two big kids have been playing well for us and people have been trying to stay with our perimeter guys,” Wake said. “We’ve been trying to get more inside stuff and let them play. Both of them played well tonight. We’ve also tried to get some kickouts. When we’ve got our top guys in, they’re not leaving the shooters, they’re leaving them one-on-one in the post and both of those kids are playing well.”
The victory for Goshen pulls them even with Amelia at 7-1 in the conference. Both teams have two games remaining. Mazzaro said the Barons, who had won 14 straight games since falling to Anderson on Dec. 6, 2016, knew they would have to face adversity sooner rather than later.
“We’re right where we need to be,” Mazzaro said. “We knew it was going to be tough for us but as long as we take care of what we need to from here on out, we’re where we need to be. We hadn’t lost a basketball game for two months. We had won 14 in a row. Sooner or later the balls and calls are going to go against us.”
The Barons visit Batavia on Friday, Feb. 10 in their second-to-last conference game of the season. The team then hosts non-conference foe Indian Hill on Tuesday, Feb. 14 before facing off against Western Brown in their final home game ever on Friday, Feb. 17. All three contests are scheduled to begin at 7:30.
Goshen visits Norwood on Feb. 10 for a conference tilt at 7:30 p.m. After a non-conference clash with Ross on Feb. 14, the Warriors host New Richmond to end the season.