“It was a game of two halves!”
That was the first comment by Big Walnut boys head basketball coach Eric Myers after his 18th-seeded Golden Eagles had rallied to upset eighth-seeded 55-51 Lakewood in the opening round of the 2015 Division I Central District boys Sectional basketball Tournament Saturday afternoon in Hebron.
Big Walnut (10-13), after hitting 8 of 10 first-quarter field goal attempts, took 20-13 lead into the second quarter. Six-foot-3 junior forward Josh Seabrook nailed two treys in the opening 5:21 to pull the Golden Eagles into a 6-6 tie with the Lancers. Lakewood answered by taking a 13-12 lead on 6-4 senior forward Dayln Loomis’ rebound basket. The Golden Eagles closed the quarter with an 8-0 run ignited by 6-5 senior forward Zac Asher’s rebound basket, 6-2 freshman guard Austin Becker’s three-point basket and Asher’s 3-point play on a rebound basket, as Big Walnut opened up a 20-13 lead.
The Golden Eagles opened the second period with a dominating 14-4 run, sparked by back-to-back threes by Seabrook and senior guard Kyle Gose and a pair of baskets by 6-0 senior guard Joe Muench giving Big Walnut an 20-point, 37-17 advantage with 3:14 remaining in the quarter. Muench counted three unanswered baskets in the run, the first on a baseline jumper followed by two layins, giving the Golden Eagles the 20-point advantage. By the half, thanks to baskets by 6-0 junior guard Zach Chucta and 6-2 freshman guard Austin Becker, the Golden Eagles had built a 38-21 lead.
“Obviously we came out ready to play,” Myers said.”We were taking good shots (by the half, BW was shooting 84.2 percent (16-for-19) from the field, playing solid defense and thanks to Zac, we dominated inside the paint with our physical play.
The second half saw Big Walnut stumble out of the gate, turning the ball over on its first four possessions, leading to a 9-0 Lakewood run that had the Lancers back within 8 of the lead on Loomis’ layin with 5:46 left in the third period. The Golden Eagles rallied, closing the half with a 7-2 run thanks to threes by Gose and Becker that sent Big Walnut in the final eight minutes with a 45-32 lead.
Lakewood would close to with two of the lead at 51-49 as 6-2 senior guard Reece Dupler was foul on a three-point shot and made all three free throws with 1:37 to play. Dupler followed with a driving layup to tie the game at 49-all with 1:09 to remaining. Big Walnut put the game away at the foul line, netting 4 of 6 free throws in the final 0:51.7 seconds to advance to the District Sectional finals play where the Golden Eagles will take on the ninth-seeded Bulldogs at 7 p.m.on Thursday, March 5 at Bloom-Carroll High School. The 16-7 Bulldogs defeated Highland 62-45 Saturday to advance.
“We kept our composure in the fourth quarter, we didn’t panic, and held on for the victory,” Myers said after the game.
Asher led the Golden Eagles with 12 points. he was followed in the scorebook by Muench with 10, Gose, Becker and Seabrook with 9 apiece. Seabrook tallied three threes while Gose and Becker collected two treys apiece. Only four players broke into the Lakewood scoring column, led by 6-3 senior forward Major Henry who posted a game-leading 18 points. Dupler followed with 14, 5-9 sophomore guard Cameron Downs with 12 and Loomis with 7.
Big Walnut was 20-for-45 (44.4 percent) from the field and 8-for-13 (61.5 percent) at the foul line. The Golden Eagles shot 58.3 percent (7-for-12) from 3-point range. Lakewood shot 46.2 percent (18-for-39) from the floor, including 25.0 percent (3-for-12) from behind the arc and 12-for-17 (70.6) at the line. Big Walnut, led by Asher’s 10 rebounds claimed a 32-21 advantage on the glass. Muench and Becker cleared off 4 rebounds apiece. Dupler and Loomis led the Lancers on the boards with 4 recommitted bounds apiece. Henry and 3 rebounds. In turnovers. Big Walnut turned the ball over 14 times in 55 possessions (25.5 percent), losing 18 points. The Lancers also committed 14 turnovers in one less possessions (53) for a 26.4 turnover percentage. The Golden Eagles scored 15 points off Lakewood turnovers.
Editor’s Note: This story was originally written in March 2015.