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Knights clinch share of TRC title, down Maconaquah

BY Trent Scott - tscott@perutribune.com

It was billed as the TRC boys’ basketball title game.

By the end of the evening, it looked less a titanic clash and more a routine night for No. 5 Southwood as the Knights took down Maconaquah in straight-forward fashion, 68-41.

Southwood head coach John Burrus said the team did what they do best on offense, but the coach was especially happy with the defense his players showed.

“We felt good about our defense,” Burrus said. “That showed when we held Maconaquah to 41 points. We know we’re going to put points on the board because we’re hard to stop. The kids shared the ball so well.”

The game got off to a slow start as both teams tried to impose their defense on the other, leading to a solitary basket being scored in the first three minutes.

Carson Blair finally got the game going with a deep three, followed by a second to give the hosts a 12-6 lead.

Ethan Larason answered with a trey for the visitors but a reply from Ethen Roberts and baskets from Dallas Holmes and Blair gave Southwood a 19-9 lead.

Rebounding was a big part of the hosts’ early advantage, limiting the Braves to multiple one-and-done possessions, a key component of the win as Burrus said the visitors struggled to get shots to fall early.

“Maconaquah has size but they’re more of a perimeter team,” Burrus said. “They’re a little bit like us though Dallas will get in deeper. They had some shots that didn’t go in and that built towards the second half.”

Larason scored the last basket of the first period and Chandler Pitts opened the scoring in the second quarter to trim the gap to 19-13, only for Blair to connect with another three to stretch the lead back out to nine.

The lead stood at 29-19 when Pitts picked up his third foul and the Knights took advantage with an 8-2 burst in the final two minutes to take a 35-21 lead into halftime.

Burrus said the team went on the attack with Pitts forced to the sidelines.

“We went into quick mode,” Burrus noted. “We didn’t want the half to end because we wanted to get the most out of it we could with Pitts on the bench.

“We seized the moment and changed the game by creating space. If it was only a six or seven point lead at the break and they hit some shots, it’s tied again, but we never lost that cushion.”

Matt Nose opened the second half with a drive before eight-straight points from Blair, Peyton Trexler and Holmes pushed the lead to 20 at 45-25.

Maconaquah was stuck trying to get past the Southwood press and having little success, turning the ball over seemingly anytime they looked to be building momentum.

The Knights were always ready to take advantage, maintaining a 20-point cushion going into the fourth quarter where the lead was stretched out to 25 following a Nose three and, at its peak, 27 following a Trexler layup and following the final basket of the game by Luke Winer.

With the win, Southwood takes at least share of the TRC title and with a win over Northfield would win the conference outright.

Burrus said seeing the players accomplish the four-peat was special.

“It’s incredible,” Burrus said. “There’s going to be a ‘15, ‘16, ‘17 and ‘18 on the board and that’s only happened once before.

“For these kids to put together four-straight years of TRC championships, what more can you ask of them and this basketball program? You only get once chance to do something like that and they’ve contributed each year to the titles.

“It’s been an incredible run.”

Southwood returns to action on the road at Adams Central next Tuesday with Burrus wanting the team to keep the wins coming.

“We want to finish strong and not leave any wins out there,” Burrus said. “When you get to sectionals, you want to be on a streak because we’ve rarely seen a team blow a late game and do well in the sectionals.

“We don’t want to rebound. We want to be playing our best basketball going into the sectional.”

At Southwood

Maconaquah 11 10 10 10 — 41

Southwood 19 16 16 17 — 68

Scoring

Maconaquah — Larason 17, Pitts 12, Middlekauff 8, Hagan 2, Ward 2, Koebler 0, Myers 0, Bourne 0, Borden 0

Southwood — Blair 19, Holmes 17, Trexler 16, nose 9, Roberts 5, Winer 2, Lloyd 0, Perry 0, Simons 0, Barney 0

Next Game: Southwood (15-3, 8-0 TRC) travels to Adams Central (8-9) Tuesday at 6 p.m.