NEW KNOXVILLE — For eight minutes, Spencerville could do no wrong and New Knoxville lost its cool.
Spencerville beat the Rangers 67-61 on Saturday night, lifted by a 32-point second quarter outburst.
Spencerville at New Knoxville Boys Basketball Photos
After the two teams played to a 15-15 draw in the first quarter, Spencerville exploded in the second quarter. The Bearcats scored the first eight points of the quarter, shot 12-of-17 from the floor and went 4-of-6 from 3-point range.
"It was one of those things where we got into a groove, we got some good shots and we started knocking down all the shots we took once we got comfortable," Spencerville head coach Kevin Sensabaugh said.
After New Knoxville center Ben Kuck walked off the floor woozy after a rebounding scrum under the basket, the Rangers’ Andrew Arnett drew a technical foul several possessions later.
"We lost our composure," Fledderjohann said. "We got down 12 points and made a nice 7-0 run to cut it to five and we were right back in it. Spencerville then stepped up its intensity, there was a lot of holding and grabbing — it was a physical game. We lost our composure."
Spencerville's lead would balloon to as large as 19 points in the second half before the Rangers' rallied to get to within four points late.
"We ended up losing the game by six points and it was all the second quarter," Fledderjohann said. "If we hold it together and play them even up in the second quarter, we're not down 15 points at the half."
That climb proved too steep.
"Thank goodness for that second quarter because we needed it," Sensabaugh said.
A pre-New Year's win over the Rangers is becoming as traditional way to end the calender year. Spencerville beat New Knoxville for the fourth straight time over three seasons. dating back to 2010.
After losing its first three games of the season to St. Henry, Minster and Elida, the Bearcats have ripped off four straight wins over Fort Jennings, Ada, Ottoville and now New Knoxville.
Spencerville freshman Zach Goecke scored 20 points on 6-of-7 shooting added five rebounds. Ben Bowers scored 17 points while Devon Cook and Derek Goecke each added nine points.
"We don't put many guys on the floor that you don't have to guard," Sensabaugh said.
New Knoxville sophomore guard Shane Topp had quite a night. After scoring 15 points in the junior varsity game, Topp was pressed into increased minutes in the varsity game after Kuck's departure and Arnett's foul trouble. Topp scored a game-high 20 points, draining four 3-pointers and going 4-for-4 at the free throw line.
"When a guy gets injured, the next guy in line has to step up," Fledderjohann said. "He came in and can shoot. He got his first couple to go and then he was looking to shoot."
Topp helped spearhead New Knoxville's second-half comeback. The Rangers trailed 47-32 at the half and the advantage reached 19 points late in the third quarter before the Rangers slowly but surely chipped into the lead.
Topp and Ryan Lageman hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the lead down to 54-41 late in the third quarter.
Jake Allen melted the lead more by getting to the free throw line six times in four trips down the floor.
Allen added 14 points for New Knoxville on 8-of-10 shooting from the floor, but the Ranger senior was frustrated by the Bearcats to the tune of 3-of-14 shooting from the floor.
"Defensively, I thought we were as good as we've been this year, especially in the first half," Sensabaugh said. "We communicated unbelievably well. We had prepared for that dribble weave and the first couple possessions, it kind of shocked us. After that, we settled in and got used to it and our perimeter guys defended well."
Allen hit three of four free throws to get the lead under 10 points at 50-41 with 3:34 left in the game.
Topp's five-point play with 2:08 left made it a ballgame. Topp drained a trey from the left wing and was fouled on the way down. He knocked down the two ensuing free throws to get New Knoxville to within 62-57.
New Knoxville hit nine 3-pointers.
"They're hard to match-up with because they've got a bunch of guys who can spread the floor and shoot it," Sensabaugh said. "It was definitely a tough match-up."
An Allen jumper then made it 63-59, but the Rangers missed three of their four final shots and Spencerville knocked down four of six free throws to seal the win.
New Knoxville won the junior varsity contest, 50-37, led by Topp's 15 points.
Derek Goeke led Spencerville with seven rebounds.