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Eagles cruise past Crusaders
Oran upset Saxony Lutheran in the Class 1 District 2 semifinals.
In the postseason, games often are officiated loosely, and that was the case for the majority of Tuesday's Class 1 District 2 semifinal game between Saxony Lutheran and Oran.
The third-seeded Eagles won the physical battle Tuesday, upsetting No. 2 Saxony Lutheran 71-52.
Oran (12-13) will play No. 1 Bell City at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday. The Cubs routed No. 5 Delta 76-38 in the other semifinal.
"Postseason play is often a lot more physical than regular-season play, and I thought Oran made the adjustment better than we did," Saxony Lutheran coach John Daniel said.
The Eagles played a relentless game on defense, hounding the Crusaders across the court. Saxony Lutheran (21-6) managed just 17 first-half points, and besides a 20-point third quarter the Crusaders were kept in check much of the game.
"We've played 99 games in our four years here and we've gone 75-24, and I felt their defensive intensity tonight was the best we've seen," Daniel said.
Oran had dropped an earlier meeting to Saxony Lutheran by double figures but never trailed in Tuesday's semifinal. Six-foot-3 junior Chase Seyer got the Eagles off to a strong start by scoring 10 points in the first quarter, and had 12 points at the half.
"We want to get Seyer touches early and establish a post game," Oran coach Jason Andrews said.
Saxony Lutheran stayed close early despite Oran's defensive effort, and less than 2 minutes into the third had knotted the score at 23-23. Steven Mock scored a pair of 3-pointers to put Oran back on top 29-25. The Crusaders tied the score three more times, with senior Tim Lorenz scoring Saxony's eight points in the stretch, before Mock gave the Eagles the lead for good with another 3-pointer midway through the third.
Mock finished with 21 points, all on 3-pointers. He hit five in the second half.
"He's a microwave," Andrews said. "When he gets heated up, it's lights out."
Added Daniel: "We tied it early in the third, then they hit two 3-pointers in a row. Mock was just unconscious tonight. He's a great shooter."
Seyer gave the Eagles a 10-point lead 15 seconds into the fourth, and Mock's 3-pointer with 4 minutes remaining pushed the lead to 58-41. The final straw for the Crusaders came when Seyer somehow hit a high-lofting shot as he was fouled. He hit the free throw to complete the three-point play and put Oran up 61-41 with 3:29 remaining.
"This is the first game all season we faced a tough opponent where we put four quarters together," Andrews said. "I was really pleased with our team effort. Our game plan all year was to stick people on defense and rebound, and we did that tonight."
Seyer scored a game-high 25 points for the Eagles.
Lorenz led the Crusaders with 21 points and fellow senior Casey Petzoldt had 15. Saxony Lutheran will graduate four seniors from this team, players who have been with the program since its inception.
"These four seniors have essentially been our seniors all four years in a row," Daniel said. "I don't think I'll ever be closer to a group of kids than I was these four. They've meant so much to Saxony Lutheran that goes beyond basketball."
Cubs win easily
In the other semifinal, the game was decided by midway through the second quarter. The Cubs (24-4), winners of four straight district titles, were up 30-7 with 4:16 left in the half already had a 30-point lead late in the second quarter.
Will Bogan, Bell City's 6-foot-10 junior, led the Cubs with 23 points. Many of Bogan's points came off second-chances as Bell City dominated the boards.
"Our rebounding was a big edge," Bell City coach Brian Brandtner said. "The thing that scared me was we just played them a week ago and beat them. You're always scared of a letdown, but I thought we came out and did the little things."
Bell City's lead got as large as 66-17 midway through the third quarter. The Cubs played their reserves most of the late-going.
"When you get a lead in a game [like this] you put guys in who aren't used to playing with the other guys, but I thought we kept our focus fairly well," Brandtner said.
Nick Niemczyk added 19 points for the Cubs, all coming in the first half. Kerry Wayne Lasters had six points as he is slowly coming back from an injury.
"It's great having Kerry Wayne back, he means a lot to this team," Brandtner said. "You can tell he's not 100 percent. I would guess he's 75 or 80 percent, but even at 75 or 80 percent he brings a lot off the bench."
Terrence Below led the Bobcats (8-18) with 17 points.
Bell City had three wins against Oran this season, including opening round games at the Oran Invitational and the Southeast Missourian Christmas Tournament.
"All we're going to do is go out there and compete and battle," Andrews said.
Saxony Lutheran 71, Oran 52
ORAN (71) -- Chase Seyer 25, Steven Mock 21, Robert Lange 8, Kody Campbell 8, Hunter Glastetter 5, Jordon Mason 2, Nick Anderson 2. FG 26, FT 11-15, F 22 (3-pointers: Mock 7, Campbell 1. Fouled out: none)
SAXONY LUTHERAN (52) -- Tim Lorenz 21, Casey Petzoldt 15, Alex Jauch 7, Trey Maevers 5, Ben Courtois 4. FG 21, FT 10-20, F 14 (3-pointers: Lorenz 1, Courtois 1. Fouled out: none)
Bell City 76, Delta 38
DELTA (38) -- Terrence Below 17, Aaron Kinder 8, Dustin Anglin 6, Aaron Criddle 3, Alex Parks 2, Nathan Stroder 2. FG 15, FT 7-11, F 12 (3-pointers: Criddle 1. Fouled out: none)
BELL CITY (76) -- Jeff Liggins 6, Phillip Gross 9, Melvin Johnson 5, Kerry Wayne Lasters 6, Blaine Stewart 6, Will Bogan 23, Nick Niemczyk 19. FG 31, FT 10-14, F 15 (3-pointers: Niemczyk 2, Gross 1, Johnson 1. Fouled out: none)